|Three Bike Gangs Dominate Montana|
|By Don Kelley, Probation and Parole Supervisor, Montana Department of Corrections|
Gang issue reaches into corrections - Part IV
This five part series is intended to provide insight into the history, function and hierarchy of some of the most violent of worlds.
This installment deals with the motorcycle clubs with the largest presence in Montana. Recent law enforcement interdiction has caused considerable difficulties among the bikers, but did not eliminate their presence or eradicate the majority of the members.
The Bandidos recently were involved in an “internal cleansing” in which the presidency returned from Seattle to Texas and the groups expanded its territory.
The Mongol nation has a strong presence in Helena as well as Philipsburg. A recent incident in Philipsburg resulted in Mongol member stabbing a man six times in a brawl over a former girlfriend.
The Outlaw nation recently was the target of a national crackdown by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that involved the group’s state president in Livingston. Other chapters are located in Bozeman and Butte. The ATF investigation into the Montana members continues.
The Bandidos club was formed in 1966 in Houston by Donald Eugene Chambers. He created the outlaw motorcycle club to control drug trafficking and prostitution in Texas. He saw a TV commercial with the Frito Bandido hawking the popular corn chips. The cartoon character robbed people of their Fritos and complained about being pursued by the “Frito Bureau of Investigation.”
Chambers called his gang the Bandidos and adopted a fat, machete- and pistol-wielding version of the animated bandit as the club’s colors.
The Bandidos, also called the Bandido Nation, are the fastest-growing outlaw motorcycle gang in the country. The club has about 30 chapters and 500 members. It even has Australian and European chapters, acquired with much bloodletting.
The Bandidos are involved in drug trafficking, prostitution, contract murder, fencing, extortion, stealing and running weapons, welfare and bank fraud, and arson. The bikers make most of their money manufacturing and selling methamphetamine. Club members and associates who are pilots smuggle drugs and guns across the border and state lines.
The Nomad chapter handles Bandido security and internal discipline. The chapter is made up of charter members who have been with the club for more than five years. The chapter compiles files on police forces and outlaw motorcycle gangs they consider to be enemies.
The Bandidos’ alliance with the Outlaws began in 1978 in an effort to expand their drug network. The Outlaws provide the Bandidos with cocaine they obtained from Colombian and Cuban suppliers. Both clubs socialize in Bandido- controlled towns.
The Outlaws Motorcycle Club, also called the American Outlaw Association, was founded by John Davis in 1959 in Chicago. The club has about 34 chapters in the United States and Canada, with about 900 members. Detroit has been the “mother chapter” since 1984. It changed from Chicago when a new national president was elected.
The club rallies under the Outlaws’ colors, affectionately known as Charlie. Charlie is a white skull with crossed pistons on a black background. The skull has beady red eyes, which are supposed to watch for trouble behind the wearer’s back. The pistons are outlined in red. The skull is borrowed from the back of Marlon Brando’s black leather Jacket in the 1953 bikegang movie, “The Wild One.”
The club motto is simple: “God forgives, Outlaws don’t.”
While Outlaw chapters operate independently, regional and national officers control drug trafficking, relations with other motorcycle gangs and the distribution of the club’s profits. The Outlaws are involved in extortion, contract murders, motor vehicle thefts, gun and explosives running, armed robbery, rape and mail fraud in addition to drug trafficking and prostitution.
Outlaw members must sell drugs and own at least one handgun. Members work in pairs to avoid screw-ups and to avoid situations where the club can lose face. A lone biker is considered a tempting target for punks trying to impress each other.
Drug selling is the Outlaws’ main source of income. “Canadian Blue,” which refers to diazepam (Valium), is manufactured in clandestine Ontario laboratories and smuggled across the border, usually to Chicago. It is distributed from Chicago to different chapters. Some pay cash for the drugs, others trade weapons, women or methamphetamine.
The Florida chapters buy the club’s cocaine from Colombian and Cuban suppliers. The Outlaws also manufacture and distribute cocaine and methamphetamine in the Fort Lauderdale area. They own property in South Florida where smugglers dock and unload their boats. The Milwaukee chapter controls the methamphetamine market in Wisconsin. The Outlaws also control methamphetamine laboratories in Georgia.
The Mongols Motorcycle Club, or Mongol Nation, formed in Montebello, Calif., in 1969 and was named after the nomadic tribes of northeast Asia. Original members reportedly were disgruntled Vietnam-era veterans. During the 1960s, The Hells Angels would not allow Hispanics into the club simply due to their race and the Mongols supposedly formed in response to that restriction.
Approximately 650 Mongols, or “full patches,” operate in the United States. The Mongols are friendly with the Outlaws due to a mutual hatred for the Hells Angels. A confrontation between the Hells Angels and the Mongols at Harrah’s Casino in Laughlin, Nev., on April 27, 2002, left two Hells Angel and one Mongol dead.
William Queen, an ATF agent who infiltrated the Mongols in 1998, wrote a very good book about the club called Under and Alone. He describes his two-year life with the Mongols. Resulting federal indictments of 54 Mongol members led to all but one of them being convicted.
In 2008, the Mongols again were infiltrated by the ATF. The investigation culminated in over 100 arrest warrants and over 150 search warrants. Another result was the barring of club members from wearing or displaying club colors, and the conviction of many in leadership.
A federal magistrate found the club to be a criminal organization that used the “colors” to identify other members. The judge’s ruling was overturned on appeal and the right of club members to wear their colors was restored.
The mayor of Lancaster, Calif., perhaps stated it most accurately in describing the club this way: “They are engaged in domestic terrorism … and plan to kill our children.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fourth in a series of articles, reprinted with permission, about street gangs and motorcycle clubs in Montana, issues for both correctional officers and probation and parole officers.
Part I - Street Gangs Got Start in L.A.
Part II - Gangs Lure Members in Getting Foothold
Part III - Biker Gangs Have Deep Roots .
Part V - Hells Angels not big force in Montana
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT