Friday, November 30, 2018

Bandidos MC member busted with pot crop

Sydney, AU (November 29, 2018) BTN — A senior member of the Bandidos motorcycle club will face court today after Strike Force Raptor located an elaborate hydro set-up in a bunker under a Western Sydney home, NSW Police say.

As part of ongoing targeting of criminal networks operating in NSW, the Criminal Groups Squad’s Strike Force Raptor attended a property at East Kurrajong about 7.30am yesterday (Tuesday 27 November 2018) to conduct a Firearms Prohibition Order (FPO) search.

Officers spoke with the subject of the FPO – a 41-year-old man – and his partner and two kids before commencing the search.

During the search, police located a hidden trapdoor which lead to an underground bunker which contained an elaborate hydroponic set-up.

A crime scene was established, and a short time later, Strike Force Raptor, assisted by specialist forensic officers, executed a crime scene warrant to dismantle the set-up. Police were also assisted at the location by an agronomist, Integral Energy, and Fire & Rescue NSW.

During the warrant, Strike Force Raptor seized 164 cannabis plants at various stages of maturity, 2kg of dried cannabis, and equipment used in the hydroponic cultivation of cannabis.

The 41-year-old man was arrested at the property and taken to Windsor Police Station.

He was charged with enhanced indoor cultivation for a commercial purpose, two counts of supply prohibited drug, and operate drug premises.

The man, who is a senior member of the Bandidos motorcycle club, was refused bail to appear at Windsor Local Court.

Strike Force Raptor was established in 2009 and conducts proactive investigations and intelligence-based, high-impact policing operations to prevent and disrupt conflicts, and dismantle any network engaged in serious organised criminal activity.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Jesse Ventura defends Mongols MC in federal court

Santa Ana, California (November 29, 2018) BTN — Former Minnesota governor and retired pro wrestler Jesse Ventura testified in a Santa Ana courtroom Wednesday about his longstanding membership in the Mongols Motorcycle Club, defending the organization against government allegations that it has operated as a criminal enterprise.

Ventura, the highest profile member of the Mongols, took the stand as an expert witness in the midst of an ongoing federal racketeering trial in which prosecutors are attempting to gain control over the motorcycle club’s trademark name, a move that would allow law enforcement to bar the bikers from wearing the patches that adorn their vests.

Jesse Ventura sitting on his Harley - Photo Credit: Alexia Wambua

“Are you a member of the Mongols Motorcycle Club,” Attorney Joseph Yanny, who is representing the Mongols, asked Ventura at the beginning of his testimony. “Yes I am,” replied Ventura, who later explained that he is currently an inactive member of the Mongols. “Are you member of a gang?” Yanny asked. “No,” Ventura responded. “Gangs generally don’t broadcast who they are.”

Related | Feds attempt to seize Mongols MC trademarked logo
During the trial, prosecutors have accused Mongols’ leaders of encouraging and rewarding members who commit crimes, including assault, drug trafficking and murder. The Mongols’ attorney has denied the allegations, telling jurors that the organization isn’t responsible for crimes committed by individual members or attacks carried out in self-defense, and claiming that law enforcement has entrapped some members into committing crimes.

Ventura said he joined the Mongols in 1973, shortly after returning from his second tour in Vietnam. The former governor testified that he was still an active duty member of the U.S. Navy when he became a “full-patch” member of the Mongols, recalling putting on his club vest as he left the base. “It was a stepping stone I needed to make the transition from military life back to civilian life,” Ventura said. “I owe them for being there for me when the rest of the world wasn’t.”

Ventura became an officer in the now-defunct South Bay San Diego County chapter of Mongols, but by late 1974 decided to step back from active membership in order to move back to Minnesota, where he had grown up. But Ventura said he has held onto his club vest and patches, including a “property of” patch he gave to his wife last year after more than 40 years of marriage.

Ventura denied that he had been ordered to take part in illegal activity as part of the Mongols.

“Yeah, there are some bad apples, that is true for any organization,” Ventura said. “But there are also a lot of damn good people in there. You can’t blame all for a few.” Ventura acknowledged he was not an active member of the Mongols when the clubs problems with the Hells Angels motorcycle club began in the late 70s, a rivalry that has led to repeated bloodshed on both sides over the subsequent decades. He said the Mongols had no choice but to retaliate. “I’d lose respect for them if they didn’t,” Ventura said.

During at times contentious questioning, a prosecutor challenged Ventura’s claim that he was unaware of any illegal activity. A clip of an interview between Ventura and podcaster Joe Rogan was played for the court, in which Ventura said the group’s president would tell him to leave their meetings if they were going to talk about illegal activity, since they knew Ventura was still in the military.

In the portion of the interview played in court, Ventura responded to Rogan asking him if it was weird to be in an organization involved in illegal activity by saying “No, because I thought at least I’m not going to go to jail.”

Ventura testified that he had no idea what the rest of the club’s leadership talked about during the meetings when he wasn’t present. At times, Ventura responded angrily or sarcastically to the prosecutors’ questions, at one point saying “are you kidding me” when asked if he knew what a SWAT team is.

What the Feds want

“I believe this trial is ridiculous because of the First Amendment,” Ventura said. During breaks in the hearing, a group of Mongols, dressed in suits and ties, gathered around to speak to Ventura in the hallway outside the courtroom.

The current federal trial stems from Operation Black Rain, a multi-agency effort involving law enforcement infiltrating the Mongols, which began in Montebello in the 1970s, and is now based in West Covina. An earlier racketeering case that targeted members of the Mongols rather than the organization itself resulted in 77 guilty pleas.

