Top 10 Most Dangerous Motorcycle Gangs
What differentiates a motorcycle club or organization from a group of deadly outlaws? According to the United States Department of Justice, Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (or OMGs) “…are organizations whose members use their motorcycle clubs as conduits for criminal enterprises. OMGs are highly structured criminal organizations whose members engage in criminal activities such as violent crime, weapons trafficking, and drug trafficking.”
After extensively researching the most notable and dangerous of these OMGs, I found myself yelling “OMG!!” more than a few times. Much like hit franchises such as The Sopranos seemed to somewhat romanticize and humanize mafia leaders and members, the same has happened for Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs. The FX hit series Sons of Anarchy revolved storylines around the members and families of a motorcycle gang. Although SOA didn’t shy away or gloss over the components of killing, drugs and other crimes that make these types of motorcycle gang members “outlaws,” the antiheroes of the series along with the wives, girlfriends and other family members that were regular fixtures in each episode made the idea of gangs both compelling and sympathetic. Rather than reel back in fear while watching these gangsters hop on their “hogs” on SOA, audiences of the series would feel sympathy and connection to all of the characters, which are so deftly portrayed by the sensational actors making up the cast.
That is all well and good as far as entertainment goes, but we must remember that one keyword—entertainment. The reality of Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs is a dark one that does not offer room for sympathy, except for the rolodex of victims who have been killed by leaders and gang members, and the young naive individuals who are vetted and recruited into these gangs only to become entrenched in a life of violence, crime and—if they aren’t killed first—years or life sentences within the prison system.
The history of motorcycle gangs stretches back all the way to the 1930s, and various chapters of the most notorious and dangerous are still regular fixtures in headlines, as members and leaders continue to perpetuate the gangs’ legacies of crime, violence and drugs. Below are the ten most dangerous motorcycle gangs to ever exist. A majority of these are listed as OMGs by the US Department of Justice save for The Warlocks. However, their absence on the US Department of Justice does not take away from the danger this gang poses to society. The gang members’ frequent appearance in headlines for murder and drugs is evidence of how much this group continues to thrive and further a lineage of criminal activity.
In fact, let’s elaborate on this fact right now, as The Warlocks mark the number 10 spot on our list.
The Warlocks motorcycle club was established in 1967 and remains one of the most feared and prominent motorcycle gangs in America. Exclusive to only white males, the gang has a reputation for extreme violence and brutality.They also are known for their perpetuation of the drug culture in America, with several members having been caught transporting things like crystal meth and crank.
The group continues to make headlines today. In what was a surprise to many, former Warlock member Paul Smith recently received a “not guilty” verdict for a 2012 shooting, but continued to have upcoming court dates for drug charges, and several other members make headlines for being involved in drug-related incidents, manslaughter and murders or attempted murders.
The Bandidos are concentrated mostly in Texas, but have a widespread influence with over 2,000 members and a presence that has been felt in 16 states and 14 countries. The patch for the gang depicts a cartoon of someone wearing a sombrero (they smuggle drugs across the U.S.-Mexican border like it’s their job…well, I guess it kind of is…) and holding both a pistol and a machete, because clearly one weapon is never enough.
As recently as March 2015, police arrested two members of this vitriolic gang for a brothel assault. According to ABC Australia, “[Members] Blair John Kelly and Daniel William Rugg, entered a brothel on Hunter Street on Sunday morning and allegedly assaulted the 61-year-old male owner and threatened him with a knife. The owner’s nose was broken and he was taken to hospital.”
In January 2015, eight members (eight!) were indicted for drug trafficking within the Denver-metro area. According to Fox 31 Denver, “Officials seized approximately two and half pounds of meth with a street value $40,000, according to a statement from the Attorney General’s office.”
The report named Philip Duran as one of the Bandidos’ leaders and key player in the drug trafficking ring. He remained at large at the time of the Fox 31 report, but a subsequent report from ABC 7 provided an update on Jan. 28 that Duran had in fact been arrested.
If Breaking Bad didn’t teach you a lesson about the dangers and detriments of crystal meth, hopefully this adds a cautionary tale. Bottom line—don’t do drugs, kids! Oh, and don’t sell them either.
The Highwaymen are a gang based in Detroit, Michigan with approximately 200 members and were established in 1954. Their insignia depicts a skeleton donning a leather jacket, motorcycle cap and wings, which is not terrifying at all and yes, that last statement was dripping with sarcasm.
The aging group experienced their greatest notoriety in 2007 when a “…raid resulted in the arrest of forty Highwaymen on charges as diverse as mortgage fraud, cocaine trafficking, and murder for hire.”
The Highwaymen, however, have not remained as prominent in headlines as other motorcycle gangs still active today. Perhaps this is because, after so many years of notoriety, arrests and aging leadership has led the gang to surpass its proverbial expiration date.
