Thursday, February 28, 2019

Mongols Motorcycle Club wins court case

Santa Ana, California, USA (February 28, 2019) BTN — A federal judge has rejected the U.S. government’s unprecedented efforts to gain control of the prized patches that adorn the vests worn by the Mongols motorcycle club, ruling that prosecutors attempts to seize the organization’s trademarks are unconstitutional.

The written ruling, released Thursday morning by U.S. District Judge David O. Carter, marks a setback for federal prosecutors who two months ago persuaded a Santa Ana jury to find the Southern California-based club guilty of racketeering. Attorneys for the Mongols described the ruling as a victory for all motorcycle clubs.

At the center of the legal battle was control of the patches that depict the club’s name and an illustration of a ponytailed, Ghengis Khan-type motorcycle rider wearing sunglasses. “The Mongols motorcycle club was able to defend the First Amendment for themselves and all motorcycle clubs,” said Stephen Stubbs, an attorney for the Mongols.

Related | Mongols MC lose federal case against patch 
Related | Jury ready to decide Mongols MC fate over patch
The U.S. Attorney’s Office did not immediately comment on the ruling. Carter’s ruling is unlikely to stand as the final word in a case that has drawn national attention. The first-of-its-kind effort to convict the Mongols organization, rather than specific members, of racketeering in order to strip members of their well-known insignia is almost certain to make its way before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and possibly to the U.S. Supreme Court. Carter upheld the racketeering conviction and tentatively agreed that the government can keep seized guns and ammunition from the Mongols.

But he ruled that efforts to take control of the Mongols’ insignia and patches violates the First Amendment’s freedom of speech and association protections and the Eighth Amendment’s protection against excessive fines. “Not everything repugnant is unconstitutional,” Carter said. “And what does the government plan to do with the tattoos of the (Mongols’ insignia and patch) on members’ backs, arms and other body parts? …

That certain individual members of the Mongol Nation displayed the symbols while committing violent crimes or were rewarded with other patches for the commission of crimes does not justify the government’s attempts to bootstrap a conviction of the motorcycle club into censorship of uncharged members or supporters.”

Attorneys for the Mongols have described the patches that adorn members’ leather “cuts” as the organization’s “Holy Grail,” and they have said that the government taking control of them would mark a “death penalty” for the group. “I’m happy that this is not a death sentence here,” said Attorney Joseph Yanny, who represented the Mongols in the racketeering trial. “But I don’t like the fact the club has been labeled a criminal organization.”

Prosecutors have argued that taking the Mongols’ trademark is the only way to stop the “cycle of crime” committed by club members. The Mongols have countered that the crimes were committed by “bad apples” who are no longer involved in the club. In December, jurors agreed that the Mongols organization engaged in drug trafficking, vicious assaults and murder.

Much of the violence – which included attacks, some fatal, in bars and restaurants in Hollywood, Pasadena, Merced, La Mirada, Wilmington and Riverside – was tied to a decades-long rivalry between the Mongols and the Hells Angels motorcycle club. Carter noted that the government has spent more than a decade attempting to take control of the Mongols’ trademark, at one point claiming it wanted to be able to stop members of the club and literally take their jackets off of their backs. “The government is not merely seeking a forfeiture of the ship’s sails,” Carter wrote. “In this prosecution, the United States is attempting to use (racketeering laws) to change the meaning of the ship’s flag.”

The Mongols, one of the nation’s largest motorcycle clubs, was formed in Montebello in the 1970s, and is now based in West Covina. Among those who testified on behalf of the club during the recent racketeering trial was Jesse Ventura, a former Minnesota governor and retired pro wrestler who joined the group in 1973 while still on active duty in the U.S. Navy.

The case stemmed from Operation Black Rain, a multi-agency investigation that involved several law enforcement agents infiltrating the Mongols. A separate, earlier case against specific Mongols members resulted in 77 people pleading guilty to racketeering-related charges.

SOURCE: Los Angeles Times

Undercover cops not charged in Pagan's beating

Pittsburgh, PA (February 27, 2019) BTN — The U.S. Attorney’s Office on Wednesday announced it will not file charges against the undercover Pittsburgh police officers involved in a brawl with members of the Pagan's motorcycle club at a South Side bar last year.

The FBI was investigating whether there were any civil rights violations by the officers. “Upon review of the FBI investigation into the incident, the United States Attorney’s Office determined there is no basis for charging any individual with a federal crime,” a statement from the office for the Western District of Pennsylvania said. The brawl happened early Oct. 12 at Kopy’s Bar and ended with four members of the Pagan's motorcycle club in jail.

The Biker Trash Network as been covering this story from the start. 

Timeline stories below

Related Undercover cops drinks bought by city
Related Pagans MC: Another member sues city officials
Related | Pagan MC member files lawsuit against City and Police
The District Attorney’s Office withdrew all charges against the members of the motorcycle club and held off investigating the officers until federal authorities concluded their investigation. The city’s Office of Municipal Investigations and the Citizens Police Review Board are also investigating. Beth Pittinger, who heads the Pittsburgh Citizen Police Review Board, said the board put its investigation on hold pending the outcome of the federal inquiry.

The board will now “aggressively” pursue its investigation, Pittinger said Wednesday. She was stunned by the decision by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. “I’m sure there is more to learn about, but my initial response is that it should concern everyone of us,” Pittinger said, adding that she felt the officers involved weren’t justified to use force against the members of the motorcycle club. “The officers escalated that situation. They initiated it and escalated it.” The city’s Office of Municipal Investigations is continuing its investigation.

Pittsburgh Department of Public Safety had no comment on the decision by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Spokesman Chris Togneri said an internal investigation continues and the department won’t discuss ongoing investigations. The decision by the U.S. Attorney’s Office comes a day after a federal civil lawsuit was filed against the city, the four officers involved and the police union on behalf of Michael Zokaites. Zokaites’ lawsuit, filed by attorney Wendy Williams, essentially calls the police an organized crime enterprise and alleges the city and the officers violated the RICO Act — a federal law meant to target organized crime participants.

Two of the other three men involved in the brawl have also filed lawsuits.

