Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (OMGs) are organizations whose members use their motorcycle clubs as conduits for criminal enterprises. There are more than 300 active OMGs in the United States (U.S.), ranging in size from single chapters with five or six members to hundreds of chapters with thousands of members worldwide. The Hells Angels Motorcycle Club (Hells Angels), the Bandidos Motorcycle Club (Bandidos) and the Outlaws Motorcycle Club (Outlaws) conduct the majority of criminal activity linked to OMGs, especially activity relating to drug-trafficking and, more specifically, to cross-border drug smuggling. Because of their transnational scope, these OMGs are able to coordinate drug smuggling operations in partnership with major international drug-trafficking organizations (DTOs).
The birth of the 1%er patch dates back to 1961 when the AMA started their “Put Your Best Wheel Forward” campaign into effect which asked cycle riders to keep a clean public appearance. The cycle riders that scoffed at the AMA started wearing American Outlaws Association (AOA) patches which eventually became the 1%er patch in response to the AMA comment about 99% of the riders attending motorcycle races as being good law abiding citizens.
The Bandidos Motorcycle Club (Bandidos) is an OMG with a membership of 2,000 to 2,500 persons in the U.S. and in 13 other countries. The Bandidos constitute a growing criminal threat to the U.S. Law enforcement authorities estimate that the Bandidos are one of the two largest OMGs operating in the U.S., with approximately 900 members belonging to 93 chapters. The Bandidos are involved in transporting and distributing cocaine and marijuana and are involved in the production, transportation and distribution of methamphetamine. The Bandidos are most active in the Pacific, Southeastern, Southwestern and the West Central regions of the U.S. The Bandidos are expanding in each of these regions by forming additional chapters and allowing members of supporting clubs, known as “puppet” or “duck” club members who have sworn allegiance to another club but who support and do the “dirty work” of a mother club–to form new or join existing Bandidos chapters.
Black Pistons MC
The Black Pistons Motorcycle Club (Black Pistons) is the official support club for the Outlaws Motorcycle Club (Outlaws). Established in 2002 with the backing of the Outlaws, the Black Pistons have expanded rapidly throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe. The Black Pistons have an estimated 70 domestic chapters in 20 states and an unknown number of foreign chapters in Belgium, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Norway and Poland. The exact number of Black Pistons members is unknown but the figure is estimated to be more than 200 in the U.S. The Outlaws use the Black Pistons chapters as a recruitment source for prospective Outlaws members. The Outlaws also use the Black Pistons chapters to conduct criminal activity, especially for the transportation and distribution of drugs. Members of the Black Pistons are also known to engage in assault, extortion, fraud, intimidation and theft.
Hells Angels MC
The Hells Angels Motorcycle Club (Hells Angels) is an OMG with between 2,000 and 2,500 members who belong to over 230 chapters in the U.S. and in 26 foreign countries. The Hells Angels pose a criminal threat on six continents. U.S. law enforcement authorities estimate that the Hells Angels have more than 92 chapters in 27 states with a membership in excess of 800 persons. The Hells Angels are involved in the production, transportation and distribution of marijuana and methamphetamine. Additionally, the Hells Angels are involved in the transportation and distribution of cocaine, hashish, heroin, LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), ecstasy, PCP (phencyclidine) and diverted pharmaceuticals. The Hells Angels are also involved in other criminal activity including assault, extortion, homicide, money laundering and motorcycle theft.
The Mongols Motorcycle Club (Mongols) is an extremely violent OMG that poses a serious criminal threat to the Pacific and Southwestern regions of the U.S. The Mongols are engaged in the transportation and distribution of cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine. The Mongols are also known to frequently commit violent crime including assault, intimidation and murder in defense of their territory, and to uphold the reputation of the club. A majority of the Mongols membership consists of Hispanic males who live in the Los Angeles area, and many are former street gang members with a long history of using violence to settle grievances. Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms (ATF) have called the Mongols the most violent and dangerous OMG in the nation. In the 1980’s the Mongols seized control of Southern California from the Hells Angels, and today, the Mongols are allied with the Bandidos, the Outlaws, the Sons of Silence and the Pagan’s against the Hells Angels. The Mongols have also maintained their ties with Hispanic street gangs in Los Angeles.
The Outlaws Motorcycle Club (Outlaws) have more than 1,700 members who belong to 176 chapters in the U.S. and in 12 foreign countries. U.S. law enforcement authorities estimate that the Outlaws have more than 86 chapters in 20 states with over 700 members. The Outlaws also identify themselves as the A.O.A. (American Outlaws Association) and the Outlaws Nation. The Outlaws are the dominant OMG in the Great Lakes region. The Outlaws are involved in the production, transportation and distribution of methamphetamine, the transportation and distribution of cocaine, marijuana and, to a lesser extent, ecstasy. The Outlaws engage in various criminal activities including arson, assault, explosives, extortion, fraud, homicide, intimidation, kidnapping, money laundering, prostitution, robbery, theft and weapons violations. The Outlaws compete with the Hells Angels for both members and territory.
The Pagans Motorcycle Club (Pagans) is a violent OMG whose membership distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana and PCP (phencyclidine). The Pagan’s are one of the most prominent OMGs in the Mid-Atlantic region. The Pagan’s have an estimated 200 to 250 members among 41 chapters in 11 states. The Pagan’s have been tied to traditional organized crime groups in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and New York and have engaged in criminal activities such as arson, assault, bombing, extortion and murder.
The Vagos Motorcycle Club (Vagos) has hundreds of members in the U.S. and Mexico and poses a serious criminal threat to those areas in which its chapters are located. U.S. law enforcement authorities report that the Vagos have approximately 300 members among 24 chapters located in the states of California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon and three chapters located in Mexico. The Vagos produce, transport and distribute methamphetamine and are also involved in the distribution of marijuana. The Vagos have also been implicated in other criminal activities including assault, extortion, insurance fraud, money laundering, murder, vehicle theft, witness intimidation and weapons violations. In the U.S., the Vagos are mainly active in the Southwest and Pacific regions.