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Richard Valdemar

Richard Valdemar

Sgt. Richard Valdemar retired from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department after spending most of his 33 years on the job combating gangs.
Gangs

Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs: Making the Cut

Outlaw motorcycle gang members gain status by committing criminal acts for a patch that can be sewn directly onto their cut.

May 17, 2011  |  by Chuck Schoville


Outlaw motorcycle gang members join together and refer to each other as brothers. They take great pride in believing they're an outlaw brotherhood living outside of society's laws. They often wear patches to indicate that they are "1 percenters" and relish the fact that they're not like the other 99 percent of the motorcycling community.

They use fear and intimidation to control other groups of motorcyclists as well as citizens into conforming and supporting the dominant 1 percent group. They taunt and disrespect law enforcement agencies. It's rather that they appreciate the perceived power they've garnered as a member of a gang.

Once one of their members has been arrested and charged with a gang-motivated crime, they'll quickly point out that they're not a gang, but are instead a club. It's really a matter of semantics. Historically, members of motorcycle gangs have been arrested on an occasional basis. In the last five to 10 years, there has been a drastic increase in the identification and arrests of motorcycle gang members.

Members of law enforcement agencies have realized that agencies of all sizes must work collectively to have an impact on Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (OMGs) to prevent their continued spread. Law enforcement is utilizing federal and state criminal organization statutes to target the entire gang hierarchy. Non-traditional methods of law enforcement are also being utilized to include the successful placement of undercover officers within the gangs, going after the "patch," civil forfeiture of illegally obtained proceeds including clubhouses, and civil abatement processes to seize buildings used to conduct illegal criminal activity.

In the past decade, law enforcement has successfully investigated, arrested, and incarcerated members of numerous outlaw motorcycle gangs throughout the world. This success has caused the members of the criminal organizations to act more cautiously and form unusual alliances with other motorcycle groups and criminal organizations. They no longer know who to trust, because it's not unusual for OMG members to cooperate with law enforcement.

A prosecutor can bring one gang expert after another into a courtroom to describe the ideology, mindset, and motivation of an OMG member. The defense attorneys argue that experts aren't knowledgeable about the inner workings of a motorcycle club.

Tags: Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs, Gang Intelligence


Comments (1)

Displaying 1 - 1 of 1

Morning Eagle @ 5/20/2011 12:02 PM

Good synopsis on these gangs. Perhaps they are only "1 percent" but the collective negative impact they have in areas they operate in is far above that seemingly minor percentage. Despite the protestations of their defense weasels they are criminals on purpose and they know they are. People with criminal proclivities, especially violent ones, but that wouldn't have the nerve to act out individually, join these groups to share in the supposed power and the relative anonymity of being part of a larger group of like-minded individuals. They attempt to adopt the "tough" persona of the group and make it their own. But when isolated from their buddies they frequently turn out not to be so 'tough' after all. They often flagrantly violate traffic laws thus providing a valid reason to stop them.

I once pursued a 'single' at very high speed that was fleeing to get back to where about 50 to 75 of his gang were camped along a river. About a half mile from camp his bike suddenly quit so he had to pull over. He was wearing all the gang paraphernalia and at first he talked tough. We were in plain sight of the camp and could see people watching us. He kept looking toward the camp as if expecting the cavalry to come roaring to his rescue. That thought crossed my mind too but not one rider left camp. When he finally figured out he was going to jail for reckless driving, no M/C endorsement, etc., he literally began to cry and beg not to be arrested, not to have his precious bike impounded, mixed with curses at his fellow gang members for not coming to his aid. We waited about a half hour for a tow truck to arrive and none of his "friends" even ventured out to see what was going on. In his view he had been left hanging and he was very disillusioned, promising to go forth and mend his ways if I would just let him go. Of course they are not all that way but there are weak links than can be exploited by unrelenting police pressure.

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