SOURCE: Trib Live

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Pagan's MC dope supplier found guilty

Daytona Beach,FL,USA (February 27, 2019) BTN — A federal jury has found a Key West man guilty of conspiring with members of the Pagan’s Motorcycle Club to deliver methamphetamine to the club members in Daytona Beach and his hometown.

 The verdict in the trial of Keith Kirchoff, 41, came Tuesday and now he faces a maximum of life in prison for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, according to a statement released Wednesday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

A sentencing date has not been set. Kirchoff, who was indicted on Aug. 9, is the 19th person to be found guilty as a result of a joint FBI and DEA investigation into drug-trafficking organizations that supplied motorcycle clubs with methamphetamine in the Central Florida area, the release said.

Members of the Pagan’s Motorcycle Club were among people who have already pleaded guilty to charges of distributing methamphetamine.

Related | Two Pagan's MC members plead guilty

The Pagan’s members were identified in an earlier release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office as Michael “Clutch” Andrews, 33, of Palm Coast and Brian “Sledge” Burt, 47, of Port Orange. Andrew “Yeti” Shettler, 33, of Palm Coast, was also indicted and identified as a member of the Thunderguards Motorcycle Club, which is affiliated with the Pagan’s, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

 According to testimony presented at Kirchoff’s trial, he conspired in March 2018 with Pagan’s members to deliver “ounce quantities of methamphetamine” to Pagan’s members. On March 21, 2018, the Florida Highway Patrol stopped a vehicle being driven by Kirchoff and found nearly 10 ounces of methamphetamine and a loaded firearm.

 Kirchoff is not a member of the Pagan’s or other motorcycle clubs, said William Daniels, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The case was investigated by the FBI, the DEA, the Florida Highway Patrol, the Volusia Bureau of Investigation, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office and the Daytona Beach Police Department.

SOURCE: Daytona Beach News Journal

Monday, February 25, 2019

More cases dismissed in Waco biker massacre

Waco, Texas, USA (February 25, 2019) BTN — One of four Houston attorneys assigned to handle four Twin Peaks biker cases as special prosecutors dismissed the remaining three cases Monday and called the way the McLennan County District Attorney's Office handled the 2015 deadly shootout a "harebrained scheme" that was "patently offensive" to him.

Scene of the Twin Peaks biker massacre

Special prosecutors Brian Roberts, Brian Benken, Feroz Merchant and Mandy Miller filed motions Monday to dismiss the first-degree felony engaging in organized criminal activity charges against bikers William Chance Aikin, Billy McCree and Ray Nelson. The motions to dismiss said, "Upon reviewing all the facts, circumstances and evidence, it is the state's position that no probable cause exists to believe the defendant committed the offense."

Related | Governor wants new anti-gang center for Waco
The team of special prosecutors dismissed the case against Hewitt resident Matthew Clendennen in April 2018. "I think, unfortunately, — and this is probably a poor choice of words — but it was simply a shoot-first-ask-questions-later mentality," Roberts said. "I can't imagine what (former McLennan County DA) Abel Reyna was thinking other than this was a big case and it was somehow going to be beneficial for him or his office."

Roberts, a former prosecutor who served in the special crimes bureau of the Harris County District Attorney's Office, said he had no problem with the first part of the process, which was to round up more than 200 bikers, identify and photograph them. He said the process was necessary to try to see who was involved and who were merely witnesses. "I do have a very serious problem as a lawyer with the wholesale charging of people without an investigation," he said. "They had plenty of time to conduct an investigation. They had plenty of time to do what they needed to do to find out who the parties needed to be in this harebrained scheme. It is just patently offensive to me.

"Justice is the sword and the shield. You had a number of folks who never should have been charged and whose lives have been turned upside down unnecessarily, and that is something you can't change. You can't take back what has happened over the last four years." 

In the months after his defeat in the March 2018 Republican primary, Reyna dismissed the vast majority of the 154 pending indictments his office sought in the Twin Peaks shootout, which left nine dead and 20 injured. Reyna's office re-indicted 25 Twin Peaks defendants on different charges in May, with most being charged with riot and three being charged with murder and riot. District Attorney Barry Johnson, who took office in January, has said he and his staff are reviewing those cases to determine how to proceed.

Houston attorney Paul Looney, who represents Ray Nelson, said he agrees with Roberts. "What Brian said is long overdue. The defense bar has been saying the same thing for nearly four years. This gives a lot of credibility to what we have been saying, and I am very appreciative of them to go through all of the evidence thoroughly and to have the courage of their convictions when it came time to announce it. These people deserve vindication. It is long overdue. They have been treated horribly."

Roberts, who made it clear that he was speaking only about the four cases he and the others were appointed to handle, said that prosecutors bear a greater responsibility to ensure that justice is done. "Whatever justice means. Whether that means pursuing a prosecution, whether that means reducing a case, whether than means getting rid of a case, whether than means never charging a case," Robert said. "A prosecutor's job is not to put people in prison. It is to do justice. I don't think anybody can say that was done here back in 2015."

SOURCE: Waco Tribune-Herald

Mongols MC member suspected in freeway shooting

El Monte, California (February 24, 2019) BTN — A motorcyclist was shot and wounded Saturday on the 10 Freeway in El Monte by a suspected member of the Mongols Motorcycle Club, authorities said. Two motorcyclists were riding just east of the 605 Freeway at around 1 p.m. when they were surrounded by four to six riders who likely belong to the Mongols Motorcycle Club, according to the California Highway Patrol.

An alleged Mongols member then shot one of the motorcyclists, who was riding a red Honda CBR 1000, in his right thigh, the CHP said. The wounded motorcyclist exited the freeway at Garvey Avenue and called the police.

He was taken to the hospital. Authorities were still searching for the suspected shooter Sunday night. Witnesses said the man has an unknown tattoo on his forehead and a long ponytail. All westbound lanes of the 10 Freeway at Interstate 605 were closed for an hour while officers attempted to locate evidence, the CHP said. They found two .380 caliber shell casings and shards of a bullet.

The Mongols were formed in the 1970s in Montebello, it has expanded over the decades to include several hundred members in chapters across Southern California and elsewhere.


