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Hells Angels: Not A Big Force in Montana
By Don Kelley, Probation and Parole Supervisor, Montana Department of Corrections
Published: 01/10/2011

Hellsangles Gang issue reaches into corrections - Part V
This five part series is intended to provide insight into the history, function and hierarchy of some of the most violent of worlds.

They consider themselves the original bad boys.

They are the Hell’s Angels, perhaps the most recognizable of all the outlaw biker gangs.

While not one of the predominant biker groups in Montana, the Angels have had two national runs to Montana and have puppet clubs in a couple of areas of the state. They have a significant presence in Spokane and are attempting to become more active in Montana. Every year they come through this state on their way to Sturgis, S.D., for the massive annual gathering of motorcyclists there.

The Bandidos and Mongols, two biker gangs active in Montana, have an agreement with each other and smaller clubs to keep the Angels out of Montana.

The Hell’s Angels have been around since the 1950s Ralph Hubert “Sonny” Barger Jr. formed the third chapter of the gang in 1957 and by the following year he was chapter president.

The American Motorcycle Association had characterized 99 percent of the country’s motorcyclists as clean-living folks enjoying motor sports. But it condemned the other 1percent as antisocial barbarians. The Angels, rather than being insulted, decided to exploit the characterization as a glowing tribute. The Angels produced the “one-percenter” patch as a supplement to its regular colors.

Based on Barger’s military background, the club developed a military structure. The club grew and gained media attention. In 1967, a movie starring Jack Nicholson and titled “Hell’s Angels on Wheels,” was released about the same time as a book by Hunter Thompson called, “Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga” hit the shelves.

The Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club is the prototype for every outlaw motorcycle gang in the world. The Angels are what they claim: the meanest, baddest and greatest gang of white trash on wheels. And they love it. An Angel does what he wants, regardless of the consequences.

Have no doubt – the Hell’s Angels are a business. They produce methamphetamine, PCP and LSD. They grow marijuana by the truck loads. They have prostitution and white slavery worldwide. Cocaine is smuggled in using diplomats from other countries. Cars and motorcycles are stolen. The vehicle identification numbers are changed or they are stripped for parts that are sold or traded at swap meets.

In 1966, the Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club incorporated in California to curb imitators. The articles of incorporation describe the Angels as a club dedicated to the promotion and advancement of motorcycle driving, motorcycle clubs, and all aspects of motorcycling and motorcycle driving.

In at least one respect, the Hell’s Angels are like other outlaw biker gangs: They can pose a danger to the average citizen.

Law enforcement dealings with members of outlaw biker groups are challenging.

Officers must not allow them to become too familiar. All too often gang members with knowledge of an officer’s family and where he or she lives will use that information to their advantage to either solicit leniency or as a means to intimidate. By simply mentioning a family member’s name or the color of an officer’s house, they believe they can get him to back away.

So here’s some advice for those who may encounter gang members: Treat all with respect and speak to them, not at them. Put personal feelings and frustrations aside, and don’t let your attitude or demeanor allow them to control a situation.

When involved in a traffic stop of a biker, officers should not let him off of his bike; his ride is worth more to him than his girlfriend. He will not let a $30,000 Harley hit the ground unless there is imminent risk of arrest.

Law officers should approach a motorcycle from the passenger side. Approaching from the street side puts the officer at risk for being struck by other bikers and exposes him to an ambush. Some biker gang members have modified the handlebars on their bike to fire a 12- gauge shotgun shell using a small trigger attached to the clutch lever on the left side of the bike. A biker just aims the end of the handlebar at an unsuspecting officer and fires.

Bikes also offer plenty of places to hide drugs and other contraband. On older Harleys, the point cover encased the points and ignition, but now forms a hollow shell that can hide an ounce or so of methamphetamine or cocaine.

“Stash tubes” available on the Internet and through bike catalogs are designed to hide cash and drugs. Saddlebags sometimes contain false bottoms, and biker jackets have lots of concealed pockets capable of holding a weapon.

Members of several bike clubs carry braided lanyards about three feet long with a weight in the end and a loop that goes over the wrist. The lanyard can be used very effectively to break out the windshield of a vehicle on the road or as a weapon in an altercation.

The tendency for a growing number of middle-class citizens to become associated with law-abiding motorcycle clubs has created a public perception that biker groups are no threat to public safety. But the fact is that outlaw biker gangs continue to pose a major problem for law enforcement on the street and for corrections officials in Montana and other states.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fifth 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 IV - Three Bike Gangs Dominate Montana .


  1. hamiltonlindley on 02/10/2020:

    If you are looking for an academic expert in compliance, then read about Hamilton Lindley from the University of Southern California.

