Nuclear power plant technicians, senior military officers, FBI contractors and an employee of “a highly-secretive Department of Defense agency” with a Top Secret clearance. Those are just a few of the more than 100 people with sensitive military and government connections that law enforcement is tracking because they are linked to “outlaw motorcycle gangs.”
A year before the deadly Texas shootout that killed nine people on May 17, a lengthy report by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives detailed the involvement of U.S. military personnel and government employees in outlaw motorcycle gangs, or OMGs. A copy of the report was obtained by The Intercept.
The report lays out, in almost obsessive detail, the extent to which OMG members are represented in nearly every part of the military, and in federal and local government, from police and fire departments to state utility agencies. Specific examples from the report include dozens of Defense Department contractors with Secret or Top Secret clearances; multiple FBI contractors; radiological technicians with security clearances; U.S. Department of Homeland Security employees; Army, Navy and Air Force active-duty personnel, including from the special operations force community; and police officers.
“The OMG community continues to spread its tentacles throughout all facets of government,” the report says.
The relationship between OMGs and law enforcement has come under scrutiny after it became known that law enforcement were on site in Waco bracing for conflict.
The 40-page report, “OMGs and the Military 2014,” issued by ATF’s Office of Strategic Intelligence and Information in July of last year, warned of the escalating violence of these gangs. “Their insatiable appetite for dominance has led to shootings, assaults and malicious attacks across the globe. OMGs continue to maim and murder over territory,” the report said. “As tensions escalate, brazen shootings are occurring in broad daylight.”
The ATF report is based on intelligence gathered by dozens of law enforcement and military intelligence agencies, and identifies about 100 alleged associates of the country’s most violent outlaw motorcycle gangs and support clubs who have worked in sensitive government or military positions.
Those gangs “continue to court active-duty military personnel and government workers, both civilians and contractors, for their knowledge, reliable income, tactical skills and dedication to a cause,” according to the report. “Through our extensive analysis, it has been revealed that a large number of support clubs are utilizing active-duty military personnel and U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) contractors and employees to spread their tentacles across the United States.”
The report predicted that six dominant OMGs — Mongols, Hells Angels, Outlaws, Pagans, Bandidos and Vagos — would continue to expand, with escalating violence. The groups are known as “one-percenter” clubs, a moniker they proudly use to denote their outlaw status. The report identifies the most violent as Bandidos and Hell’s Angels support clubs — the same groups involved in a deadly shootout in Waco, Texas on Sunday.
The deadly confrontation involved the Bandidos and a rival club, the Cossacks MC, who are backed by Bandidos’ arch rivals, the Hell’s Angels. The shootout was part of a ongoing turf battle: Without permission from the Bandidos, Cossacks members have begun wearing a patch on their vests that claims Texas as the club’s territory — a figurative thumb in the eye of the Bandidos, long the state’s dominant motorcycle club. Nine people were killed and more than 170 bikers were arrested in the noontime showdown.
On Wednesday, law enforcement in Texas confirmed to several media outlets that one of the bikers arrested in the massive post-shootout sweep was a former San Antonio police detective, who joined the Bandidos after retiring from the department after 32 years.
The ATF report identifies the Bandidos as the dominant and most violent of the motorcycle gangs in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, and identifies a staff sergeant instructor in the United States Air Force, currently stationed at Keesler Air Force Base, as the president of the local Pistoleros chapter, a Bandidos support club. According to the report, he routinely hosts parties for active duty military personnel.
In response to questions about the report, an ATF spokesperson said, “This was supposed to be solely a law enforcement tool to help fight violent crime. It was not supposed to be out there in the ether for general consumption.” The Intercept, after consulting with ATF, has redacted some portions of the report.
In an interview, Edward Winterhalder, a former high-ranking member of the Bandidos who left the club in 2003, said that while military veterans have long been involved in motorcycle clubs — many of the current outlaw clubs were formed in the wake of World War II — current-duty military or law enforcement members are not generally involved in the most violent gangs.
According to Winterhalder, biker clubs not associated with the violent one-percenters have many government employees — current military, law enforcement and firefighters — as members. Indeed, some clubs have emerged that pointedly disavow any connections to violence or lawlessness, or that specifically bill themselves as a LEMC — law enforcement motorcycle club.
Among those are the Iron Circle LEMC, a Texas club formed in 2006; the Arizona-founded Roughnecks Country MC — for the “99 percent … that gives a shit about society and the laws that govern the world we live in”; the Iron Order MC, a fiercely independent club that strongly rejects the ethos of the one-percenters; and the Protectors LEMC, which requires a criminal background check for prospective members.
Nonetheless, the report documents extensive involvement of current-duty military and government personnel in the outlaw groups, and does not mention LEMCs.
The 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.