Hoodlum biker gangs leaving trails of exhaust, murder and mayhem in their wake are not a thing of yesteryear, as demonstrated by a recent killing pinned on the notorious Outlaws Motorcycle Club near Orlando. The Outlaws, whose motto is “God forgives, Outlaws don’t,” have been actively challenging motorcycle clubs throughout the state, an investigation into the April 29 slaying of a Kingsmen motorcyclist in Leesburg has revealed.
The Outlaws have “decreed that any clubs that did not choose to submit to their authority would need to disband, close their clubhouses and cease to wear their respective insignia,” court documents show. Late last year, the FBI sent a memo to law enforcement agencies in the Keys warning of an uptick in the presence of biker gangs in South Florida, especially the Keys, Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay said Friday.
Various gangs are trying to gain territory in South Florida, and the Outlaws may react with increased presence and influence. Gang conflicts at motorcycling events could be expected, the November memo warned, Ramsay said. “We were told that the Outlaws gang was generally trying to take more control in South Florida, especially in the Keys,” he said. “But we’ve seen an increase in all four of the main biker gangs down here.
” He listed the four as: the Outlaws, the Hells Angels, the Pagans and the Pistons. No one gang is perceived as “controlling” territory in the region, Ramsay said. The FBI would neither confirm nor deny such a decree, activity or memo. “Sorry, no comment on motorcycle gang activity in South Florida,” said Special Agent Michael Leverock, spokesman for the agency. Known for drug dealing and gun running, renegade motorcycle clubs have laid claim to domains throughout the Sunshine State.
The Outlaws remain the alpha club, especially in South Florida. The Dirty White Boys have a clubhouse in Davie. And the Black Pistons have one near Riviera Beach.The Warlocks call Orlando their base. The Pagans, a rival, have a chapter in Pasco County, while the Los Angeles-based The Mongols have been known to operate in the Tampa Bay area. Such gangs, authorities say, have been behind recent barroom brawls in Key West and Daytona Beach.
During Key West’s annual Peterson Poker Run in September, more than a dozen bikers wearing colors of the Outlaws got into a fight at the Rumor lounge. The owner and an employee each suffered a swollen eye and a bloody lip, police told the Key Noter. A Hillsborough County firefighter was a suspected member of the Outlaws wanted for participating in that fight, according to the Tampa Bay Times. “We don’t have much day-to-day gang activity but in the last few years, we started to see an increase in biker gang participation at events like the Peterson Poker Run,” Ramsay said.
“We started to see people riding in their gang colors, with their jackets on, and that was something we hadn’t seen in the past.” A skull atop two crossed pistons is the insignia of the Outlaws. They have been celebrating “Biking and Brotherhood” since 1935 when the club was formed at a bar on Old Route 66 near Chicago, according to the club’s website, which sells T-shirts and patches that say “Snitches are a dying breed.
” The club boasts chapters across the nation as well as in Ireland, Japan, Norway and Russia. As many as 80 Outlaws wore their “gang colors” during Daytona’s annual Bike Week in March, according to the The Daytona Beach News-Journal. And just last month, “Louie da Lip,” an Outlaw member legally known as Christopher Keating, 59, died after he was repeatedly stabbed in the back in a Daytona Beach bar.
Police think Keating’s killers belonged to the Pagan Motorcycle Club, The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported. A Pompano Beach man was identified as president of the Black Pistons Motorcycle Club near Riviera Beach when he was charged with punching a woman last year. The assault happened outside a clubhouse in the 3600 block of East Industrial Way in unincorporated Riviera Beach, according to the Palm Beach Post.
Broward County is home to a clubhouse belonging to the Dirty White boys, an auxiliary club of the Outlaws. A man who federal agents say is a white supremacist bragged that he killed more than 20 people and “left a trail of dead hookers” from Phoenix to South Florida; he was arrested late last year hiding out in a trailer behind the Davie clubhouse in the 4300 block of Davie Road. When biker gang members try to establish dominance, they force rival gangs to take off their colors or jackets.
That is one way gangs try to claim they are in control of an area, experts say. And that’s how the Leesburg execution of a Kingsmen member played out, according to arrest reports released Wednesday. As many as 15 Outlaws members ambushed David “Gutter” Donovan, who was attending the Leesburg Bikefest, at a Circle K gas station. They held a knife to his throat and demanded that he shed his Kingsmen Motorcycle Club jacket.
He refused. The Outlaws forced Donovan to his knees and shot him in the back several times. He died two weeks later, according to the reports. “We’re working our case. It’s still active and ongoing,” Lt. Joe Iozzi, spokesman for the Leesburg Police Department, said Friday. “We issued four warrants; two people have been arrested, two of those are still outstanding, and we’re still trying to identify the shooter.