Among the incidents outlined by prosecutors during the trial have been the so-called 2002 River Run Riot in Laughlin, Nev. that left three Hells Angels and Mongols dead, a melee at the Morongo Casino in Cabazon near Palm Springs, and attacks, some fatal, allegedly carried out by Mongols in bars or restaurants in Hollywood, Pasadena, Merced, La Mirada, Wilmington and Riverside.


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Secret recordings of Hells Angels played at trial

Toronto, ON (November 27, 2018) BTN — Clandestine recordings of Hells Angels members from a 2004 police investigation were played Tuesday at the civil forfeiture trial between the B.C. government and the motorcycle club. Former police agent Micheal Plante recalled in B.C. Supreme Court on Tuesday some of the conversations he had with Hells Angels about their conflicts and crimes more than 14 years ago.

Plante, in his second day of testimony on behalf of the director of civil forfeiture, listened intently as tapes of some of his intercepted conversations from 2004 were played for Justice Barry Davies. In one of the tapes, East End Hells Angel member Ronaldo Lising complained to Plante about other members of the club, including his fellow chapter mate, John Punko. Lising referenced Punko’s conviction for threatening a federal prosecutor in a Vancouver food court several years earlier.

The conversation happened in a drive to Kelowna in 2004 when Plante was working on behalf of the RCMP to infiltrate the East End Hells Angels.

Several Hells Angels and associates were later charged and convicted as a result of Plante’s work for the police on the E-Pandora investigation. Plante, who now lives under a new identity, was paid $1 million for his undercover work and for testifying at a series of criminal trials.

He told Davies Monday that he was being paid another $80,000 to testify in the civil proceedings between the Hells Angels and the government agency.

The B.C. Director of Civil Forfeiture is trying to get Hells Angels clubhouses in East Vancouver, Nanaimo and Kelowna forfeited to the government as the instruments of criminal activity. The Hells Angels have counter-sued the government, claiming the Civil Forfeiture Act is unconstitutional. The case has been ongoing since November 2007 when police first raided the Nanaimo clubhouse.

The recordings played Tuesday highlighted the infighting and petty disputes between some of the Hells Angels. In one reference, Lising complained about two other Hells Angels that he was in the drug trade with at the time. Plante explained the references to Davies.

“He was saying he was doing all the work … but he was still paying those guys half the money,” Plante testified.

Cops also want the East End Hells Angels Clubhouse 

Lising also appeared to threaten an unidentified group of people, saying, “those guys are not welcome in this f–king province.”

“If we see them, we are going to f–king take care of them,” he said in the recording.

Lising said he liked “being around Hells Angels” and attacked other full-patch members who didn’t want to socialize much within the group.

“Why do you want to be a Hells Angel if you are not going to hang out with Hells Angels?” he told Plante.

Two lawyers for the Hells Angels, Joe Arvay and Greg DelBigio, both objected to Plante’s attempts to interpret what Lising was referencing in the 14-year-old conversation.

“When he is listening to his own voice, he can say this is what I meant,” Arvay said. “But actually interpreting the tape, I don’t know if he has any greater expertise than any of us.”

Davies said that “the tape is the evidence, not the interpretation and not the transcript.”

“Unfortunately I have been doing this business of listening to these kinds of tapes for a long, long time,” Davies said of the grainy recordings. “I am just very glad that they aren’t playing heavy metal in the background for a change in the car because that’s the usual circumstance.”

Plante will be on the stand all week before returning for cross-examination in February.

SOURCE: The Province

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Pagans MC: Another member sues city officials

Pittsburgh, PA (November 26, 2018) BTN — A second member of the Pagans motorcycle club involved in a brawl with Pittsburgh police at a South Side bar last month that is under review by the U.S. attorney's office has sued the officers, the city and the sheriff.

Erik Heitzenrater, 28, of Hampton, names detectives Brian Burgunder, David Honick, David Lincoln and Brian Martin along with the city of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County Sheriff William Mullen.

The federal suit is the second filed in regard to fight at Kopy's Bar between cops and the Pagans.

Frank DeLuca, a Pagan from Greenfield seen on video being repeatedly beaten, sued last week on claims that his civil rights were violated. Mr. Heitzenrater's suit raises similar allegations, saying the police officers were drunk and initiated the fight with the bikers.

Like Mr. DeLuca, he also claims false arrest and imprisonment, saying police lied in a complaint against him and his friends. He also says the sheriff's office improperly revoked his license to carry a gun after the incident. Mr. Heitzenrater's suit says the police had been drinking heavily in the bar on Oct. 11, starting at 7:30 p.m. The complaint, filed by attorney Martin Dietz, says Detective Honick had at least 13 drinks; Detective Burgunder had 19; Detective Martin had 14 and Detective Lincoln had seven.

Mr. Heitzenrater said Mr. DeLuca and another Pagan, Michael Zokaites, first entered the bar at 11:41 p.m. and ordered drinks. The suit said Detective Honick, who was seated at the bar near the door with the other police, noticed their Pagans jackets and "appeared to have some sort of fascination with DeLuca and Zokaites."

The bikers went to the back room to play pool.

Mr. Heitzenrater came into the bar next. He said Detective Honick noticed his jacket and turned to the other officers to say something. Two other Pagans also came in and ordered drinks. Detective Honick shook their hands and talked to them briefly, according to the complaint. Another Pagan, Bruce Thomas, then came in and stood next to his friends, after which they all went to play pool.