Friday, February 22, 2019

Hells Angels might sell their 3rd Street clubhouse

New York, NY (February 22, 2019) BTN — The word coming from Third Street is that the Hells Angels are selling their clubhouse (No. 77) between First Avenue and Second Avenue with a springtime move planned. According to public records, there's a Memorandum of Contract (the form preceding a contract of sale) dated this past Dec. 21 between Church of the Angels, Inc. (aka — The Church of Angels) and 77 East 3rd LLC .

The document is signed by Bartley J. Dowling, president of the NYC Hells Angels chapter, and the purchaser, Nathan Blatter of Whitestone Realty Group. Attorney Ron Kuby, who has represented the Angels in legal matters through the years, said that he was unaware of any sale. "I have heard nothing about it," he said on the phone yesterday. He also said that he doesn't handle real-estate law. At this time, it's not known where the NYC clubhouse may be relocating or what the reasons are for doing so.

The Hells Angels have had a presence in 77 E. Third St. since 1969. They eventually bought the six-floor building, which includes their clubhouse and member residences, Realtor.com lists 14 units from Birdie Ruderman in the Bronx for a reported $1,900. The deed on file with the city from November 1977 shows the then-dilapidated building changed hands for $10.

Memorandum of Contract

In 1983, chapter president Sandy Alexander took over ownership of the building. The deed from that time states that Alexander, his wife Collette and their family could live on the premises rent free. In addition, in the event that the building was sold, she would stand to receive half of the proceeds. This agreement was later the basis for a legal tussle in 2013 between the clubhouse and Alexander's family. (Sandy Alexander, who spent six years in prison for dealing cocaine, died in 2007.)

According to the Post in 2013: 

They are suing his second wife, Alison Glass Alexander, of Jamaica, Queens and his daughter from another marriage, Kimberly Alexander, of Needles, Calif. to prevent them from making a grab for the property. A source told the Post that the members have no immediate plans to sell 77 E. 3rd St. — which is on the periphery of New York University’s $6 billion expansion plan and in a once-crime ridden neighborhood where one-bedrooms now rent for $3,500 a month — but they wanted to clear up the "cloudy deed." 

Deed in 1977 shows it changed hands for just $10.00

That deed was eventually reversed in April 2018, per public documents.

The U.S. government unsuccessfully tried to seize the building starting with a drug bust in 1985. The feds charged that the clubhouse was used to make drug deals. However, a jury ruled against the forfeiture in February 1994, per The New York Times. At another time we may note more of their legal run-ins here through the years. Most recently, in late December, the Post reported that a deliveryman was allegedly sucker punched by a member when he parked his car in front of motorcycles outside the clubhouse.

And here's a portion of the 1983 documentary "Hells Angels Forever" that highlights the Third Street clubhouse at the two-minute mark.

SOURCE: New York Post
SOURCE: Ev Grieve

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Hells Angels MC members face 300 years in prison

Mallorca, Spain (February 21, 2019) BTN —  Five years after the Mallorca chapter of the Hells Angels was shut down, 46 alleged members are set to be tried and are facing a combined 300 years in prison. The suspects were arrested in connection with 16 crimes which include drug trafficking, prostitution, threats, bribery, possession of weapons, money laundering and extortion in S’Arenal and Palma.

And among the defendants are two local police officers and a Guardia Civil sergeant from Palma, who face between five and seven years each for criminal involvement and bribery. The National Police dismantled the ‘powerful criminal gang’ at the end of July 2013 in the so-called ‘Operation Casablanca’, in collaboration with the Guardia Civil. Investigations have been ongoing and the magistrate of the Central Court of Instruction, 6, of the National Court, has now announced all 46 will be brought to trial at the Criminal Chamber.

At the recent hearing, an order was made for the ‘precautionary seizure of assets, both real estate and vehicles’, together with documents and money. The magistrate also set civil liability bonds of more than €4 million for several of the money laundering suspects. The alleged European leader of the organisation, German Frank Hanebuth, could face 13 years in prison for criminal organisation, threats, money laundering and illegal possession of weapons.

Video of the Raid on July 24, 2013

His two suspected ‘lieutenants’, the Youssafi brothers, Khalil, considered the vice president of the chapter of the motorcycle club in Mallorca, who could get 38 and a half years in prison for a string of crimes. Abdelghani, believed to have acted as treasurer, faces 33 and a half years. The club reportedly settled on the island because of its location, the existence of alternative businesses, and the possibility of money laundering and drug trafficking.

SOURCE: Euro Weekly

Former Hells Angels member a free man again

Quebec, Canada (February 21, 2019) BTN — A former Hells Angel who took part in one of the most notorious crimes committed in Quebec when he and other bikers slaughtered fellow club members three decades ago is a free man again, despite having recently pleaded guilty to assaulting someone during a road-rage incident in Montreal.

Jacques Pelletier, 63, was a full-patch member of the Hells Angels in 1985 when the club decided to slaughter several members of its now-defunct Laval chapter. The club members who were killed in what became known as the Lennoxville Purge were considered unruly drug dealers whose actions affected relations with other organized crime groups, notably the leaders of Montreal’s West End Gang who supplied the gang with cocaine.

On March 24, 1985, five Laval members were shot to death after they were summoned to a Hells Angels’ clubhouse in Lennoxville, just outside Sherbrooke. Several Hells Angels were present that day and played a role in the slaughter, but only four — including Pelletier — were convicted of first-degree murder and received life sentences.

Pelletier was granted full parole in 2013, but returned behind bars a couple of times for parole violations. For example, in October 2017, he was returned to a penitentiary after police noticed his motorcycle parked outside a strip bar frequented by known criminals.

In November, he was returned to a penitentiary again following his arrest, by Montreal police, for his role in a road-rage incident during which he got into a shoving match with another driver on Oct. 18.

According to court records, the incident was considered minor by the judge who ultimately sentenced Pelletier, on Feb. 6, to pay a $1,000 fine after he pleaded guilty to one count of simple assault. But Pelletier remained behind bars because he also had to explain himself to the Parole Board of Canada for having violated his release by not keeping the peace.

On Wednesday, the parole board decided to lift the suspension of his parole after having heard Pelletier’s version of events. According to a written summary of the decision, Pelletier feels he was the victim in what transpired in October.