” He declined to speak to “the larger scope of gang activity” throughout the state. “Their motives are not pertinent to our case,” Iozzi said. “We don’t let people beat people up and shoot them no matter what their motive or reasoning is.” [email protected], 954-356-4542 or Twitter @talanezSee Also: Motorcycle Permit Indiana
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DENVER — One of the nation’s fastest-growing motorcycle clubs is composed largely of military, police officers and prison guards. It also embraces the regalia and traditions of outlaw biker gangs — a choice that has provoked deadly clashes with other groups. The Iron Order club insists it is a law-abiding, charitable brotherhood of family men who just like to ride. But experts say its members are increasingly becoming entangled in violence with other biker groups, blurring the line between professionals who are sworn to uphold the law and a biker culture with a long history of criminal activity.
“It’s almost like they are playing dress-up on the weekend and acting out what their perception of an outlaw gang is,” said David Devereaux, a spokesman for the National Council of Clubs, which represents hundreds of motorcycle groups. “They create aggressive situations with other motorcycle clubs in opposition to the culture.” The latest skirmish happened Saturday, when the Iron Order and the Mongols motorcycle club clashed in a brawl that left a Mongols member dead.
The two groups blame each other for inciting the violence at the Colorado Motorcycle Expo, a gathering of biker groups from across the country. Police are not sure what set off the fight, which left seven other people shot, stabbed or beaten. More than one person fired a weapon during the melee, including a Colorado Department of Corrections officer who wore patches that clearly identified him as a member of the Iron Order.
Paramedics transport a man after the violence on Jan. 30 at the Colorado Motorcycle Expo.Getty Images No one has been arrested, adding to the frustration of other groups that complain Iron Order members pick fights, then use their law enforcement connections to avoid prosecution. It’s not uncommon for law enforcement to join motorcycle clubs. Some groups exist exclusively for police, such as the Blue Knights, which has almost 20,000 members and performs community services year-round.
A source of friction is that the Iron Order consists of both law enforcement and other professions, and it adopts emblems more common to well-established gangs, according to experts. The Iron Order says its members have lawfully defended themselves during confrontations provoked by other groups that feel threatened by the club’s rapid growth and its open disregard for time-honored rules of motorcycle culture.
An Iron Order recruit fatally shot a member of the Black Pistons motorcycle club during a June 2014 fight outside a bar in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. The shooter said members of the other group attacked him and broke his nose. Three people were shot in a February 2015 gun battle with bikers affiliated with the Bandidos gang. A fourth person was hit over the head with a baton. A few years earlier, in 2011, an Iron Order member was stabbed by another gang member in South Carolina.
And a 2014 melee at a Baltimore strip club involved Iron Order members who were attacked by riders from the Iron Horsemen group who wielded flashlights, hammers, bats and knives. Accounts of some of those episodes were contained in a 2014 report from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives describing the involvement of the military in motorcycle gangs. The report described Iron Order as one of the nation’s fastest-growing clubs that continues to expand into territories normally controlled by well-established outlaw gangs despite the violence.
The ATF says the club “infuriated” the most notorious motorcycle gangs, such as the Hells Angels and Pagans, by wearing a three-piece patch arrangement with a crescent-shaped bottom patch bearing the name of a state. The bottom “rocker” historically belonged to outlaw gangs, called “one-percenters.” But Iron Order never sought their permission to use it and took colors already claimed by other clubs, said John C.
Whitfield, an Iron Order attorney and a member himself. Iron Order members outside the Colorado Motorcycle Expo on Jan. 30. The Iron Order group formed in 2004, seeking the mystique of outlaw gangs without the crime, he said. The founders liked the motorcycle fellowship, which reminded them of the camaraderie of a military unit or a police department. “We wanted to kind of change the dynamics of the motorcycle world,” Whitfield said.
A lot of members like the three-piece patch for its “cool factor,” he said. “There’s a little bit of danger that kicks in, and it kind of makes these weekend warriors feel like they are a little bit dangerous. But we’re not.” There has been “a ton of pushback” from other groups as a result, Whitfield said. Other police clubs also wear three-piece patches but have no trouble with other groups, said Stephen Stubbs, an attorney for the Mongols.
“It’s not about the patches. It’s about Iron Order living out its ‘Sons of Anarchy’ fantasy, starting fights and causing trouble,” Stubbs said, referring to a cable television show about an outlaw motorcycle club. The Iron Order group usually goes out of its way to avoid crime, even requiring its members to have concealed-carry weapons permits as a way to vet for convicted felons, said Steve Cook, executive director of the Midwest Outlaw Motorcycle Gang Investigators Association, which offers training for police agencies.
Iron Order members typically cooperate with law enforcement, while their outlaw counterparts swear against doing so, he said. Yet their disparate membership, which includes people from all professions, seems to invite hostility. “Most people who ride know not to pretend to be a one-percenter if you’re not truly a one-percenter. It’s a good way to get attacked,” said John Risenhoover, a former ATF agent who has investigated biker gangs.
“It’s like you’re out trying to pick a fight.” Share this: