Criminal Biker Gangs in South Florida

Florida, Outlaw Motorcycle Club, outlaw motorcycle gangs

**edited 6/28/17

Catchy title isn’t it? Of course, that’s because fear mongering works! Basically, the same title as Dan Sullivan’s article from the Tampa Bay Tribune that was published in the Miami Herald. After reading the article, I realized it was more of the same from the media: fear mongering based on little to no facts and endless assumptions mixed-in with “buzz words.” It reminded me of when politicians speak: lots is said and nothing is said all at the same time.

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The article begins with: “In the 1980s and ’90s, the Outlaws Motorcycle Club was the alpha biker gang in Florida, responsible for drug dealing and gun-running, decapitations and torture.”

Really? Thirty years ago? Fortunately or unfortunately, the 80’s and 90’s in Florida, especially south Florida, is very well documented. Hundreds of books have been written about the “decade of excess” by all of the players including the blockbuster movie Scarface with Al Pacino in the role of  the drug dealer we all love; Tony Montana.

As of lately, the 80’s has been resurrected with the award winning documentary of Cocaine Cowboys. This was South Florida’s darkest times. Over 100,000 “marielitos” were thrown into Miami overnight. The Colombians were pushing cocaine like never before, and during the recession of the Reagan era, it wasn’t long before cocaine flowed like the “cuba libres.” I think the best way to look back at the 80’s in Miami is to narrow it down to those that were not involved drug dealing since that list is shorter than those that were. Sad, but true. Let’s move on.

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“But after the massacre last week in Waco, when a battle involving as many as six biker gangs resulted in nine deaths and 170 arrests, a disquieting truth emerged: Biker gangs remain dangerous and widespread, including here in the Sunshine State.”

Massacre? Okay, I admit, I had to go online and confirm the definition of massacre. “To kill unnecessarily and indiscriminately, especially a large number of persons.”

You are right; a massacre did take place but the ones “massacred” where the members of motorcycle clubs. But, since that is followed up with “a disquieting truth emerged: Biker gangs remain dangerous and widespread, including here in the Sunshine State,” then I am guessing that they are trying to implicate the clubs in the massacre. Even the cover photo for this post from CNN implies the bikers were in a shootout with each other.

The nine deaths which the article doesn’t elaborate on where club members that were shot and killed by the Waco P.D. Furthermore, no facts have yet been released that the “biker gangs” retaliated against the police or bystanders. Actually, the facts known so far state the opposite.

To make matters worse, why is the term “gang” continuously being used. In a prior post, it is clear that per Florida Statute, “gang” is the wrong terminology but “gangs” sound scarier than “motorcycle clubs.” The whole paragraph uses the “buzz words” cleverly while sneaking in that the “biker gangs remain dangerous…” even though based on the facts so far of what has occurred in Waco, the evidence speaks to the contrary.

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“They have staked out turf across Florida.” Okay, so they are located throughout Florida. More “buzz words.”

“The Outlaws are still the dominant club, strongest in South Florida and with chapters in Tampa and St. Petersburg. The Warlocks have a base in Orlando, and claim the eastern part of the state. The Pagans, a rival gang, have a chapter in Pasco County. The Mongols, a Los Angeles gang, have also been known to operate in the Tampa Bay area.”

Again, locations. I especially like the part “been known to operate in the Tampa Bay area.” Operate what? A charity? A medical clinic? What are they operating? It’s not clear nor will it be, but again, the key words are used and it tries to imply something spooky and scary. Here is my favorite part: “The big difference today, experts say, is that the gangs are more secretive about their illicit activities. And smarter.”

Criminals are secretive? Isn’t the most important part of being a criminal is making sure they are not caught? There are similar lines used throughout the article. “The gangs are no longer as open and boastful about their violent criminal acts.”  That’s how they plant the seed in your mind in case you think for yourself and say: “well, I haven’t seen anything going on in years.” It’s the boogie man approach. The boogie man still exists even though you haven’t seen him.

Invisible will always be scarier than visible; that’s why we all fear ghosts. Reminds me of Fidel Castro’s propaganda with the invisible war he has been fighting against the United States for over five decades. Talk about creating paranoia. By the way, how “secretive” can clubs be? They wear vests with the same club logos. M.C.’s are very easy to spot; criminals- not so easy because they don’t wear the same clothes or identify themselves as such.

As to being “smarter,” then that implies they were dumber before. Don’t worry, the bikers’ intelligence will be insulted again.

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“And many of their members have regular day jobs, running tattoo shops, strip clubs or tow yards. A few are said to be lawyers or even doctors.”
This sentence could not be easier to discredit.

First of all, I have to reply to the use of the word “lawyer.” To be clear, the term lawyer and attorney is used interchangeably all the time, however, a “lawyer” is not licensed to practice law, while an attorney is. That aside, how difficult it is to become a lawyer or attorney, and especially a doctor, and then decide that life is better off by being part of a “criminal gang?”

Who are these lawyers and doctors? Why not name them? Most likely because they do not exist. Again, the boogie man is everywhere; he has infiltrated quietly into society and now holds “regular day jobs” including those of the professions we trust the most. The next time you see your doctor, be aware that is a cover for what he really is; a dangerous “gang” member that makes his “money selling drugs and moving guns.”

All we are missing is SAMCRO. It is unlikely lawyers and doctors, and by the way, noticed the word is being used in plural format, would be part of a “criminal gang.” As Don Vito Corleone said in the movie Godfather: “a lawyer with a briefcase can steal more than a thousand men with guns.” Just ask my trial advocacy professor in law school, Scott Rothstein.

However, I am sure that there are doctors and lawyers that are members of clubs, but that is because the primary purpose of the club is to have a brotherhood, an extension of family who share a common bond and passion in motorcycle riding. Now, let’s be very clear- I am not denying that clubs have members with criminal records or have members that are part of illegal activity, but notice I say members, not “they” implying the whole club. Without doing the research, I’m guessing more attorneys and doctors are convicted every year of crimes than club members.

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“These guys are fairly savvy, believe it or not.”

This requires an “LOL.” Not too savvy, just “fairly savvy.” I guess the idea with that statement is to not make club members look intelligent, but wait- aren’t there doctors and lawyers that are part of the clubs? Aren’t they very savvy and intelligent? Make up your mind!

“The last major local biker gang spectacle was the 2001 federal racketeering trial in Tampa of Harry “Taco” Bowman, the Outlaws’ former international president. He is serving two life sentences.”

Wow- that’s it? Nothing major in 14 years? I guess because they are “fairly savvy,” they can get away with all these crimes for more than a decade and evade all the technology that law enforcement has at their disposal.

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“But gangs have still made local headlines from time to time. In 2005, federal agents raided a house on W Hillsborough Avenue in Tampa that was said to be an Outlaws clubhouse and seized boxes full of evidence. After that, the house went dark.”

Apparently, the case went dark, too. If they got convicted, mention it! This would be the opportune time to confirm everything that is being written about the clubs. Forget the fact that it was “said” to be an Outlaws Clubhouse. How could they not know? Boxes full of evidence are seized and nothing happens? Well, if the boxes of seized evidence belongs to the Outlaws M.C., then it is their clubhouse but for some reason there is even speculation on that too!

Now talk about savvy! These guys are so savvy, I mean “fairly savvy,” that boxes of evidence are seized by the government and nothing happens to them? Either the state attorney’s office is highly incompetent, or, and the most likely answer- there was nothing going on!

What there is plenty evidence of is the constant contradictions in this article. The Sheriff Deputies from both Hillsborough County and St. Petersburg Police stated they have not had any problems with them, referring to the clubs. Wait! Didn’t the article mention in the beginning that biker gangs are dangerous?

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Well, at least it gets more interesting. We all love undercover stories; James Bond type stuff. Apparently, an undercover agent was able to bring indictments against 56 members of the Sons of Silence MC! In my business, we say that prosecutors can get an indictment on a ham sandwich. The grand jury process is by far the most lopsided legal process in the criminal justice system of which the courts do not preside over, nor do defense attorneys or defendants. It is even closed to the public. So how hard is it to get an indictment? Not very. How can you lose an argument against yourself?

An indictment does not mean that a person was convicted; it only means that enough evidence exists to proceed but what happens after an indictment is much more important. Was the defendant tried? Acquitted? Convicted? In addition, let’s focus on the word “arrest.” An arrest does not mean conviction either. O.J. Simpson was arrested for double murder- but never convicted. See the importance in knowing the difference?

Now, we are being led to believe that motorcycle clubs are dangerous and they are everywhere, even though you can’t see them, but, “ATF has cut back on its efforts to infiltrate outlaw gangs. It’s too labor-intensive, and the gangs are much better at rooting out undercover agents. These days, gangs run background checks on prospective members.”

Did I just read this correctly? Labor intensive? So, what this really means is that the government is too lazy to fight crime? Wasn’t dealing with the crime wave of drugs in the 80’s more work than dealing with the clubs? I would think so. So our lives are in danger and no one wants to do anything about it because it requires too much work? Wow, these “gangs” are “fairly savvy!” They have created the perfect business model because they have no competition! Let’s focus instead on tax fraud and counterfeit cigars or whatever they are focusing on that these days that is not so “labor intensive.”

At least the rest of the article attempts credibility by interviewing a former club member. Just one whose facts are not substantiated, but, still speaks highly of clubs and does not use the term “gangs.”

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The article ends with a list “motorcycle gangs” in Florida. Trust me, there are a lot more clubs than those mentioned but he must have obtained his information from the documentaries aired on cable network television. Don’t worry, if you missed those documentaries, there will be airing a lot more now in light of Waco.

Paying attention to the Waco incident has really opened my eyes on how  half-truths are spread by the spin doctors. Research and fact digging just gets in the way.

Bottom line, fear mongering works and happy feel good stories do not. Unfortunately, the feel good stories are rarely exaggerated, but the fear mongering stories always are.

In the meantime, be safe out there because the boogie man is still out there. If you don’t believe me, just ask the media.

M.C. Atty

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