He told the board he was driving home from work when he stopped at a light and the driver of another vehicle got out and challenged him to a fight. The other driver apparently felt that Pelletier had cut him off. He said he tried to discuss things with the man, who grew more aggressive and ended up tearing Pelletier’s jacket. The man pulled out his cellphone and took photos of Pelletier as well as the licence plate on his car.

Pelletier called his parole officer immediately to report the incident, and a co-worker who was riding in his car later told the police that Pelletier wasn’t the instigator in the dust-up. The judge who heard Pelletier’s short trial this month at the Montreal courthouse did not believe the other driver, who claimed Pelletier had punched him. The judge found Pelletier guilty of using excessive force while he tried to take the man’s cellphone from him.

According to the parole board, Pelletier quit the Hells Angels in 1995.

SOURCE: Montreal Gazette 

Friday, February 15, 2019

Gypsy Joker MC national president released

Portland, OR (February 15, 2019) BTN – A federal judge Thursday ordered the release of Kenneth Earl Hause, the 61-year-old national president of the Gypsy Joker Motorcycle Club, who is charged in an alleged racketeering conspiracy. But U.S. District Judge Robert E. Jones placed Hause on home detention with electric monitoring and said he must resign immediately from his role as leader of the motorcycle club and not associate with any current or former Gypsy Joker members as he awaits trial.

Kenneth Earl Hause

Hause’s defense lawyer, Todd Bofferding, called his client a "man of honor'' and described him as an ailing grandfather who has the widespread support of his local community in Aumsville -- from the chief of police to waitresses in the small Marion County town of about 3,580 people. Hause also can’t get the medical care he needs in jail for his congenital heart failure, Bofferding said.

Related | Gypsy Joker MC members face charges

Though he has a past criminal record, it’s old and he hasn’t been convicted of a crime in 15 years, his lawyer said. “I don’t believe he’s now the man the government believes he is,’’ Bofferding said. Prosecutors vigorously opposed Hause’s release, contending that at his direction as the "Wiz'' or "The Boss’’ of the club, fellow Gypsy Joker kidnapped, tortured and murdered a former club member.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Mygrant called Hause the “chief enforcer of this criminal enterprise,’’ a motorcycle club he said that prides itself on being a “1 percenter’’ group of outlaws, apart from the 99 percent of motorcyclists who abide by the law. Hause has pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit racketeering.

Four co-defendants who remain in custody are accused of racketeering but also are charged in the 2015 torture and killing of former club member Robert Huggins, who was kicked out for stealing money and for his intravenous drug use, prosecutors said.

The killing was in retaliation for Huggins’ burglary and robbery at the Woodburn home of Portland’s Gypsy Joker president Mark Leroy Dencklau. Dencklau’s then-girlfriend was tied up during the robbery.

SOURCE: FOX 12 Oregon

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Hells Angels MC targeted in early morning raids

Quebec, Canada (February 14, 2019) BTN —  A total of 32 people were arrested in a series of early morning raids on Thursday targeting drug-trafficking networks in eastern Quebec and New Brunswick with alleged ties to the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club.

The raids, conducted by the Sûreté du Québec, were carried out in 20 different communities across the two provinces, including in the Lower St. Lawrence region, the Gaspé and the Magdalen Islands.

Among the objects police seized were jackets bearing Hells Angels insignia. (Sûreté du Québec)

The SQ says that, in a period of just four months, the trafficking network brought in $2.4 million, of which $250,000 was given directly to the Hells Angels as a distribution tax.

"The Hells Angels control the territory and allowed networks to sell drugs. Those networks then paid a tax based on the quantity of drugs sold," SQ spokesperson Capt. Guy Lapointe said at a news conference in Quebec City.

"The Hells Angels have a monopoly, which they maintain with a regime of fear, violence and with their colours."

Among those arrested were prominent members of the New Brunswick Hells Angels chapter, police say.

They are still searching for four other alleged participants in the network

The people who were arrested today will appear in the courthouses of the Magdalen Islands, Percé, Rimouski and Quebec City.

Among the objects police seized were:

Six kilograms of cocaine.
More than 232,000 methamphetamine tablets.
More than $640,000.
23 firearms.
Three vehicles.
Eight vests with Hells Angels insignia.

Officers from the SQ's organized crime squad and its North Shore branch were involved in the raids, she said.

The operation, launched in August 2018, is called the Oursin project. More than 150 police officers participated in the investigations.


Tuesday, February 12, 2019

False report leads to Hells Angels raid

Ghent, Belgium (February 12, 2019) BTN —  The police action in the Ghent borough Gentbrugge at the club room of motorcycle club Hells Angels came after a 44-year-old man claimed that he had heard gunshots in a quarrel in the room. Meanwhile, the man confessed that his report was false, reports the Ghent department of the parquet East Flanders.

The 44-year-old man from Ghent phoned the local police around 21.20, stating that he had heard several gunshots in the Hells Angels club room. 'According to the report, there would be a quarrel and some people would have fled the room', says press magistrate An Schoonjans of the Ghent department of the public prosecutor of East Flanders.

There were deployed heavily armed agents, a helicopter and special units (POSA). Certainly two men were taken into a police combination. The police immediately went on the spot. The club room is located on the Brusselsesteenweg in Gentbrugge, near the entrance and exit of the E17.

The traffic coming from the exit was diverted by the special assistance team of the Ghent local police. 'All persons present had to leave the room and the police conducted a search,' says Schoonjans. "Nothing suspicious was found.

The eleven persons present were taken by the police for questioning, but they were allowed to go home after the call was false. ' The police started the action on Monday at 10 pm, which lasted until 0.30 am.

The caller could be identified and arrested by the police. 'During his interrogation last night he confessed that the appeal was false and that he made up the facts', says the press magistrate.

Criminal prosecution

The forty is no stranger to police and justice. He will be prosecuted, says the prosecutor. Should the case come to court, the Hells Angels might claim damages. But it will probably not come that far.

In 2016 there was a shooting at the club room, but the shooter was not found.


Monday, February 11, 2019

Bandidos MC publicly deny drug bust involvement

Melbourne, Australia  (February 11, 2019) BTN —  Two men faced court over a major $1.3 billion drug bust linked to a Mexican cartel as the Bandidos bikie club made an extraordinary statement condemning meth trafficking.