At 12:21 a.m. on Oct. 12, the complaint says, Detective Honick grabbed the bartender by the back of his head and said he and the others were police officers and there was going to be trouble with the Pagans. He told the bartender that the Pagans were staring and pointing at the officers, but the complaint says the bartender said he didn't see any such behavior.

Detective Martin went to the pool room and talked to some of Mr. Heitzenrater's friends, then walked back to the police and raised his arms as if showing off his strength. Detective Martin and several other officers briefly returned to the pool area to talk to the Pagans some more, then went back to the bar.

At 12:31, two of the Pagans left the bar and waved to the officers, at least one of whom waved back, the complaint says.

A few minutes later Mr. DeLuca and Mr. Zokaites walked outside so that Mr. DeLuca could talk on his cell phone. When they came back into the bar, according to the complaint, Detective Honick turned towards them and stared at them.

At 12:36 a.m., tension mounted when Detective Honick lifted his shirt to show a gun his waistband, the complaint says. Nearby, Detective Burgunder also placed a gun in his waistband after receiving a clip from Detective Lincoln.

The complaint says Detective Lincoln, meanwhile, tried to calm Detective Honick, and shook Mr. DeLuca's hand. Mr. DeLuca also shook Detective Honick's hand, but the detective began arguing with the biker while handling the gun, according to the complaint.

The situation then escalated, with Detective Martin now yelling at the bikers as well. At 12:40, Mr. DeLuca pushed Detective Honick, and a melee erupted. Uniformed officers who had arrived a few moment earlier tried to pull Detective Honick away but didn't obey them and attacked Mr. DeLuca, the complaint alleges.

Mr. Zokaites tried to help his friend but was struck with a Taser and fell to the ground, where according to the complaint Detective Martin began punching him. Detective Martin also threw Mr. Thomas into some bar stools as the fighting progressed.

Mr. Heitzenrater said that Detective Honick approached him during the brawl and raised his fist as if to hit him, but Mr. Heitzenrater said he put his hands up to show he had a splint on his left hand and didn't want to fight.

At that point, according to the complaint, Detective Honick turned away to punch Mr. DeLuca. But Detective Martin then swore at Mr. Heitzenrater and punched him twice in the head, knocking him down. As he lay on the ground, he said Detective Martin taunted him and claiming that Mr. Heitzenrater had grabbed him.

Video of the incident shows no grab, according to the complaint.

After the fight, Mr. Heitzenrater and his friends were arrested on assault charges and jailed. The Allegheny County district attorney's later dropped those charges.

The FBI and U.S. attorney's office are examining the case for possible civil rights violations against the police.

Bandidos MC: Ex member testifies against club

Houston, TX (November 26, 2018) BTN — A high-ranking member of the Bandidos motorcycle club turned government witness was rewarded Monday with a relatively light sentence by a Houston federal court. William Gerald “Big G” Ojemann, of Houston, was handed a two-year prison sentence for drug possession after dishing on the inner workings of the Bandidos Motorcycle Club and the bosses behind it.

Police displaying confiscated Bandidos MC Club property 

During a lengthy racketeering trial earlier this year in San Antonio, Ojemann testified that he and other club members carried out orders from former Bandidos President Jeffrey Fay Pike and his second-in-command, John Xavier Portillo. Those orders, according to Ojemann, included violent assaults and intimidation of rivals and fellow Bandidos.

Ojemann testified in April that Pike tasked him and another national member with finding and beating the Costa Rica chapter leader for not supporting his bid to cast off the Europe and Australia groups. The attack never happened because John “Galveston John” Lammins, president of a chapter in Costa Rica, was tipped off and was a no-show, he testified.

During Ojemann’s five years as a Bandidos club member, from 2008 until 2013, he rose to the rank of national sergeant-at-arms. He testified that Pike eventually gave him the boot but allowed him to remain in “good standing.”

A majority of the documents detailing Ojemann’s sentencing were sealed last week. Court records filed Monday show federal Judge Vanessa D. Gilmore signed off on dismissing two more counts of drug possession and a single count of firearm possession for a drug trafficking crime against Ojemann. It was then recommended that Ojemann be incarcerated at the Bastrop prison or another federal facility close to Houston.

As part of his punishment, Ojemann is required to undergo a mental health treatment program.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Hells Angels colors not cool with Salvation Army

Valparaiso, IN  (November 25, 2018) BTN —  Controversial “Aryan” patches worn by bell-ringing volunteers in Valparaiso do not match Salvation Army values, officials from the charity said Sunday.

Two days after images of bell ringers sporting controversial patches on leather jackets outside the Valparaiso Walmart went viral on social media, the Salvation Army released a statement on the matter.

Hells Angels members volunteering outside a Valparaiso, Indiana Walmart

Lt. Christopher Nicolai, of The Salvation Army of Porter County, said in a written statement Sunday that the bell ringers in question, members of a local Hells Angels motorcycle club, violated the charitable organization's dress code and would not be allowed to do bell ringing in the future.

"Our commitment to nondiscrimination includes a dress code for bell ringers, requiring that they wear red Salvation Army aprons, and making it clear that no "symbol, marking or lettering that is viewed as discrimination" may be worn, Nicolai said in the statement. "Clearly, the bell ringers in question did not comply with this dress code. They will not be allowed to volunteer in the future. We are embarrassed that we were unable to prevent this incident, and apologize to all who were offended, as were we."

Images shared on Facebook and with The Times show men with leather jackets, one with a patch reading "Aryan" and another with a Confederate flag patch ringing the bell Friday for the Salvation Army.

