In the Northwest, it's usually "Bandidos" or "Hells Angels" you see in the same paragraph with the word "indictment." The Bandidos were hobbled by the 2005 prosecution of their national El Presidente George Wegers from Bellingham, while Angels state chapter president, Spokane-based Smilin' Rick Fabel, went off to prison last year. This time it's the Mongols, the Angels' bloody rival, who are caught in a multi-state sweep by federal officials. Though the club doesn't have an official chapter here, among those arrested in Seattle this week was Bill Shawley, 36, who appears to have a mostly misdemeanor record. He appeared in U.S. District Court on racketeering and meth distribution charges in connection with the Mongols sweep and faces up to 10 years in prison. He is in custody, headed to a federal facility in Los Angeles where the probe is centered.
The Mongol Nation, as the club refers to itself on its - of course - Web site, was formed in 1970s California and has an estimated 1,000 members scattered in a dozen states including Oregon. As the LA Times notes, this week's 177-page indictment describes a mostly Latino gang, "intolerant of African Americans," whose attacks were sometimes motivated by race. Their alleged crimes include racketeering, drug trafficking, weapons offenses and money laundering, and their weapons were guns, knives, brass knuckles, lead pipes and steel-toed boots.
The indictment, the first three pages of which list 79 gang member defendants with menacing monikers such as "Monster," "Danger" and "Violent Ed," is drawn largely from the observations of four undercover ATF agents who penetrated the gang and four current Mongols members who became paid informants for the government. Investigators also relied heavily on wiretapped telephone calls in which Mongols, usually speaking in coded language, discussed the gang's allegedly criminal operations.
Breaking up biker gangs, however, is a lot like the war on drugs. Step on it here, it pops up there. And their leaders don't necessarily go away forever. Fabel will be out sometime in the next six years and Wegers is already free.