Federal police revealed on Friday that they had intercepted 1.7 tonnes of methamphetamine bound for Australia – the largest meth seizure ever recorded on US soil and the biggest intercepted drug haul bound for Australia. Police said the record haul demonstrated a clear link between local outlaw bikie clubs and extremely sophisticated Mexican drug cartels.

Bandidos MC Clubhouse in Melbourne

But the Bandidos motorcycle club released an unusual statement on Monday, hotly denying having any link to the major haul. The drugs were "artfully concealed" inside a shipment of loudspeakers on a ship in Los Angeles, US authorities said.

Van Dung Le, 31, and Chi Cuong Vu, 25, faced Melbourne Magistrates Court after being extradited from Sydney last week.

Mr Vu, who appeared in court wearing a grey T-shirt with the word "obey" on the front, is charged with attempting to import a commercial quantity of methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin between October 28 last year and January 23. Mr Le, from the Sydney suburb of Hinchinbrook, is accused of importing methamphetamine to the Victorian town of Donnybrook as recently as last week.

Australian Federal Police display some of the drugs that were seized

He is charged with importing drugs since October last year.

Mr Vu, from Sydney's Bonnyrigg Heights, and Mr Le were remanded in custody.

The court heard Mr Le was withdrawing from cocaine.

Their appearances came after American nationals Nasser Abo Abdo, 52, and Leonor Fajardo, 46, who were both living in the Victorian town of Woodstock, faced court last Friday alongside 31-year-old Tuan Ngoc Tran, of Keilor Downs.

The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald revealed Mr Abo Abdo, 52, had been a prominent figure in the audio equipment industry in California and ran a series of companies selling stereos, speakers, subwoofers and digital amplifiers.

The Alphasonik-branded audio equipment case used to smuggle the methamphetamines

Photos distributed by police showed the intercepted drugs were hidden inside boxes carrying the names Audiobahn and Alphasonik, two of the speaker companies operated by Mr Abo Abdo.

US court records show that Mr Abo Abdo filed for bankruptcy in California in 2008, claiming liabilities of US$4.6 million. His debts were discharged in 2010.

All five men have been remanded in custody and are due to return to court on June 17.

The Bandidos motorcycle club has rebuffed any suggestion it is linked to the drug haul, saying the distribution and possession of ice goes against the club's spirit and culture.

Bandidos MC Statement

"We, like most Australians, shared a sigh of relief that these drugs never reached our shores," the Bandidos said in a statement on Monday.

"The Bandido Motorcycle Club vehemently distance ourselves from this insidious scourge on humanity, in every way, shape and form.

"We categorically refute any suggestion of involvement whatsoever, in this or any other matter concerning ice." 

-Bandidos Motorcycle Club

AFP assistant commissioner Bruce Hill said on Friday a Mexican cartel, which he declined to name, was allegedly behind the drugs.

"The cartel is among one of the most powerful and violent drug trafficking syndicates in the world," he said.

SOURCE:  Bay 93.9

Friday, February 8, 2019

Hells Angel MC member home raided

Providence, R.I. (February 9, 2019) BTN —  A full patch member of the Rhode Island Hells Angels motorcycle club who was charged with gun and drug crimes after a search of his North Providence home has been ordered held without bail.

Douglas Leedham, 54, is charged in Rhode Island federal court with possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, possession with intent to distribute cocaine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking, and three counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Lincoln Almond ordered him held without bail because of the seriousness of the charges, some of which carry mandatory minimum sentences of five years.

“Certain of the offenses charged against him trigger the presumption under law that there are no bail conditions or combination of bail conditions that I can set that would reasonably assure the safety of the community or the defendant’s appearance to future court proceedings,” he said.

A “full patch” member is someone who has made it past the prospect phase and is given full membership, and can wear the full “Hells Angel” rocker patch. Leedham appeared in court Friday.

Federal authorities searched Leedham’s residence on Thursday, according to an affidavit filed in the U.S. District Court of Rhode Island by Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Colin Woods.

Authorities found two pistols, a shotgun, a body armor vest, 44 grams of meth, 19 grams of cocaine, 35 knives, four hatchets, nine batons, a set of brass knuckles, $6,422 in cash and a suspected drug ledger, according to a court document. “Leedham admitted that the guns and drugs seized from the residence were his,” Woods wrote in the affidavit.

The Department of Justice recognizes the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club as an “outlaw motorcycle gang.” The gang, federal authorities said, has been involved in producing and selling methamphetamine, and other criminal activity including assault, extortion, homicide and money laundering. The Hells Angels Motorcycle Club’s Rhode Island chapter is based in Providence, the FBI agent’s affidavit said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Daly Jr. told the judge that Leedham should be held because he is dangerous.

“The defendant had many weapons at this residence, of the variety... that would be useful as a member of an outlaw motorcycle gang,” he said. “So we believe, your honor, that this defendant does present a danger to the community.” There is also a possibility that Leedham could attempt to flee due to the seriousness of the charges against him, Daly said.

The 44 grams of methamphetamine found in Leedham’s home has been sent to a forensic lab for testing, and if it turns out to be 11-12 percent pure, Leedham would face a mandatory five-year minimum sentence, he said. Leedham’s attorney, William Dimitri, argued that Leedham didn’t present a danger or a flight risk.

His past gun conviction, Dimitri said, was due to the fact that Leedham had a license to carry in Massachusetts that had expired and he was waiting for it to be renewed. “It doesn’t negate the conviction...” he said. “But there were underlying circumstances that led to that conviction.”

According to the affidavit, Leedham was arrested by the Rhode Island State Police in December 2012 and charged with carrying a pistol without a license and possession of a weapon other than a firearm. Leedham was riding a motorcycle and had a vest identifying him as a “full patch” Hells Angels member, federal authorities said.

During the stop in 2012, Leedham had two knives, a ball peen hammer and a loaded pistol, the FBI agent’s affidavit said. He pleaded guilty in Superior Court to carrying a pistol without a license and got a five-year suspended sentence with five years of probation. Dimitri also said that Leedham has never been charged with a violent crime. In fact, he was the one who flagged down North Providence police on Dec. 29, 2018, he said.

