by K.Mennem for Hell on Earth Blog
May 16th, 2013
Biker gangs have long been a part of the drug flow across North America, sometimes riding with a bull’s-eye on their backs, other times seeming to fall off the radar. The loud sound of Harley-Davidson exhaust pipes and the signature vests worn by bike clubs are known to almost all in North America, the way they helped the meth trade flourish to what it is today, may not be.
Not all biker gangs are equal, and those that ride with them definitely are not. Most that ride these American made motorcycles are law abiding citizens. That fact is the reason some are identified as one-percenters. While being a member of an outlaw biker motorcycle club doesn't mean you’re a criminal, those that wear the 1% patch often are.
The 1% patch is given to those that are down for anything. The American Motorcycle Association allegedly stated in 1947 that 99% of bikers are law abiding citizens. Apparently at the time they thought 1% were not.
While a motor cycle club, like the Mongols, may have 50 members in a chapter, sometimes less than half will wear the 1%. The bikers that do not wear the patch may be lawyers and doctors, while those that do could very well be drug dealers and hitmen.
The FBI has labeled four motorcycle clubs as “Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs”. Those being the Hells Angels, the Outlaws, the Pagans, and the Bandidos. These are typically known as the “big four”. Two other biker gangs often listed as criminal groups are the Mongols and the Vagos. The gangs earned that label from showing ruthless violence in biker wars and selling large amounts of methamphetamine across the U.S.
The Hells Angels are the largest and most notorious biker gang in the U.S., North America, and across the globe. The U.S. Department of Justice has labeled them as an organized crime syndicate. The group was founded in 1948 and is believed to have well over 2,000 members worldwide. The gang is made up of typically white males.
The Hells Angels have chapters in 42 countries according to their official website, but no official chapter in Mexico, Central America, or Colombia. The club does have chapters in Brazil and Argentina.
The Mongols Motorcycle Club, which is based out of Southern California, is much smaller than the Hells Angels, yet has strong connections to drug networks. The group was founded in 1969 and has well over 500 members. The membership makeup is multi-racial, consisting of a large numbers of Hispanics, Native-Americans, and whites. According to the clubs official website, the club has an official chapter in Baja California, Mexico.
The Mongols have taken on a different image than other traditional bike clubs, mainly because of their multi-racial makeup. Some of the traditionally Mexican-American leaders in border states found it easy to link up with Mexico's criminal organizations to help streamline their drug networks.
An interesting anonymous comment I ran across on a blog from 2004. Explains the relationship between the Mongols and the Mexican Mafia (La Eme) to an extent. Gives some history as well.
"I'm an old veterano from east L.A. friends with true carnales of LA EME and THE MONGOL BROTHERS like many other veteranos and SURENOS here in Los Angeles. I'm glad to hear that the green light was called off. I'd like to school you on a quick tip.
The Mongols motorcycle club was not formed in prison, they were formed on the streets of Montebello consisting of a bunch of low riders and cholos that had grown out of that scene and graduated to motorcycles and hotrods. Eventually finding themeselves with the same interests they got together and formed the motorcycle club. At first they tried joining the white motorcycle clubs that were already in existence but were not accepted by them so they started their own. Actually their first war was with a low rider club called Orpheus and they were jealous that the Mongols had moved up continentally on the streets. But history shows that Orpheus no longer exists.
Most motorcycle club names are themed around hell and Satan. The Mongols wanted something different so they came up with the fiercest warriors that ruled Russia and China and most of the world for over 500 years. They even considered Aztecs or Mayans but they felt it was little bit too ethnic. I personally feel the name they chose was perfect. Their next battle was with the Hells Angels with whom they wanted to be friends with but were not accepted and the Mongols were being told what they could wear and how they should exist. Maybe the Mongols did insult them by sewing on the California bottom rocker but the Mongols had thier reasons.
As far back as I could remember LA EME was always tight allies with the Mongols. They have done favors for each other many of times. You can ask anyone who has been in a Calfornia prison. The Mongols have brothers from up north and down south. They have white brothers too. This was never a problem with the Surenos before. Hell the Mongols are the only guys in the joint that I know that can walk the yard without having to ask permission that's how much love they have from LA EME.
Also, for your information, the second in command to Joe Morgan, which was Robot, is brothers with the ex-president of the San Gabriel Chapter Monogls. So this so called problem is a little confusing to some Surenos and even to some older Mongols. But as with the Pepsi generation things have changed with LA EME and now similar types of changes are happening with the Mongols. So if the youngsters would talk to the elders on both sides I'm sure all this oculd be straighten out.
Know the facts, the Mongols never had a reputation for taxing people. They've been known to just be a tight brotherhood that live the Chicano biker lifestyle and have one common enemy with all outlaw organiztions, the local authorities and the federal government. For all we know the federal government is creating chaos amongst us through the media to limit our constitutional rights."
The Bandidos, another outlaw motorcycle club, claim to have over 2,000 members in 210 countries. While the name may seem to represent a Mexican club, it is predominately white. Numerous Hispanic members do exist however, and the group is based out of Texas. The group has large numbers in the western part of Texas, but was formed in Southeast Texas. No official Mexico chapters are known of, but a chapter in Costa Rica does exist.