The bell ringers in question were confirmed to be members of the Hells Angels Northwest Indiana Region Motorcycle Club.

They confirmed through a Facebook post Sunday that the Salvation Army had canceled another bell-ringing event the club had scheduled.

"Due to all the negative comments about our holiday charity work. The Salvation Army was forced to cancel our upcoming bell ringing date in December. We hope all that responded negatively, will donate their time ringing the bell for the Salvation Army," the post stated.

On Friday, the motorcycle club responded to the criticism and attempted to explain the controversial patches.

"Our worldwide multinational, multiracial motorcycle club excepts motorcyclists from all walks of life," a representative for the motorcycle club said.

The representative said some members may wear "heritage-based" patches, such as Latinos wearing "LATINO," Japanese wearing "BUSHIDO" and whites wearing "ARYAN." He also said most members do not sport these types of patches.

"That's not what our clubs is about," the representative said. "However like all Americans, we love exercising our freedom. Sometimes freedom means you see and hear things you may not like. We accept that. The focus of today has nothing to do with freedom though. It has to do with charity and sacrificing for you community.

"I'd suggest to those making negative comments that maybe a little less time should be spent exercising your freedom of speech and a little more be spent to making a positive difference in our society."

The Hells Angels Northwest Indiana Region advertised their plans to bell ring on their Facebook page Friday morning. The post, including a graphic depicting the well-known red Salvation Army bucket and logos, shared that Hells Angels members would be collecting donations from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday at the Valparaiso Walmart.

On Saturday, the Hells Angels posted again — this time including their own photos of members dressed in vests with patches and Santa hats next to the Salvation Army's "Doing the Most Good" sign and buckets. One appeared to be sporting the "Aryan" patch that attracted attention in the original Facebook post that went viral.

"Thank you Valparaiso for showing your support for our less fortunate neighbors," the Hells Angels NWI Region Facebook post read. "You helped us fill 6 buckets fulla cash! Big thanks to the Salvation Army for the opportunity to help our community."

The original Facebook post was shared more than 10,000 times before being taken down.

The woman who made the original post on Facebook said the photos were taken by her mother.

The poster, whose name is being withheld, said her mother notified a Walmart manager about the men and their vests. The manager asked the men to remove the vests, and they refused.

The poster said she received several threats regarding her post.

“People thought I was going after the Hells Angels," the poster told The Times. "No, the Hells Angels does a lot of good and commendable things. … I have friends that are bikers, and I love them dearly. It’s not that I have anything against bikers.”

Friday, November 23, 2018

Bandidos MC Members stopped by roadblocks

Melbourne, AU  (November 23, 2018) BTN —  Bandidos motorcycle club members from across the country have converged on Melbourne for the club's national run. A club insider said up to 500 bikes will roar through the city as part of the annual run, which left Bendigo on Friday morning for an all weekend party in Melbourne's south-east.

 Bandidos MC members set off to Melbourne

One associate described the run as the club's very own Christmas party. "This is what we do. It's the brotherhood," he said. The run, which involves the club's major figureheads including president Jason Addison, is being closely monitored by police.

"[We] will take swift action to detect and disrupt any outlaw motorcycle gang (OMCGs) members who commit crimes, road safety or public order offences," a Victoria police spokeswoman said.

Bandidos MC members leaving a service station on the Calder Freeway on Friday

"We are always gathering intelligence with regards to the activities of persons engaged in criminal activity, including those persons who may also be associated with OMCGs. "Our monitoring of OMCGs permits us to respond in an appropriate fashion if and when any risk of violence is anticipated.

The club, which was formed in the US, established itself in Australia in 1983 after a group split from another club, the Comancheros. That split lead to the notorious Milperra massacre, where the two clubs clashed in a shootout that left seven people dead, including a 14-year-old girl, the Bandidos' vice-president, the Comancheros' vice-president and serjeant-at-arms.

While a Bandidos associate said the wider community has a misconception that the club is made up of criminals, authorities say they are a well-organised gang that causes harm across the country.


Thursday, November 22, 2018

Throwbacks Continued: Chopper Motorcycle

Open primary chopped Harley-Davidson Motorcycle, Bates headlight and girder front end  

Feds attempt to seize Mongols MC trademarked logo

Los Angeles, CA  (November 21, 2018) BTN —  For many years, federal law enforcement authorities have been trying to take down the Mongols, a motorcycle club they consider one of the most dangerous criminal enterprises in the country.

They have infiltrated it with undercover agents. They have hammered members with charges ranging from drug dealing to money laundering to murder. They have conducted mass arrests that resulted in dozens of guilty pleas, including one by a past president.

But after a decade of trying, they have failed to deliver what they view as the coup de grâce: seizing control of the Mongols’ trademarked logo, a drawing of a brawny Genghis Khan-like figure sporting a queue and sunglasses, riding a chopper while brandishing a sword.

Federal prosecutors want to seize the rights to the logo of the Mongols Motorcycle Club

Now, in a racketeering trial underway in Orange County, Calif., federal prosecutors believe they have their best chance yet to take the Mongols’ intellectual property, using a novel approach to asset forfeiture law, which allows the seizure of goods used in the commission of crimes.

Prosecutors argue that taking the logo will deprive the group of its “unifying symbol” — the banner under which prosecutors say the group marauds.

If federal prosecutors have their way, one of them boasted at an earlier point in the court battle, the police could stop any Mongol and “literally take the jacket right off his back.”