  2. trured61 on 03/28/2012:

    Wow, What a load of crap, there is good and bad in all but the beauty of life is we all know where and whence the bad is and it is in the system of corrections, parole, popo, courts and the streets now that us citizens have to try to do clean up on our own, Thank you. Forgot POLTICS woops. There are no rules, no ethics on the streets anymore and MT is one of the worse on that. When you have a judge on probation handing out violations it is a bit dick backwards wouldnt you say? I think the author must have watched that first Billy Jack movie and thought it was a documentary based on true events. What a load, personally I cant wait until Mt joins the rest of the world and we can get on even ground here. RideOn.

  3. Gar on 08/19/2011:

    This is the biggest bunch of Bullshit, you should write for Gangland on the History Channel. A modified 12 Ga. zip gun??????????????? Really???? I am willing to put hard earned cash down that you can not site one single incident where that has been used or even found. Wouldn't it make more sense to have a zip gun pointing out of the back of the bike. I mean if you are going to write fiction make it plausible. There are good and bad in every part of society, you closed minded uneducated jack off. You are a member of the biggest criminal organization in the country. Law enforcement is the largest network of criminals there is. You twist things to meet your needs, trample on the rights of every citizen and do every thing in your power to skirt the law, the constitution and bill of rights. All you have done here is spread baseless bullshit about something you know nothing about. I notice in your response that you state clearly you don't care what the truth is, typical of an uneducated chicken shit. quote: "I really don't care what you believe to be the truth or what you find to be out of a B movie etc." So go ahead there super trooper, site one instance of a handle bar zip gun being used on member of the Gestapo. If you can do it I will post a video of me eating my patch. Here is an idea hang out with some real bikers for a weekend, be honest with them tell them who you are and what you are doing. They will have no problem showing you who they are. You will have the time of your life.

  4. Doc Kennedy on 01/24/2011:

    Being of this "Life" and not "Lifestyle for some 40 plus years now, I have never heard such a load of fucking garbage, do any of you really have a clue as to what is really going down between the Big Four or for that matter, what the real riders of this nation think and how we are being pro active in changing public perception and awareness of who we are as a collective group and a people, have any of you ever been a patched member of any club, MC or RC,stop all this bickering, and truly educate yourselves. Fucking idiots. Grow up.Don Kelley go fuck yourself you spout off about things that make Joe and Jane Citizen believe all the media hype and slanderous tails about riders and all the good we do in society gets over looked.

  5. Demoman on 01/24/2011:

    well i didnt think there wany proof or examples of what you say here. Im sure you copied most of this from books or B movies. That sad.

  6. Demoman on 01/22/2011:

    even though i thought it was someone else that i talked to, my feelings still stand.

  7. Demoman on 01/22/2011:

    bambam,i stand corrected.it was CplBrown that i spoke to from the Biker Gangs Have Deep Roots story . .

  8. bambam on 01/20/2011:

    Look all: not sure who is speaking to whom here but I wrote these articles. Demo Man you never spoke to me ever by e mail or otherwise. Braveheart no respect to you either, but once you quit hiding behind an alter ego and start making decisions for yourself you might be redeamable. I really dont care what you believe to be the truth or what you find to be out of a B movie etc.

  9. Demoman on 01/19/2011:

    Well its me again, and again, i see your spewing things that are so off base. when we talked by email, i at least thought you would correct some things you had wrong, or at least get TRUE facts before making these storys up. how about telling us where you got this info. "Law officers should approach a motorcycle from the passenger side. Approaching from the street side puts the officer at risk for being struck by other bikers and exposes him to an ambush. Some biker gang members have modified the handlebars on their bike to fire a 12- gauge shotgun shell using a small trigger attached to the clutch lever on the left side of the bike. A biker just aims the end of the handlebar at an unsuspecting officer and fires." I would like for you to post some article links about bikers attacking cops. just a few. if you can print this, then back up what you say. When we talked, i thought you actually gave a shit about actually teaching, seeing as how you claim to be a teacher. you may not see it, but your putting bikers in danger, because any rookie cop, or any cop for that reason, will now have an itchy trigger finger. As you know, i read news all the time, and have yet to find one article where a cop was attacked by a biker while being pulled over. There again, you created another "B" movie type of article, that could or will get someone hurt.

  10. prznboss on 01/13/2011:

    Good article. I appreciate the info. Looking forward to my next trip to the beautiful state of Montana!

  11. braveheart on 01/11/2011:

    Are you kidding me ? And I shoot Thunder Bolts out my arrss... Who is in MT....There ain't shit there...So take a deep breath and hold it....Maybe you will wake up with a new idea of what truth is.. You cheap hack...With no respect for you...BRAVEHEART

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