Information from Bandidos official website on the group and its Costa Rica chapter.
"Through the incredible task of facing Vietnam war, Don Chambers realized the value of loyalty within his fellow soldiers. Fighting side by side, sharing everything they had, he survived to bring the Marine Corp. colors, "Red n Gold" to Texas.
The year was 1966, and Bandidos MC was born. After lots of hard work, we expanded rapidly through Texas and into the surroundings states.
Through thousands of miles traveled together, overcoming resistance from other moto clubs and law enforcement, we stayed together, learning the meaning of
"LOVE, LOYALTY AND RESPECT".
In 2004, we moved into Central America bringing true brotherhood and a real moto club to COSTA RICA."
The Vagos Motorcycle Club, which is even less known in many areas, may have the strongest ties to Mexico of all biker gangs. The club has at least 10 official clubs in Mexico. The club was founded in 1965 in Southern California, and currently has over 750 full fledged members. That estimate likely does not count the hundreds who have recently joined the group in central Mexico as clubs have grown tremendously in Mexico City and Guadalajara.
From the ABOUT us section on the groups website
"IN EARLY 1969 ..MEMBERS OF 4 MOTORCYCLE CLUBS IN THE SAN GABRIEL VALLEY IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA CAME TOGETHER AS ONE AND RODE TO THE MOTHER CHARTER IN BERDOO AND BECAME THE S.G.V CHARTER OF THE VAGOS M.C.
THESE CLUBS WERE THE DIRTY DIRTY DOZEN , THE GHOSTMEN , THE SABRES AND THE VERDUGOS .
THOSE CHARTER MEMBERS , PARTS , FLIP , PROPHET , JERRY THE JEW , HIPPY FRANK, DUCK, AND OTHERS HAD A VISION TO EXPAND THE VAGOS BEYOND BERDOO. SINCE THOSE EARLY YEARS , THE CLUB IS NOW IN THE UNITED STATES , MEXICO , CANADA , EUROPE AND SCANDANAVIA .
THESE EARLY MEMBERS PAVED THE ROAD AHEAD FOR ALL MEMBERS TO COME AFTER.
THE S.G.V. CHAPTER OF VAGOS M.C. HAS STOOD STRONG FOR OVER 40 YEARS AND WILL BE AROUND FOR MANY MORE.
VIVA LOS VAGOS !"
In Mexico, the Vagos are aligned with several other smaller biker gangs such as the Angeles Libres and the Dorados.
A recruitment note found on a blog by the leader of one of those aligned groups.
"The Angeles Libres MC is a member of the "Hermandad" also known as the brotherhood of bikers in Mexico. Their purpose is to ride, party and just have a good time. With the "Hermandad" there is no need to worry about your safety. The members stand one for all and all for one. Some of the "Hermandad" members include the Infernales MC, Dorados MC, Angeles Libres MC, Vagos MC and a variety of others in Mexico as well as the USA.
The Hermandad President is Oscar "Conejo" Duran also founder and international president of the Dorados MC whose chapters include Tijuana, Ensenada and So. California.
There is always something going on within the "Hermandad". One club or another is having an anniversary, toy run or one benefit or another so you will never lack for time on the road. They are a great group of people to be with on any given weekend. Only the best run with the Hermandad."
Despite popular belief, crime related to these biker gangs is typically isolated among themselves. Often times when an outlaw biker makes headlines it because he has killed a rival member, fellow member, or committed a domestic abuse offense. Bar fights are common, but random violence against others are not. These groups typically are not known to target or rob innocent bystanders. A code of conduct is typically strictly enforced among the groups.
The violence these gangs inflict can be downplayed to an extent, but their love affair with methamphetamine cannot. The term “crank” itself came from bikers. Outlaw bikers used to sell a home-brew meth formula that eventually was termed crank. The name came from bikers hiding it in their Harley Davidson crank cases on their bikes.
In the 1970’s biker gangs controlled the majority of the meth trade in the U.S. Expanding from their original market which was focused on rural America where cocaine was overpriced and hard to regularly get.
The first style of meth to really hit the streets was P2P, which law enforcement refers to as the biker method. This involves using the chemical phenyl-2-propanone, which in the 1970's was easy to get a hold of. P2P typically had to be injected to get high.
According to most experts, methamphetamine started to commonly appear on the west coast in the early 1980’s. Most of it was still manufactured by biker gangs using their cheap and homestyle methods. Laws were quickly made to ban possession of precursors and equipment to manufacture meth in 1983. This only drove the price up, putting more profit in outlaw biker gang’s pockets. The bikers adapted, using other chemicals to manufacture meth over the years.
Historically in most regions meth is not a drug that is sold on street corners. It is not marketed the way other narcotics are. Meth is usually distributed in a community of people. Those who sell often are selling to support their habit. Meth often is trafficked and delivered to a specific clientele, such as a trailer park, a small rural town, an urban apartment complex, or a biker gang. Meth dealers know who use meth, they are not typically looking daily to push it onto new users.