But legal experts question the prosecutors’ grasp of intellectual property law. “Trademark rights are not tangible personal property like a jacket. They are intangible rights,” said Evan Gourvitz, an intellectual property lawyer with the law firm Ropes & Gray in New York. “But prosecutors are treating a trademark like a jacket.”

The Mongols are equally mystified. The logo — also called a patch — is emblazoned on the vests, T-shirts and motorcycles of hundreds of members. “Lots of brothers have tattoos of the marks on their necks and heads and everywhere,” David Santillan, the national president of the club, said. “How do you regulate that?”

For bikers, the patch is key to belonging and the optics of appearing tough, and members can spend months or even years proving themselves before they earn the right to wear it.

“The patch is like the American flag to these guys and speaks to the identity of the club, the individual and the culture,” said William Dulaney, a retired associate professor who is an expert on motorcycle groups. “Some clubs have the rule that if the colors even touch the ground, they have to be destroyed.”

Mongols MC trial in California 

The Mongols’ marks, like those of other biker groups, are registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Clubs have aggressively protected their patches from unauthorized use.

The Hells Angels have gone after large corporations including Toys “R” Us, the Alexander McQueen fashion line, Amazon, Saks, and Walt Disney, accusing them of infringement on its death’s head logo — a skull in a winged helmet — and other club symbols. They have usually been successful, reaching settlements that require defendants to cease using the trademarks and to recall and destroy merchandise, among other concessions.

The Mongols have had their share of run-ins with the law. The group was founded in Montebello, Calif., in 1969 and has about 1,000 members in the United States, most of whom are Hispanic. About half of the club’s membership is in California, though Mr. Santillan said 11 new chapters were recently established in Texas.

In 2012 Christopher Ablett, a suspected member of the Modesto, Calif., chapter, was sentenced to life in prison for the 2008 murder of the president of the San Francisco chapter of the Hells Angels, Mark Guardado. In 2014 David Martinez, a Mongols member in San Gabriel, Calif., was charged with murder in the shooting death of a Pomona police officer.

Five months ago, 21 members and associates of the Mongols chapter in Clarksville, Tenn., were charged with a host of crimes including racketeering conspiracy, murder, kidnapping and robbery. The Mongols say that they are not a criminal operation and that such crimes were largely the work of rogue members who are no longer in the organization. They further contend that some violent acts were committed in self-defense or in defense of others. Mongols, they say, are simply part of a brotherhood who are exercising their constitutional rights by wearing the patch.

“This is a case of guilt by association, an attempt to put the liability on all members,” said Joseph A. Yanny, the Mongols’ lead lawyer. “This is one of the most absurd cases I have seen the government pursue.”

But prosecutors argue that the patch is the flag under which Mongols carry out unlawful acts and intimidate the public.

“The government will show that the marks served as unifying symbols of an enterprise dedicated to intimidating and terrorizing everyone who is not a member,” they wrote in a court filing, “and assaulting and killing those who have sworn their loyalty to other outlaw motorcycle gangs.” A spokesman for the United States attorney’s office for the Central District of California said he could not comment on the case.

The quest to gain control of the Mongols’ colors began in 2008, when the tactic was suggested by members of the prosecution team at the United States attorney’s office, said Thomas P. O’Brien, who led the office at the time. “We were looking for a way to have real impact and we knew this was going to be a test case,” he said.

David Santillan, Mongols’ National President  CreditJenna Schoenefeld for The New York Times

The pursuit of the patch was part of a criminal indictment against 79 Mongols that ultimately resulted in 77 guilty pleas. Over the years, the trademark part of the case has been punctuated by conflicting interpretations of intellectual property law, judges overruling their own orders and confusion over who even owns the rights to the logo.

“Justice is often a long and bumpy road and this case has been particularly long and bumpy,” Mr. O’Brien acknowledged. During an early stretch of the case, Judge Florence-Marie Cooper of Federal District Court in Los Angeles granted a sweeping order that authorized the seizure of  “products, clothing, vehicles, motorcycles, books, posters, merchandise, stationery, or other materials bearing the Mongols trademark” from members, their relatives and any associates.

In response, some members defiantly flaunted the marks while others wore alternative Mongols logos. After further litigation, Judge Cooper would then rule that the Mongols’ marks were not subject to confiscation. In 2009, Ramon Rivera, a Mongols member who had not been charged with a crime, filed a lawsuit with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Mr. Rivera argued that his First Amendment and due process rights had been violated by the order, and asked that law enforcement authorities be blocked from confiscating his property. He ultimately prevailed and was awarded $252,466 in lawyers’ fees. In 2010, another federal judge, Otis Wright, preliminarily forfeited the logo to the government after the lead defendant and former club president, Ruben Cavazos, reached a plea deal with prosecutors.

But the Mongols argued that the club, not Mr. Cavazos, owned the rights to the images. Judge Wright sided with the Mongols, “regrettably” concluding that the marks were not forfeitable since they belonged to the organization.

In a somewhat similar case in Michigan, prosecutors withdrew their bid for the Devils Diciples trademark after six members were convicted at trial for firearms offenses, drug trafficking, illegal gambling and other crimes. The individual who owned the trademark, prosecutors had discovered, was not among the defendants.

In a 2016 letter to one of the prosecutors, Fritz Clapp, a lawyer for the Diciples, said that if the government gained ownership of the trademark, it would face a quandary because owners must periodically demonstrate that the mark is still in active use for the purpose registered.

“Unless the government were to use the collective membership mark to operate a motorcycle club, then it could not satisfy the requirement,” Mr. Clapp wrote. “Trademarks, unlike copyrights and patents, have no enduring value apart from their use.”