That day, Leedham flagged down a North Providence police officer because one of two women driving in a gray GMC truck with him on Mineral Spring Avenue had become unconscious, according to the affidavit. Leedham told the police officer that the woman had taken either heroin or crystal methamphetamine, the affidavit said.

While the officer was giving the woman the overdose-reversal drug Narcan, the other one also became unconscious, apparently due to an overdose. Both went to a local hospital and survived. Dimitri said there isn’t necessarily a connection between the drugs the women overdosed on and the drugs found at Leedham’s residence.

“He’s the one that flagged down police, your honor, they weren’t chasing him,” Dimitri said. “To make the leap, I submit, that because methamphetamine was found on Feb. 7, that the methamphetamine or heroin whatever it was that they were O.D.ing on on Dec. 29 is somehow connected to Mr. leedham, there’s no nexus there.”

Leedham’s case will next be submitted to a grand jury, Dimitri said.


Forfeiture fight ends for the Outlaws MC

Ontario, Canada (February 8, 2019) BTN — It’s been two decades since the investigation began, 16 years since the charges were laid and a decade since the Crown began moving in court to keep the proceeds of crime seized by police.

But only now, 20 years later, a judge’s order has finally settled the loose ends left from a controversial police crackdown that all but dismantled the Outlaws biker club in Ontario.

Police officers lead away two people arrested in a 2002 multi-force raid on an Outlaws clubhouse

After all that time and effort, however, all that’s left are a few crumbs — far less than what it cost taxpayers and defendants to complete the litigation.

“We wouldn’t want to rush these things,” defence lawyer Gordon Cudmore, who represented the late Floyd Deleary in the Outlaws prosecution, said sarcastically of how long it took to finish the civil case.

Of the 47 bikers charged in the sweeping 2002 investigation, only Londoner Clifford Tryon, arrested in the raids but whose charges were later dropped, was still hanging in to get back seized property.

Tryon was a director and officer of a numbered corporation that owned the London and Windsor Outlaw clubhouses. He soldiered on after his fellow bikers bailed and fought for the remains of the club, arguing the Crown couldn’t lay claim to the items and that his Charter rights were breached.

At issue for Superior Court Justice Heather McArthur was what was left from six fortified clubhouses, including one on London’s Egerton Street, plus such items as petty cash, biker colours and a Nazi flag.

The courts ordered the clubhouses demolished in 2009, after they’d sat empty and fell into disrepair.

Once the sites were sold and the taxes and utilities paid up, all that was left was a mere $238.97 — only enough, as defence lawyer Scott Cowan said, to cover one fancy dinner.

That was forfeited to the Crown, along with $21.58 in change and $115 in bills found in the Egerton Street clubhouse and any other spare change lying around the other properties.

Outlaw vests, patches, jewelry and any clothing depicting the skull and crossbones logo weren’t returned. But a swastika flag signed by all the Outlaws, and other “white power” items and items for private or decorative use, were given back.

Tryon agreed the gun holsters, shotgun shells, other ammo, bear spray, throwing knives and bullet-proof vests shouldn’t be given back, but won his argument that a decorative knife and two swords should be.

Cowan said he figures the government shed no tears over how long the case took. Ontario’s Civil Remedies Act is “designed to make crime not pay,” he said.

“If it takes a long time to sort these things out, I don’t think the government is terribly aggrieved because that main message still gets through.” said Cowan, who represented one of the last two bikers in the criminal case, Luis Ferreira, where the charges were dropped.

The police had searched 50 sites and seized an avalanche of property. Most of the defendants gave up fighting for their property years ago, its value not worth the legal cost of the fight.

Ferreira gave up seven years ago trying to get back his truck and motorcycle, Cowan said. The truck, left sitting in a yard as the case dragged on, had basically “disintegrated.”

Cowan noted the standard of proof in the civil cases is different than in criminal cases, meaning different weight can be applied to the evidence.

The Crown pointed to the 13 convictions on criminal organization charges as proof the Outlaws were a criminal organization. Cowan noted the 13 convictions were all guilty pleas, many made after the accused were offered time-served deals that would spring them from custody.

The main witness in the case, a police agent who infiltrated the club, claimed there was criminal activity involving drugs, weapons and stolen goods. That witness’s evidence was challenged at a preliminary hearing where the criminal organization charges were ordered dropped.

Ontario’s attorney general revived the charges through what’s known as a preferred indictment.

As the case trudged on, Cowan and Toronto lawyer Jack Pinkofsky represented Ferriera and former national Outlaws president Mario Parente, the last two accused against whom charges were dropped in 2009 after the police agent said he wouldn’t take part in the trial.

The Outlaws breakup was seen as a major test of what were then new criminal organization laws.

None of the Outlaws had a trial, but a high-security courtroom was built in London for the case. The courtroom has since been used multiple times, including for the Bandidos massacre trial after eight bikers were executed in rural Elgin County over an internal club power struggle.

SOURCE:  London FreePress

Governor wants new anti-gang center for Waco

Waco, Texas, USA (February 8, 2019) BTN — Hoping to build on the successes of six anti-gang centers across the state, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is proposing to add two new crime-fighting centers, including one in Waco.

Abbott announced plans for new Texas anti-gang centers in Waco and Tyler in September and reiterated his resolve to fund the creation of the two new centers and to give additional funding for the six existing centers, during his state of the state address this week.

Aftermath of police massacre in Waco, Texas  

“The State of Texas is sending a message to criminals and gang members that any attempts to compromise the safety of our communities will not be tolerated,” Abbott said. “My top priority as governor is keeping Texans safe, and these latest proposals will help me do just that.”

The anti-gang centers involve local, state and federal law enforcement brought together under one roof to cooperate, share information and crack down on violent criminal activity, officials have said. The existing centers in Houston, San Antonio, McAllen, El Paso, Lubbock and Dallas, have achieved significant success in curbing gang activity governor’s office spokesman John Whitman said.

“The governor has said we know that these work because we have seen the results,” Whitman said. “In 2017, 1,400 criminals associated with gang-related activity were taken off the street in the Houston area. We have seen the results and we need to replicate that around the state, and the next two places we are proposing to do that are Waco and Tyler.”

