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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Feds warn of increase of Outlaw Bikers in Florida

“We've seen them Outlaw Bikers riding colors with their jackets on. 

MARATHON, FL ( December 3, 2016)The FBI warned local law enforcement last month that Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs are increasing their presence in South Florida, especially in the Keys.

And their presence has been particularly noticed at popular Motorcycle events like the Peterson Poker Run, held annually throughout the island chain in September.

“We’ve seen in the last couple of years, during events like the Peterson Poker Run, an increase in Outlaw Bikers participating,” said Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay. “We've seen them Outlaw Bikers riding colors with their jackets on. Historically, you haven’t seen that.”

“Colors” for motorcycle clubs generally are a three-part arrangement of patches depicting the club name and its location.

The FBI in November sent a memo to Keys law enforcement agencies stating that various Motorcycle Clubs are trying to gain territory in South Florida. The Outlaws MC, regarded as the dominant Motorcycle Club in the region, likely would respond by making efforts to increase its presence and influence, according to the memo.

A member of the Black Pistons MC and Outlaws MC at an event

Ramsay said the document warned of an increased incidence of Outlaw Motorcycle Club activity in the Keys, and that there could be “conflicts between club members.”

“The information put out was an FYI and to be aware and mindful,” Ramsay said.

Nora Scheland, an FBI spokeswoman, declined to comment on the warning.

City of Key West Police Department Chief Donald J. Lee said that his department also received information about Outlaw Biker Clubs would take part in the Poker Run, but he would not elaborate on which agency shared the intelligence.

“We are constantly sharing intelligence information with other law enforcement agencies, but, in the interest of public safety, do not disclose active intelligence information,” Lee said.

“As far as shared information regarding Outlaw Biker activity, we were made aware both before and during the Poker Run, that there was a chance biker gangs would be in attendance,” Lee said. “This is not the first year they’ve come to the Keys for Poker Run, by any means.”

Ramsay said life for Motorcycle Club members has changed over the years. No longer are the organizations’ membership made up solely of men whose only job is in the club.

“It used to be that groups like the Outlaws and the Pagans were made up of guys whose sole job was being involved in criminal enterprises,” Ramsay said. “They didn’t have day jobs.”

Now, he said members have “dual roles, dual lives. They’re trying to blend into two different societies.”

Indeed, a member of the Outlaws MC involved in a barroom brawl in Key West during the Poker Run in September also is a Hillsborough County firefighter.

“A lot of them are just bad guys,” Ramsay said. “But others are also firefighters or something else, riding with their friends.”