Sons of Silence
The Sons of Silence Motorcycle Club was established in 1966 and is based out of Colorado. With only 300 members, they are a smaller network of bikers, but don’t let the lack of number fool you—they are one of the deadliest and most tenacious motorcycle gangs in existence.
Due to a litany of turf wars, the Sons of Silence built a heavy arsenal of deadly weapons like machine guns, grenades and pipe bombs. This arsenal was discovered in 1999 when the group was raided, resulting in the arrests of 37 members for drug trafficking and illegal weapons charges.
More recently, three chapters of the gang were dismantled. According to a report from the Denver Post, “More than 250 law enforcement agents ‘dismantled’ three local chapters of the Sons of Silence motorcycle gang [in October 2014], arresting 39 members and seizing dozens of guns…Beginning just after dark Thursday, SWAT teams made up of federal and local agents spread out to 25 locations in Colorado Springs, Commerce City and Fort Collins…Two undercover federal agents infiltrated the motorcycle gang and spent two years documenting illegal drug and gun transactions that culminated with the raids. Agents seized 48 weapons, including 24 fully automatic machine guns, four hand grenades, four pipe bombs and handmade grenades, $25,000 in cash, 10 pounds of methamphetamine, a silencer, eight Harley-Davidson motorcycles and the gang’s two clubhouses, at 941 S. Conejos St. in Colorado Springs and 8241 Brighton Road in Commerce City.”
On one message board someone alleging to be formerly involved with the Sons of Silence spoke of the dangers of associating with the gang, writing, “I use to ride and went to rallys where these sons of silence guys were and let me just say don’t piss them off. These guys will drop you in river and never think twice. I haven’t seen any in southeast Missouri in awhile but these guys mean business.”
The Pagan’s Motorcycle Club or The Pagans
The Pagan’s Motorcycle Club originated as a non-violent club when it was founded by Lou Dobbin in 1959. It wasn’t until it was take over in the 1970s by John “Satan” Marron that the group fell into the same ranks as other violent motorcycle gangs with a penchant for drug trafficking and other forms of organized crime.
According to Complex, “The FBI views the Pagan’s as an incredibly dangerous organization, largely due to their connections with gangs like the Aryan Brotherhood and the Italian Mafia. Members of the Pagan’s are regularly tied to arson, bombings, and murders, and one of the gang’s favorite hobbies is stockpiling machine guns.”
As far as recent headlines go, a January 2015 report from TribLive noted that one of the group’s former leaders, Dennis “Rooster” Katona, has been seeking to have a conviction overturned in which “police searched his home and found cocaine and methamphetamine valued at about $20,000…” Katona is claiming that the search of his home was “illegal”. He is currently serving an 80-month sentence in prison for the charges.
The Vagos Motorcycle Club
Of all the motorcycle gangs on this list thus far, the Vagos Motorcyle Club has the most extensive website. I’m not entirely sure why you’d even want to have a public website if you’re involved in organized crime, but to each their own, and I’m certainly not going to be the one to put anyone on blast when I know they have a litany of violent crime and murder convictions within their rolodex.
Anyway, upon entering this club’s site, you will see an animated image displayed of a devilish rendering of the Norse god Loki, who can also be seen riding a motorcycle on the gang’s green and red patches. There is a slideshow featuring pictures from decades past of members and leaders (which seem innocuous enough) and then a history of the group. According to the official website, “In the early sixties thirteen friends started a motorcycle club in Southern California. For years many have passed stories around, this is the real story of how the Vagos Motorcycle Club was originated from one of the last of the first 13 original members and founders. This is his story of the birth of our club. It is important to pass this history of our club to all our brothers in order to keep its history alive.”
The history goes on to note that the Mexican chapters of the gang were started “by accident” but there doesn’t seem to be any upset expressed in the existence and continued notoriety of the gang. Also, there isn’t any mention of rivalries or the fact that members of this gangs are accused of committing crimes and go to jail a lot, although I guess that’s not the most savory thing to note about your organization on the world wide web.
According to Complex, the gang has a long history of “drug smuggling operations with their Mexican chapters,” have been accused of “booby trapping police cars” and also has a notable and violent history with rival gang, the Hell’s Angel.
Like the Vagos, the Mongols have a long rivalry with the Hell’s Angel, who we will be detailing more in a bit. As an overview, Complex notes that the rivalry was originally a result of a majority of the members being Hispanic or Native American, and that, “The club was founded after a number of Latino bikers were denied entry to the Hell’s Angels due to their race.”
On their official website, the Mongols are not shy about showing off exactly who they are and even intimate some of their various run-ins with the law and attempted dismantlement of the gang by police officials in this anecdote:
“Brotherhood and Biking for over 40 years. We are the MONGOLS MC, the Best of the Best! The baddest 1%er Motorcycle Club known worldwide. The Mongols M.C. would like to thank you for visiting our official website. We appreciate all the love and support. The Club has taken some big hits recently, and has persevered through these hard times. We are back BIGGER, BETTER, and STRONGER.
WHEN WE DO RIGHT NOBODY REMEMBERS, WHEN WE DO WRONG NOBODY FORGETS … Live Mongol, Die Mongol!”
They also have a “Brothers Behind Bars” section of the website where they ask for support of members who have admitted to guilt of the crimes they have been charged with, and also for those that the administrators of the site allege “…are not guilty, but are sentenced for the patch that they wear.”
The Black Pistons
The Black Pistons are actually a “support gang,” meaning they work to support more notorious gangs, like the Outlaws (who will be featured in a bit). According to Complex, the “Black Pistons deal drugs and rough up enemies on behalf of the Outlaws.”
The Black Pistons have a wide reach as members are active throughout the United States. The mercilessness and violence of members of the Black Pistons was evident during an attack by members on Kristopher Stone during November 2014. The attack was caught on surveillance footage outside of a restaurant in Jacksonville, Florida, and resulted in the “justifiable homicide” of a member by Stone who was attacked without any provocation and fired several bullets after being in fear of his life.
The full story on the incident and subsequent “justifiable homicide” ruling can be found here. According to the report, Stone was a prospect for another motorcycle club known as the Iron Order. In defending himself, Stone shot and killed Black Pistons member Zachary “Nas T” Tipton, who was abandoned by fellow Black Pistons members.
“[Stone] was in fear for his life. He even told authorities that he thought he had emptied or shot his entire clip because he was in fear for his life,” State Attorney Angela Corey said. “I think [the fellow members of the Black Pistons’] true character came out in this incident when they left their friend there to die.”
The Outlaws Motorcycle Club
The Outlaws Motorcycle Club was established in 1936, making them the oldest motorcycle club still in existence today. They are active throughout the United States and other countries as well, including Australia, Asia, Europe and North and South America. Their official website details the club’s full history as far as the development of chapters go, but—of course—seems to gloss over the fact that the Outlaws have been heavily involved in drug trafficking, turfs wars between other gangs (particularly the Hell’s Angels) and the loss of countless lives through murder.
One of the members’ most recent gripes involved the February 2015 demand for the return of badges and vests that were confiscated in a bar fight in Illinois which date backs to 2012. According to the Chicago Tribune, “…a lawyer for Outlaws Motorcycle Club wants the courts to return the leather vests and club badges that were confiscated from the alleged attackers during the investigation. Prosecutors say the patches should not be returned because they are emblems of a notorious gang — traditionally considered a main rival of the Hell’s Angels — whose members have been involved in other criminal activities. McHenry County officials called a gang crime expert to the stand Friday who said the attack at Lizard Lounge outside Wonder Lake, some of which was caught on video and shown in court, was intended to show the group’s dominance of the bar.”
The report went on to note that the lawyer for the members of the Outlaws argued that the motorcycle club was “not a gang” but rather, “…a club and civic organization.”
That being said, there was nothing civil about the terror inflicted on the patrons of the bar where officials were called and later confiscated Outlaws attire. According to the report, “About a half-dozen people who were in the bar that night testified…that everyone was having fun, singing karaoke and dancing until several men wearing leather vests with patches walked in and, one man said, the mood changed ‘drastically.’ Witnesses said men attacked four people without provocation. Two men testified that they ended up on the ground being punched and kicked by the bikers. One said he was attacked when he tried to intervene after the bikers surrounded his sister. The sister testified that a woman wearing a leather vest spat beer in her face and threw her across the bar. Another woman took the stand to say the bikers took her boyfriend behind the bar and severely beat him.”
Yeah, that sounds a lot like gang behavior to me.
The Hells Angels are a motorcycle gang that have been around longer than most and are considered by many to be the most notorious in existence. According to their website the organization was founded on March 17, 1948, “…in the Fontana/San Bernardino area in the United States of American.” Today, the Hells Angels are prominent in the California area as well as Canada and, according to Complex, “…at last count the MC had 2,500 members across six continents.”
The Hells Angels are a vicious, violent gang who have been named as an organized crime syndicate (along with the other gangs mentioned on this list) by the U.S. Department of Justice. Along with drug smuggling and trafficking, the Hells Angels are known for repeated brawls with rival gangs and have even been subject to infighting amongst each other and various chapters.
This gang remains a prominent fixture in crime headlines. In a recent report from The Courier Mail, members of the Hells Angels’ recent efforts in reclaiming territory on the Gold Coast was squandered by police officials.
According to the report, “Officers from Taskforce Maxima swooped on a property in Em Harley Drive, Burleigh, last night, finding inside an elaborate clubhouse setup and quantities of ice and ecstasy with a street value of $15,000. Another search warrant undertaken at the Great Hall Drive, Mermaid Beach, where police seized steroids. Police allege the Burleigh address was the clubhouse for the Gold Coast chapter of the Hells Angels, disguised as a business.”