Abbott has requested $7.1 million to continue funding for existing anti-gang centers and the two proposed centers, Whitman said. The Waco City Council approved a resolution Tuesday for the city to submit a $3.5 million criminal justice grant request to the governor’s office to fund the Waco center. If awarded, there would be no matching local funds required, Whitman said.

Funding is contingent on approval from the Texas Legislature, but Whitman said the governor has widespread support from lawmakers for most of his criminal justice proposals. The grant awards will be released in September, he said.

Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said if the money is allocated for the center in Waco, there is no specific timeline to have it operational. He said it will take time to find an appropriate location, furnish and equip it and select and possibly train officers who will participate.

Waco police Sgt.W. Patrick Swanton still in denial of what really happened

“As a department, we are very proud that the governor thought enough of us to ask us to be a part of this,” Swanton said. “It also is a big deal for our community because it will make our city safer. If you look at our past history, we know that gangs are here. We had outlaw motorcycle gangs that disrupted our community several years ago. There are prison gangs. MS-13 is here. Mexican Mafia members are here. Other prison gangs, the Bloods, Crips, they are here. We kind of run the gamut from everything from large organized prison gangs to your little neighborhood wannabe gangs. The officers will deal with those and try to cut off the head of the snake.”

Swanton said Waco likely was selected because of its central location, its gang presence and the May 2015 midday shootout at the former Twin Peaks restaurant between rival biker groups, Bandidos and Cossacks, that left nine dead and 20 wounded. 

“Gang members are some of the worst criminals out there, and our history with the Bandidos and Cossacks show the level they are capable of,” Swanton said. “They could care less about the citizenry. When you have a shootout in a very open mall area in the middle of the day, they don’t care about citizens and their safety. They could care less about who is in their way or who gets hurt, and that is what we are trying to combat.”

Cover up continues - Follow the money

Besides local agencies like police departments and sheriff’s offices, anti-gang centers typically include investigators from the Texas Department of Public Safety and federal agencies, including possibly the Drug Enforcement Administration, FBI, Homeland Security, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the U.S. Marshals Service, DPS spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger said. Anti-gang officers also work closely with state and federal prosecutors, Cesinger said.

The state’s first anti-gang center was established in Houston in 2012.

“Gangs and their associates are a significant threat to public safety, not only because of their penchant for violence and criminal activity, but also their relationships with other criminal organizations, such as Mexican cartels,” DPS Director Steven McCraw said in a statement. “The TAG centers utilize a proven strategy to increase safety in our communities by seamlessly coordinating local, state and federal resources in an effort to identify, disrupt and prosecute ruthless gangs operating in our communities.”

State Rep. Charles “Doc” Anderson, R-Waco, said he expects support for the measure in the House and Senate. He said Interstate 35 and U.S. Highway 77 provide natural corridors for drug and human traffickers, and Abbott’s proposed anti-gang center will help combat those major crime areas.

“I really appreciate the governor supporting law enforcement in our area that way,” Anderson said. “There are others around the state that have done well, and I am pleased the governor is helping to protect us in our area and I believe it most likely will come to fruition.”

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Hells Angels want clubhouse back

Haarlem, Amsterdam (February 7, 2019) BTN — The Hells Angels Haarlem Foundation fights Tuesday morning at the Council of State the closure of their home base at the Baljuwslaan.

Hells Angels MC Clubhouse in Haarlem

The Haarlem motorcycle club has stepped to the Council of State to have the closure of the building undone.
Mayor Jos Wienen decided in 2017 that the clubhouse of the Hells Angels had to be closed. According to Wienen, the reason to close the building was - firearms and drugs were found in a raid – and are very convincing. 

The club does not agree with the Mayor, who refuses reopening of the building

But according to the lawyer for the Hells Angels, the 'bad apples' have been removed from the club and the clubhouse could be opened again. A decision must be made within 6 weeks. The foundation claims that it has not been proven that the public order is disrupted by the reopening of the club house.

SOURCE:  HaarlemsWeekblad

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Cop and firefighter ringleaders in drug ring

Middletown, NY  (February 6, 2019) BTN — A Middletown firefighter and a retired Spring Valley police officer were among the dozens arrested as part of a sweep of allegedly drug dealing bikers in Orange County Tuesday.

Authorities say more than 20 people were taken into custody when search warrants were executed at 15 locations in connection with two separate drug rings, with the same man -- fire Lieutenant Paul Young -- at the center of both.

In all, 29 people were targeted for arrest, and investigators say leaders of the drug rings were so brazen that they sometimes met at the fire house.

Officials say the investigation, dubbed "Operation Bread, White and Blues," centered on several motorcycle organizations that allegedly distributed cocaine, fentanyl, marijuana and steroids.

The suspects were identified as:

--Paul Smith, 48, of Deerpark
--Robert Dunham, 46, of Middletown
--Marquis Gable, 34, of Nyack
--John Beltempo, 49, of New Windsor
--Kenneth Nunez, 39, of Spring Valley
--Garry Michel, 48, of Wallkill
--Joel Gamble, 44, of Cuddebackville
--Samuel Marino, 30, of Campbell Hall
--Arthur Mays, 30, of Middletown
--George Thomas, 61, of Bloomingburg
--David Lebel, 55, of Middletown
--Jennifer Peterson, 46, of Chester
--Vincenza Ferrante, 35, of New Windsor
--Shawn Daniels, 52, of Monroe
--Salvatore DiStefano, 36, of Westtown
--Melissa Delrosso, 35, of Middletown
--Raymond Chong, 49, of Middletown
--Tara Schoonmaker, 48, of Wurtsboro
--Crystal Crozier, 36, of Middletown
--Donald Johnston, 46, of Middletown
--Anthony Fields, 44, of Middletown
--Desmon Pierson, 36, of Middletown
--Dominick Guardino, 55, of Middletown
--Sunshine Wall, 40, of Cuddebackville
--Nicholas Ciccone, 47, of Port Jervis
--Charles Kavanaugh, 31, of Newburgh
--Gary Caldwell, 33, of Wappingers
--Justin Antona, 27, of Slate Hill
--Andrew Bendig, 23, of Middletown

The drugs reportedly came from both domestic and foreign sources, with the suspect allegedly selling the drugs throughout Orange County.