By the late 1990’s and into the 2000’s, Mexican cartels where making massive drug labs to produce meth. This process made it hard for bikers to produce enough high quality product to compete with Mexican prices. Their hard work of spreading meth use had come to bite them in the ass as they had drawn in a new competitor. It finally came time for outlaw biker gangs to make a deal with the cartel.
While clearly the deals that were made in following years were never made public, it is obvious by the product the bikers were distributing it was solid. The bikers further from the border still dealt some homebrew, but the gangs in urban hubs closer to Mexico had no choice but to sell Mexican meth. The product was too strong and cheap for them to continue to use their own.
Response from Randy Weaver, Senior Research Specialist at the National Drug Intelligence Center when asked about the topic.
Q--What is the extent of cooperation or conflict between U.S. organizations like the biker gangs and the Mexican gangs or organizations?
A--From the information we have seen thus far, it very much appears the biker gangs, in most cases, have accepted the fact that Mexican organizations can produce methamphetamine at a cheaper rate than they can themselves. In the United States, we have seen information that the Mexican organizations are actually selling to or fronting for methamphetamine biker gangs. Meth is then being distributed to other biker gangs or among these organizations in the areas of influence in the United States.
The U.S. State Department listed the Mongols, Hells Angels, Bandidos, and Vagos, as all having ties to Mexican drug trafficking organizations in 2011. By this time, numerous law enforcement agencies have agreed and stated that outlaw motorcycle gangs have created strong ties with Mexican cartels in order to keep drugs flowing.
In late 2012, biker gang members in Australia were arrested on drug charges and accused of having links to Mexican drug cartels. The gang in Australia was reportedly communicating with cartels in Mexico by way of encrypted Blackberry messages. The DEA had previously stated that the Sinaloa cartel is the largest supplier of narcotics to Australian gangs.
In early 2013, US court documents stated that the Hells Angels were buying narcotics wholesale from Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel and moving it as far as New York and Canada.
While it is not clear if Mexican organizations are actually providing shelter for outlaw bikers on the run, they do tend to run south of the border when the heat is on. Wanted members of the Vagos and Mongols have been known to relocate to Mexico chapters in order to dodge convictions. Having a pre-existing network in place makes it easy for those to flee the U.S.
In July of 2011, two notorious Mongol members were arrested by authorities in Tijuana. The suspects, Peter Soto and Oscar Olivas, were wanted for the attempted murder of a Hells Angel member in California.
While biker convictions and high profile cases seem to have died out in the last few years, as recent as May of 2013 a group of Rock Hill (South Carolina) Hells Angels are expecting strong sentences after federal convictions. After being convicted of crimes involving drug charges, weapon violations, and a criminal conspiracy web, six are facing life sentences of the 15 total convicted.
Snitching occurs in all levels of crime, yet biker gangs have sustained a tighter program than many crime syndicates. The life-long loyalty and intimidation that these gangs exhibit may be the secret to their current long term success. Ranking members may be aging or in prison, but new recruits are readily available. However, joining these gangs could take years, not a 30 second beat in like some street gangs.
Outlaw biker gangs may keep a lower profile than before, but they still play an important hand in the North American drug trade. Their power may have dwindled as Mexican cartels created a superior product and law enforcement have made crackdowns, but the presence and force of these gangs will be felt in the streets for many more years to come.
For more information see
61 Mongols arrested across U.S.
42 Outlaws arrested in Indianapolis
28 Bandidos arrested in Dallas
11 Vagos arrested in Arizona
I'm surprised you included the Vagos. I used to have a couple of guys from the club work for me, and they really hustled, but we had to let them go because of law enforcement attention. They were really understanding, although they seemed hurt that we wouldn't just tell the cops to fuck off.
I grew up around some HA's, and I don't have fond memories. My dad always told me, the thing about bikers is, every chapter has at least one snitch, and if you do business with the club, that snitch will eventually bring you down before they'll bring down their brothers.
Those that say, don't know. Those that know, don't say.
The Vagos are probably the most loose net group out of those mentioned. They still are legit, but seem to be less strict on rules, members, ect and more working towards larger numbers.
This post was updated on .
In reply to this post by K_Mennem
Good write up. I've read a few books on biker gangs but still have a lot more to read and catch up on. Thanks for the good read.
Thanks El Nayaloense, I appreciate it.
In reply to this post by K_Mennem
This is a great article by the way. Thanks for the read.
Those that say, don't know. Those that know, don't say.
Thanks bud. ya, bikers are a different bread of cats. Very loyal to their own, you just dont want to cross them.
Great read! Filled in a few gaps for me. Now I'm interested to research more. Keep up the good work @ K_Mennem!!
My good friend is HA and hates drugs. I went to a party with a few of them and they were all cool. Its a cool thing in some aspects but some things are very stupid. I wouldnt want to risk jail time just to be in a club personally.
I live in Ocean Beach San Diego and there's a bunch of Hells Angels here. I know a few. My step dad is really close with a couple of them, but I don't ask any questions. Good people to know around here though. I've never had any problems with them...
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