Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs
State of New Jersey Commission of Investigation 1989 Report

Outlaw motorcycle gangs have been in existence since the late 1940's. Their criminal activities include but are not limited to the distribution of illegal drugs, possession and illegal sale of firearms, motor vehicle theft, especially of motorcycles, and assorted crimes of violence. There are at least five gangs active in New Jersey today – the Pagans, the Breed, the Warlocks, the Wheels of Soul and the Ghetto Riders. The origin of these gangs is rooted in their philosophy of always having a good time, with little or no regard for the law. The groups are bound together through the principle of loyalty toward the organization and fellow members. An example of this camaraderie is apparent in the following excerpt taken from the credo of one of the gangs, a philosophy shared by all of them:
Look at your brother standing next to you and ask yourself if you would give him half of what you have in your pocket or half of what you have to eat. If a citizen hits your brother, will you be on him without asking why? There is no why. Your brother isn't always right but he is always your brother. It's one in all and all in one. If you don't think this way, then walk away. Because you are a citizen and you don't belong to us.
Structurally, outlaw motorcycle gangs are comprised of local chapters and a "Mother Club," which supervises the local chapters. Each local chapter has a Mother Club advisor who, in effect, exercises direct supervision over the membership. The Mother Club advisor is largely responsible for appointing members to the various positions of responsibility in the gang. As the overseer, the Mother Club establishes and enforces policy for the organization, schedules, mandatory trips or "runs," and has final authority over club matters.

During the late 1960's, the widespread societal use of illegal drugs, as well as a general disdain for authority and established institutions, provided a climate in which outlaw motorcycle gangs thrived. Initially, they were perceived by law enforcement only as participants in the growing drug subculture. When demand for methamphetamine was high, law enforcement initially did not recognize its potential threat and outlaw motorcycle gangs took advantage of the situation. They had, in fact, achieved a position of relative prominence in the distribution of methamphetamine. Today, the outlaw motorcycle gangs operating in New Jersey continue to engage in drug trafficking, especially of meth amphetamine. However, this illegal market is not as lucrative as it once was. As law enforcement directed some of its resources toward the methamphetamine market, gangs soon became targets and numerous prosecutions were brought against key members. In New Jersey and other states, several successful racketeering prosecutions have caused a noticeable decline in gang membership and in overt activity. As a result, members are less ostentatious in exhibiting their gang affiliation and are maintaining a lower profile to avoid identification by law enforcement authorities. The primary way in which members demonstrate their allegiance to a particular gang is by displaying their "colors" while travelng by motorcycle on major roadways. Colors are the official uniform of all outlaw motorcycle gangs. Typically, colors consist of a sleeveless denim or leather jacket which bears an "official" patch or insignia on the back and an assortment of patches and pins attached to other areas of the vest. Consid- ered by members as sacred, the colors are worn exclusively by male members and, in fact, are gang property. In the past, a set of colors would contain the member's rank, his nickname and other designations which may identify his involvement in drugs, sexual exploits, or simply bear the initials of an anti-social statement.

Violence by outlaw motorcycle gangs is usually limited to turf wars and intergang rivalries. A recent example involved the December, 1988, kidnapping and vicious assault by three Warlocks on the president of the Trenton/Bucks County chapter of the Breed. Reportedly, this was in retaliation for an earlier assault by several Breed members on a Warlock member in Pennsylvania.

One characteristic of outlaw motorcycle gangs is their use of wives and girlfriends in gang activities, such as transporting illegal weapons or other contraband. They also use these women to gather information that may be useful to the gang. For example, there have been numerous incidents in which such persons held jobs in municipal, county, state or federal agencies from which they could access documents such as driver licenses, registrations, birth certificates and court records. Females affiliated with an outlaw motorcycle gang are also expected to engage in illegal activities, such as welfare fraud, to support club members. Many also work in cash generating professions such as go-go dancing or topless dancing.

Gang members have little regard for their women as human beings. Often referred to as "Old Lady, Mama, or Sheep," females are considered subservient and are expected to cater to the whims of the membership. While a women known as an "Old Lady" is the wife or girlfriend of a member (and is spoken for), "Mamas" or "Sheep" are available to all members, usually for sexual exploitation.

Aside from recognized involvement in tattoo parlors, auto body shops and related motor vehicle businesses, the outlaw bikers' interest in other legitimate areas seems limited. Perhaps this is because of their overall antisocial philosophy, which does not lend itself to conventional enterprise.

Due to the recent successful interdiction efforts by law enforcement, coupled with the diminished demand for methamphetamine, outlaw motorcycle gangs are generally considered an organized crime force in decline. However, if these groups are able to adapt to the new conditions facing them, they may once again become a force within the narcotics marketplace. It has been suggested that one way they could accomplish this would be through the production and distribution of the new methamphetamine derivative, "ice." This drug, which is extremely addictive, has become popular in fast-paced environments on the West Coast and is expected to make its way east. Unfortunately, the Atlantic City casino environment represents an already established market for "ice." And since the outlaw motorcycle gangs have established themselves as a dominant force in the manufacture and distribution of methamphetamine, the transition to producing and distributing "ice" would be feasible.

The information in this section was compiled under the direction of Justin J. Dintino, former Chief of Organized Crime Intelligence, by Senior Special Agent Francis A. Betzler, Special Agents Bruce C. Best, Robert Diszler, Michael R. Hoey, Dennis McGuigan, Kurt S. Schmid and James J. Sweeney, former Special Agent Michael Dancisin and Intelligence Analyst Paula A. Carter.