But in Los Angeles, prosecutors did not give up. In 2013, they came back with a new indictment, this time against Mongol Nation, for many of the same racketeering offenses as were in the 2008 indictments, plus some newer ones. Again, they asked for the forfeiture of the trademarks. The trial is expected to continue for several more weeks.

The Mongols are watching closely, saying they know theirs is a test case. “They take our patch,” Mr. Santillan, the president, said. “And then they take all the clubs’ patches.”

By Serge F. Kovaleski

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Pagan MC member files lawsuit against City and Police

Pittsburgh, PA  (November 21, 2018) BTN —  A member of the Pagans motorcycle club who was injured in a bar fight with undercover Pittsburgh police officers last month has sued the city and the officers on excessive force and false imprisonment grounds.

Photo: Frank DeLuca after drunk cops beat him in Kopy's Bar

Frank DeLuca, 38, and his lawyer, James DePasquale, say in their federal complaint that the officers were drunk and aggressive in provoking the brawl at Kopy’s Bar on the South Side on Oct. 12. Mr. DeLuca, of Greenfield, is the man seen being punched repeatedly in the head in a video of the incident.

In the suit, he says he suffered head and face trauma and a dislocated elbow, among other injuries.
The suit names detectives Brian Burgunder, David Honick and David Lincoln as well as the city of Pittsburgh and claims they violated his civil rights by beating him and then accusing him of assault. Police had charged Mr. DeLuca and three other Pagans after the fight but the Allegheny County district attorney’s office dropped the charges. The U.S. attorney’s office and the FBI are examining the case for potential civil rights violations against the officers.

Mr. DeLuca said in the suit that the three plainclothes officers plus a fourth, Brian Martin, who is not a defendant, came into the bar at 7:30 p.m. and drank “copiously” all night. By 11:30, they were all drunk, the suit says. Mr. DeLuca and five friends came in at 11:41 and went to the rear to play pool. He said the officers became “fixated and agitated” towards him and his companions. He said Detective Honick was especially drunk. Mr. DeLuca said he didn’t know the men were policemen and thought they were what they “appeared” to be: “Four drunks in a saloon who were becoming obnoxious in demeanor for no reason other than their visible intoxication.”

The suit says the officers began to point at the men and told the bartender they shouldn’t be allowed in the bar. The officers told the bartender they were on-duty police officers and that the situation with the Pagans was “dangerous,” but they didn’t tell Mr. DeLuca or his friends they were officers, according to the suit.
Mr. DeLuca said two of his friends left, but the situation escalated when the officers positioned themselves between the men and the exit.

The suit says the officers began to “intimidate” the bikers, with Detective Honick repeatedly showing a gun in his waistband and gripping the handle. At 12:40 a.m., Mr. DeLuca pushed Detective Honick because of the “intimidation” he felt and the fact that the officers were blocking the exit, the suit says. The brawl then erupted, which the suit labels a “police riot.”

Mr. DeLuca said Detective Burgunder held him by his hair and arms while Detectives Honick and Lincoln punched him and a uniformed officer who came to assist sprayed him with pepper spray. After the fight, he said, he and his friends were arrested on assault charges and jailed. Mr. DeLuca is seeking compensatory damages for his injuries, punitive damages against the officers and other costs.

A spokesperson for both the city of Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh police declined a request for comment.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Hells Angels MC member targeted for murder

Surrey, B.C. (November 20, 2018) BTN —  A man described by homicide investigators as a member of the Hells Angels has been identified as the victim of a suspected targeted slaying in Metro Vancouver.

Cpl. Frank Jang of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team says the body of 43-year-old Chad Wilson was found Sunday morning in Maple Ridge, where he was living.

Jang says Wilson was a member of the Hells Angels and describes the killing of a member of the biker-club as “unsettling news.”

He says detectives will be working with gang enforcement experts to avoid any retaliation.

Wilson had a previous criminal conviction in the United States stemming from a shooting in South Dakota in 2006 that injured five affiliate members of a rival motorcycle club and Jang says officers are looking into his past.

Police are also appealing to Wilson’s friends in the Hells Angels to come forward.

Jang said Tuesday that members of the Hells Angels may have “intimate knowledge” of what happened and he urged them to speak to officers, regardless of their current involvement in criminal activity.

“We will go to wherever you are, we will sit down and speak with you and we will treat you with the utmost respect. We want to solve your friend’s — your associate’s — murder as much as you do,” Jang told a news conference in Surrey.

The cause of Wilson’s death has not been released but Jang says the homicide team is working with Ridge Meadows RCMP, forensic specialists, the BC Coroners Service and gang enforcement units from across Metro Vancouver.

Wilson’s body was found near the banks of the Fraser River under the Golden Ears Bridge.

In November 2008, Wilson and a co-accused were acquitted by a jury in South Dakota of attempted murder for a 2006 gunfight that injured members of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club.

Five people were hurt in an exchange of gunfire. Wilson told his trial that he fired in self-defence after the Outlaws started shooting.

Following his acquittal, Wilson was subsequently convicted by the same South Dakota court of being a non-immigrant alien in possession of a firearm and sentenced to four years in prison.

SOURCE: The Province

FBI investigating Pagans MC bar fight

Pittsburgh, PA (November 20, 2018) BTN — The district attorney of Allegheny County has questions about several undercover Pittsburgh police officers who got in a drunken brawl while on the job. Last week, Stephen Zappala decided to withdraw all criminal charges against the members of the Pagan Motorcycle Club.

