You may be surprised to learn that many businesses in America are run by or have an association with criminal gangs.
The Hells Angels is “a criminal gang on six continents, trafficking drugs and guns and engaging in money laundering, extortion and mortgage fraud,” according to law enforcement officials speaking to the New York Times.
However, according to John Ciccone, a special agent for the A.T.F. in Los Angeles, the Hells Angels operates like a major crime ring, with vast resources to fuel their empire.
“In my experience working street and motorcycle gangs, the Hells Angels operate like a criminal organization with a global infrastructure and a lot of money they can generate from members worldwide,” said Ciccone, who has worked on gangs for more than two decades.
He added: “If you go up against the Hells Angels to prove they are a racketeering enterprise, they have the resources to fight tooth and nail and all the way to the end. You do not usually see those dynamics in street gangs like the Crips and Bloods.”
Murder among Angels
At a meeting of Hells Angels in Arizona, a member was ordered to find some girls, according to the Mercury News. He returned with Cynthia Garcia. As she partied with the Angels, the 44-year-old mother of six began “talking trash” about the club and its members. When the wisecracks kept flying, the Hells Angels allegedly started beating Garcia, an arrest affidavit written by a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent claimed. They allegedly stomped her with their boots as she lay on the clubhouse floor. They loaded the semiconscious woman into the trunk of a car. They motored off into the Arizona desert.
Garcia’s body was found on Halloween. She had been stabbed nearly 30 times, and her killers had tried – and failed – to cut off her head.
Two years after the murder, a federal investigation called Operation Black Biscuit resulted in more than a dozen Hells Angels members indicted on federal criminal charges including drug trafficking and conspiracy. The investigation also prompted murder charges against two Hells Angels associates for Garcia’s death.
According to CTV News, most Hells Angels members own businesses. “75 percent of members had companies in their names,” the news outlet reported. They invested in real estate, business services, strip bars, stripper placement agencies, restaurants, bars, MMA events and motorcycle shops.
“The bikers own the companies for the purpose of laundering money and as a safeguard against investigations into their illegal revenues,” the article stated. This would ensure that members “had the legit-looking incomes as a way to guard against police investigation.”
Notably, the article stated that “In spite of their participation in the business world, the bikers have maintained their habits of bullying and intimidation.”
One company founded by a member of the Hells Angels is Lunarpages, a web hosting company.
Perhaps these companies are not aware of Lunarpages scandalous roots?
The Orange County Register said that the founder or Lunarpages, Ron Riddle, “was kicked out of high school in the 11th grade.” After he joined the Hells Angels, he founded the hosting company after he “bought a couple of books, and eventually took to the web himself to learn how to do what he wanted to do.”
Sensitive Data in the Hands of Hells Angels
According to Fortune, “The ATF and FBI say some (Hells Angels members) have worked at telephone companies, major utilities, and even police departments, where they are suspected of providing intelligence for the club.
The web hosting Lunarpages potentially keeps sensitive information it keeps on its clients.
According to Best Web Hosting Review, Lunarpages is among the worst web hosting companies, and states: Why would anyone want their website hosted by a company that was founded by a member of this violent gang?”
Intimidation and Worse
According to Fortune Magazine, if you run into the Hells Angels, “you have reason to be nervous. Federal law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), say that outlaw bikers, with over 300 clubs, 5,000 members, and at least 10,000 regular hangers-on, are one of the nation’s largest organized criminal networks.”
“The feds believe the Hells Angels and the other large outlaw gangs earn up to $1 billion a year worldwide from drug dealing, prostitution, gunrunning, theft, extortion, and murder,” the article stated.
Anthony Tait, who worked undercover for the FBI as a member of the Hells Angels, said, ”I saw countless instances of narcotics use and sales, rape, felony battery, petty theft, grand theft, weapons violations of all kinds, and extortion. I also heard murders being planned and descriptions of murders already committed.”
But after being battered by a series of investigations that included Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) prosecutions, the Angels are building back up again.
“Police say that the chief moneymaker for many Angels is manufacturing and distributing drugs, particularly methamphetamine, or meth,” according to Fortune. “Bikers dominate the meth business which government sources estimate is worth several hundred million dollars a year.”
The Angels’ colorful ferocity and independence have won them the sometime friendship of many celebrities. Music stars Willie Nelson, Bo Diddley, and Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead have all hung out with them. Journalist Hunter S. Thompson rode with the Angels in the mid-1960s until he got on their nerves and they beat him up. Tough guy actor Mickey Rourke used to pal around with them until he unwisely gave them two Harley-Davidson Sportsters — lightweight models considered ”girl bikes” in the club. After that the relationship soured. For years the Angels reportedly had a contract out on the life of Mick Jagger, the result of a falling-out over a 1969 Rolling Stones concert where a Hells Angel hired as a bodyguard was accused of having murdered a spectator. Some evidence suggests the contract was terminated after the Stones paid the Angels $50,000.
The Hells Angels are much more that a bunch of guys riding on Harleys. According to Wikipedia, Hells Angels members “carry out widespread violent crimes.”
“This is a wake-up call” one business executive said, who chose to stay anonymous for fear of retaliation. “It’s time to look behind the curtain and find out who runs the companies you do business with.”