Outlaw Biker Gangs Enlisting Army Guys, What's Wrong With That?
Just in case you weren't nervous enough about the dangers of this bad old world, NBC brings us a scary story about a 2014 report by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on attempts by outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMGs) to recruit former and active duty members of the military into their criminal enterprises. The report, first obtained by The Intercept, warns that “The OMG community continues to spread its tentacles throughout all facets of government," and has some nice overheated language suggesting that someone at ATF really dreams of writing for the New York Post:
Their insatiable appetite for dominance has led to shootings, assaults and malicious attacks across the globe. OMGs continue to maim and murder over territory....As tensions escalate, brazen shootings are occurring in broad daylight.
Which is not to say that the problem isn't serious, I know, I know, it's really serious. You don't want criminal organizations infiltrating the military and law enforcement, and the report includes details on roughly 100 cases of people who shouldn't be in violent criminal gangs like the Hells Angels, Mongols, Bandidos, and other groups like the ones that shot up the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas, earlier this month. The Intercept notes that one of the bikers arrested in that incident was a retired detective from the San Antonio Police Department.
Charles Falco, who has worked undercover in OMGs as an investigator for ATF, told NBC News that he had seen photos of soldiers and military contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan showing off their gang regalia:
"Are they loyal to the government or are they loyal to the gang? They're more loyal to the gangs," Falco said.
Falco also said it stands to reason that OMGs would prize service members for what they could bring to the organizations:
"They're trained, they're great at conducting war and they have the ability to access weapons," he said. "The question is, why would the military allow current military folks to be in an active gang."
NBC cites Defense Department rules barring military members from "extremist groups" and from advocating "criminal gang doctrine," but ominously adds that "the regulations do not explicitly prohibit membership in an outlaw motorcycle gang." So maybe the American Family Association's Sandy Rios wasn't altogether nuts when she suggested that we "retrain" OMGs and turn them loose on our domestic enemies, like "the cartels" and "Islamists," since some of them are already trained. (Just to clarify: She actually is altogether nuts.)
In a battle of the consultants, The Intercept interviewed Edward Winterhalder, a "former high-ranking member of the Bandidos who left the club in 2003," who downplayed the participation of active-duty military and law-enforcement members in violent gangs, and noted that there are also many motorcycle clubs that explicitly reject criminality.
Just how terrified should we be? Probably only about medium-terrified. As The Intercept story says, the ATF report:
is a testament to how seriously law enforcement takes the issue of outlaw motorcycle gangs, detailing extensive surveillance; the document includes copies of military or government identification photos, some gained from traffic stops, and information from what appears to be close monitoring of military and government officials who attend the groups’ gatherings and activities across the country.
So we can be relieved that the government is keeping an eye on these baddies, but we can also get nice and suspicious of that new guy who just started attending our anarcho-socialist book club, the one who seems so intent on memorizing everyone's name and asking where they work.
[NBC / The Intercept / ATF report]
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.