Bar fight scene at Kopy's Bar

The fight, which was caught on surveillance video on Oct. 12 at Kopy’s Bar, involved members of the Pagan Motorcycle Club and undercover officers.

Related | Charges dropped against Pagans MC members in  bar fight
Related | Pagans MC: The cops were drunk and started the fight

The Federal Bureau of Investigation along with the Citizens Police Review Board are  investigating the incident. "We had a lot of questions and not a lot of answers. I don't think they committed a crime," Zappala said.The cops that were involved are still on duty.


Monday, November 19, 2018

Cop's claim their winning the war on Bikies

Queensland, Australia (November 19, 2018) BTN — Police claim they are winning the war on bikies, but they admit the motorcycle clubs will never be completely defeated. As the second anniversary of the Labor Government’s revamped anti-gang laws looms, the state’s bikie-busting top cop says bikie bosses are handing in their colours and fleeing the state.

A member of the Mongols MC stands with his motorcycle

Detective Superintendent Roger Lowe revealed police were providing protection for bikies wanting to leave violent gangs. “Patched” gang membership across the state has plummeted from 1158 in 2013, when the Newman Government ushered in the controversial VLAD laws in response to the infamous Broadbeach bikie brawl, to about 700 now. Supt Lowe, who heads the Organised Crime Gangs Group, says police are using the new legislation to score significant victories in the ongoing battle with bikies involved in violence and drug trafficking. Hundreds of bikies have been charged or hit with criminal consorting notices which could see them jailed for three years. Ten have been charged with habitual consorting.

Taskforce Maxima boss Supt Roger Lowe

More than 50 gang members have been charged with participating in a criminal organisation, which carries a mandatory seven-year jail term. Supt Lowe said police were using the anti-consorting laws to launch pre-emptive strikes against the gangs, while the ban on bikies wearing colours had taken away one of their main lifestyle lures – the ability to flaunt gang membership and intimidate the public.

More than 30 bikies have been charged with wearing gang paraphernalia in public. “The fact that they can’t ride (as patched bikies), they can’t have clubhouses and can’t wear their colours is a significant victory for the community,” Supt Lowe said. “There’s not that overt presence any longer that causes fear and concern to the public. “They can’t be in licensed premises or standing out the front causing fear and intimidation.” Supt Lowe said raids targeting the Rebels bikie gang in Mount Isa earlier this year had led to the club president handing in his colours and leaving town.

Not even jailed bikies are escaping attention, with a Mongols member recently charged with trying to recruit new members behind bars. “(Bikies) still exist in Queensland, I don’t think they’ll ever go away,” Supt Lowe conceded. “But our absolute main objective is limiting their ability to expand and be involved in serious and organised crime ... we’ve made some terrific inroads.”

 SOURCE: The Courier Mail

Hells Angel MC member found dead under bridge

Vancouver, British Columbia (November 19, 2018) BTN —  A full-patch Hells Angel MC member with the Hellside Chapter was found murdered under the Golden Ears Bridge Sunday.

Chad Wilson, a former Hells Angel in San Diego, then Haney, joined the clubs’s newest chapter when it formed last year. Some of his buddies had reported him missing the night before his body was found in the 20000-block of Wharf Street, Postmedia has learned.

Hardside chapter of the Hells Angels, From left, Chad Wilson (formerly of the Haney chapter); Suminder Grewal (formerly of the Haney chapter); and Jamie Yochlowitz (formerly of the Vancouver chapter)

Firefighters were first called to the scene about 11:30 a.m. Sunday. They immediately called in the Mounties when they found Wilson’s body.

Friends of Wilson’s, wearing their death head patched Hells Angels vests, soon showed up at the scene.
The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team is working with Ridge Meadows RCMP on the case.

Wilson’s name had not yet been released by police, but fellow bikers and family were already paying tribute to the dead 43-year-old on Sunday night. Wilson was a high-profile and popular member of the Hells Angels and his murder is expected to increase the volatility in the Lower Mainland motorcycle club landscape.

Police are saying only that Wilson’s death was targeted and that he was known to police.

In fact, he was known to police in several parts of the world.

In 2013, Wilson was charged in Spain with B.C. Hells Angel Jason Arkinstall and two associates after police there seized half a tonne of cocaine from a sailboat that had arrived from Colombia.

The Spanish government said one of the B.C. bikers was on the vessel, while the others were waiting in Spain. They were arrested in a restaurant in Pontevedra, a port in the northwest of Spain.

Officials said the drug conspiracy was linked to a member of the San Diego chapter of the Hells Angels – the same chapter that Wilson had joined as a prospect on Jan. 28, 2005. Wilson became a full-patch Hells Angel a year later on Jan. 28, 2006.

Within a few months he was sitting in a jail cell in South Dakota, charged along with fellow HA member John Midmore, with attempted murder for an Aug. 8, 2006 gunfight with members of the rival Outlaws biker club.

Several bikers and passersby were struck. One Outlaw was paralyzed by Wilson.

But both he and Midmore claimed self-defence and were later acquitted.

Video on the Hells Angels put out by the Vancouver Sun

Wilson, however, pleaded guilty in April 2009 of being an alien in possession of a firearm. He was sentenced to four years in jail.

In his letter to the judge, Wilson claimed that he would have been killed if he had not shot at the Outlaws when he did.

“To have to go through this nightmare I have been through for the past 983 days…to have people people think I am somehow at fault for the extreme injuries that not just Mr. Neale, but others suffered as well – psychological and physical – that is just outright wrong to do to me,” Wilson complained. “Don’t think for one second that I don’t live with the nightmare in my head.”