Most raided locations were in Orange County, but one location where the bikers allegedly purchased the drugs was at the Warren Hills apartment complex in Nyack, Rockland County. Authorities say they were then sold in Orange County.

State police, DEA agents and the FBI agents executed the warrants. Law enforcement officials recovered more than $200,000 in cash, 25 handguns, one assault rifle, multiple rifles, 10 vehicles, two motorcycles, more than 2.5 pounds of cocaine and 1,300 Fentanyl pills.

Authorities say Smith, a paid lieutenant of the City of Middletown Fire Department, has been charged with crimes including operating as a major trafficker as the alleged ringleader of both operations, working in tandem with Dunham.

Gamble and Michel, also charged with crimes including operating as major trafficker, are alleged to have been "profiteers" in the conspiracies to sell cocaine and narcotics pills. It is alleged that it was Gamble's role to provide cocaine to other members of the conspiracy, while Michel was to sell narcotic pills that were marketed to buyers as containing oxycodone but which actually contained fentanyl.

The pills were colored, stamped, and marked to appear to be oxycodone pills.

Beltempo previously worked for the Village of Spring Valley Police Department, the Orange County Sheriff's office and the Town of Wallkill Police Department.


Alleged Montréal Hells Angel member nabbed

Montréal, Québec  (February 6, 2019) BTN — An alleged member of the Hells Angels’ Montreal chapter is expected to appear before a judge at the Montreal courthouse on Wednesday after having avoided arrest in an organized crime investigation for 10 months.

In April last year, the Sûreté du Québec alleged Daniel-André Giroux was a member of the gang’s Montreal chapter, which is now more than four decades old. The SQ had just arrested dozens of people in Project Objection, a lengthy investigation into four drug trafficking networks throughout Quebec that had tentacles that reached into Ontario and New Brunswick.

Giroux, 48, was one of several men who could not be found when members of the Escouade nationale de répression du crime organisé (ENRCO) carried out arrests and search warrants. On Tuesday, the Sûreté du Québec tweeted that Giroux was arrested in Dominican Republic and that he is expected to be formally charged at the Montreal courthouse on Wednesday. The provincial police force noted that Giroux was on Quebec’s 10 most wanted list before the arrest was made.

Giroux faces five charges in Project Objection including two counts related to drug trafficking, another two alleging he committed crimes for the benefit of a criminal organization and conspiracy.

He was charged on an indictment along with 11 other people, including three other full-patch members of the biker gang; Michel (Sky) Langlois, Louis Matte and Stéphane Maheu. In October, Maheu, a member of the gang’s South chapter, ended his run on the lam and pleaded guilty to drug trafficking, gangsterism and conspiracy on the same day he made his first court appearance and was sentenced to a six-year prison term, the longest sentence in Project Objection so far.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Outlaws MC member can't have job back

Tampa, FL (February 5, 2019) BTN — A federal arbitrator says Hillsborough County was justified in firing a Fire Rescue medic who belonged to the Outlaws Motorcycle Club, noting the negative attention his membership brought the county.

Clinton Neal Walker, 35, of Bradenton, was fired a year ago after an internal investigation concluded he had “unwavering loyalty” to the Outlaws, long considered the state’s dominant motorcycle club.

He was the first Hillsborough employee to be investigated for gang activity under a series of county ordinances that prohibit membership in any organization the state or federal government considers criminal, including the Outlaws St. Petersburg Chapter where Walker was a member.

Arbitrator Charlotte Gold released her ruling in mid-January, ending a year-long fight by the local chapter of the International Association of Fire Fighters to save Walker’s job. Her report provided new insight into biker gang culture within the county’s fire department and throughout the Tampa Bay area.

“HCFR employees, including chiefs and a fire medic, attended MC (motorcycle club) events,” Gold wrote, and “many of its members were ex-military.”

Walker earned a Bronze Star, among other medals and awards, while in the U.S. Marine Corps. And as a county firefighter he was awarded a Medal of Valor. 

But Walker also had a long disciplinary history and “conducted himself in a manner that was detrimental to the department,” Gold wrote.

“The conclusion is inescapable that he affected the county’s standing in the community,’’ Gold wrote in her report. “His behavior ultimately reflected poorly on the county and his profession in general.”

Walker testified he had resigned from the Outlaws in October 2016, before the county issued a directive prohibiting all employees from “being a member of or voluntarily participating with any outside gang, as defined in the FBI’s 2015 National Gang Report.” The ban came two months after Walker was arrested in Key West for throwing the first punch in a bar fight that left two employees injured and involved as many as 15 other Outlaws, one wearing a T-shirt with a swastika on it and others who used racial slurs.

Walker ultimately negotiated a plea deal for the Key West fight and received a paid suspension from the county for 30 days. He was still serving that suspension when now-retired Hillsborough County Fire Rescue Captain James Costa, then president of the Outlaws St. Petersburg chapter, was shot by members of the rival 69ers Motorcycle Club while riding his motorcycle in south Hillsborough in July 2017. 

According to the report, Costa fired back. The shooting has since been tied to the shooting death of another Outlaw, Paul Anderson, in December 2017.

Walker was one of about 10 Outlaws who got a call from Costa and another Hillsborough County Fire Rescue medic telling them that Costa was being taken to a medical center in Manatee County with bullet wounds. 

Though he wasn’t on duty, Walker dressed in his Fire Rescue uniform and accompanied Costa into the hospital, taking his motorcycle vest with Outlaw insignia and initially refusing to turn it over to law enforcement.

“By wearing his HCFR t-shirt at the hospital, he gained favor for himself in violation of the county’s uniform regulations,” Gold wrote in her report. “He then proceeded to place the interests of a friend and mentor — an individual who continued a strong relationship with a motorcycle gang — over and above those of law enforcement.”

According to the report, Fire Rescue management has known about both Walker and Costa’s membership in the Outlaws since about 2008. Costa joined the Outlaws in 2002, and recruited Walker while working as his supervisor in Sun City Center’s Fire Station 28.

The new rules, and the ensuing investigation into Walker’s conduct, happened as a wave of bar brawls, bad behavior and execution-style killings between rival biker gangs swept across the Tampa Bay area, implicating firefighters in Hillsborough, Polk and Pasco counties.

SOURCE:  Tampa BayTimes