He said he had replayed the events that led to the shootout “over and over again in my head.”

“I come up with the same answer every time. If I did not have a gun that day – Auig. 8, 2006 – and I did not shoot back, I would be DEAD!!” he said. “This situation was 100% out of my control. I have the right to defend myself. I want to go home. I have everything great waiting for me, my drilling job, my kids, my wife and my dog and the number one thing, my LIFE!!”

He said being in jail is “true hell that I’ve been through.”

SOURCE: Vancouver Sun

Sunday, November 18, 2018


What happens when you go to sleep at a party

BREAKING: Hells Angels MC on scene after body found under bridge

Vancouver, British Columbia (November 18, 2018) BTN —Police are on scene after a body was discovered beneath the Golden Ears Bridge in Maple Ridge Sunday. The discovery was made just before 11:30 a.m. at Wharf Street and Hazelwood Street.

Police and Firefighters on scene 

RCMP and firefighters have responded and several men wearing Hells Angels insignia are on scene.

Body found beneath the Golden Ears Bridge in #MapleRidge
Posted by The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News on Sunday, November 18, 2018

More to follow: Surrey Now Reader

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Police raid locations targeting motorcycle club members

Montreal, Canada (November 16, 2018) BTN — An anti-drug operation involving five police forces and targeting a motorcycle club linked to the Hells Angels MC saw 14 arrests and as many raids carried out Thursday as part of an investigation sparked by a string of fentanyl overdose deaths in 2017.

Officers from Quebec City, Granby and Laval are also involved in the operation.

Montreal police say there were 12 raids carried out in Montreal, including at a car parts shop on Henri-Bourassa Blvd. E. in Montréal-Est, while two sites were raided in Laval. The focus of the raids was the Minotaures West-Montreal, a motorcycle club affiliated with the Hells Angels that was formed last year.

Members of the support club are alleged to have headed a network that trafficked in cocaine and heroin even though the Hells Angels MC worldwide have a long-established internal rule that states: “All contact or use of heroin is strictly forbidden.”
Police officers seized 50 pounds of marijuana, 11 kilograms of cocaine, 75 grams of heroin and roughly 600,000 methamphetamine pills. They also seized an AK47 assault rifle, seven other types of firearms, $122,460 in cash as well as clothing and other items bearing the Minotaures MC logo, the horned head of the beast from Greek mythology.

According to a release issued by the Montreal police, the 14 arrests made on Thursday were part of a long investigation through which 20 other people have already been charged in the past. 

The people arrested on Thursday are expected to appear in court on Friday.
Officers from Quebec City, Granby and Laval are also involved in the operation.

SOURCE: Montreal Gazette 

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Devils Diciples MC: Michigan members sentenced to prison

Detroit, MI (November 15, 2018) BTN— The former national president of the Devils Diciples Motorcycle Club, Jeff Garvin Smith, aka “Fat Dog,” was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison.

According to court documents, Smith, 64, of Mount Clemens, was convicted along with the national vice president and national warlord, and three others, for their participation in various criminal acts, including RICO, violent crimes in aid of racketeering, methamphetamine production and trafficking, illegal firearms offenses, obstruction of justice, subornation of perjury and other federal offenses.

“The life sentence imposed on this defendant is a clear indication of the seriousness of the violence he engaged in and how committed the law enforcement community is to stop this kind of organized violence,” said Special Agent in Charge Timothy R. Slater, Detroit Division of the FBI.

“The FBI, our state and local partners and the U.S. Attorney’s offices across the region will not rest until all who would harm the peace and safety of our residents are brought to justice, regardless of where those threats originate."

Awaiting sentencing are four remaining defendants, three from Michigan, who were found guilty by a jury of engaging in a RICO conspiracy, methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy, conspiracy to obstruct justice, violent crimes in aid of racketeering and various substantive charges.

Those individuals include National Vice President Paul Anthony Darrah, of Macomb Township, Victor Castano, of St. Clair Shores, and David Randy Drozdowski, of Fair Haven, Michigan.

Drozdowski was separately found guilty by a jury of committing violent crimes in aid of racketeering and being a felon in possession of ammunition, while Castano was separately found guilty of obstruction of justice and subornation of perjury.

According to evidence presented at these trials, the Devils Diciples (which is intentionally misspelled) is a motorcycle club with its national headquarters in Clinton Township. For decades, the Devils Diciples operated regional chapters in cities throughout Michigan, Alabama, Arizona, California, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, and engaged in criminal activities to protect the enterprise and for financial gain.

Prosecutors said members are required to own Harley-Davidson motorcycles and are required to follow orders from the clubs’s leadership, including orders to assault, threaten and intimidate others, to transport and distribute drugs, to lie to law enforcement and to hide or destroy evidence.

According to evidence presented at trial, Smith and Darrah were responsible for overall management of the activities of the other Devils Diciples members and chapters, including giving final approval to any activity generally affecting the club as a whole and a individuals, including members and associates of the club, were beaten and robbed, and Smith also participated in this activity directly.

In addition to the four trial defendants sentenced recently, over 50 members and associates of the Devil’s Diciples have pleaded guilty to various crimes as result of this investigation. The investigation further resulted in the seizure of more than 60 firearms and more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition and the dismantling of eight methamphetamine manufacturing laboratories across the country.

The case was investigated by the FBI, the Michigan State Police, the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office and the County of Macomb Enforcement Team, with assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office.