Sunday, July 25, 2010

ABC Radio Network Series: "FBI Washington"

"Modernized Bikers"
By Clint Thomas

ANNCR.: (Appropriate opening remarks.)

MR. BAKER: Thanks, George.

MR. ANSBRO: Mr. Baker, over the past 40 years or so, a
subculture has emerged in this country that's
been both ostracized and romanticized by society.
Its members are regarded as extremely violent,
openly contemptuous of law and order, and largely
misunderstood. I'm referring to outlaw motorcycle
gangs. The FBI has a strong interest in these
renegade bikers and their activities, and, in
fact, considers them a major organized crime
problem today. Why is this?

MR. BAKER: You used a key word when you said "organized,"
George. A common misconception of these outlaw
bikers is that they almost literally live on
their motorcycles, traveling in relatively small
and loosely knit groups leading an independent
and nomadic existence. While only a small
percentage of motorcyclists in the United States
belong to outlaw motorcycle gangs, the FBI
estimates that their combined membership is in
the thousands. Beyond numbers, however, the bikers
who deal in criminal activities have become much
more sophisticated in recent years.

MR. ANSBRO: In what ways?

MR. BAKER: Well, in one respect, the range of illegal
activities by outlaw motorcycle gangs is more
pervasive than you might first imagine. Throughout
the nation, these gangs have participated in
narcotics manufacturing and distribution,
extortion, prostitution, murder and many other
offenses on a large scale -- generating millions
of dollars. We've learned that many outlaw
motorcycle groups invest their illegal funds in
legitimate business ventures.

MR. ANSBRO: What types of businesses do they use?

MR. BAKER: There are a variety of enterprises outlaw bikers
employ as fronts for their illegal activities.
Motorcycle repair shops and massage parlors come
to mind as a couple of examples.

MR. ANSBRO: So, the stereotype of the outlaw biker as a
tattooed, leather-jacketed tough guy isn't all
that accurate?

MR. BAKER: No, George -- nowadays, a motorcycle gang member
can be seen wearing a three-piece suit and run
what appears on the surface to be a respectable
business. The stereotype of the undereducated
outlaw biker is invalid, too: Many outlaw gang
members have college degrees in such fields as
accounting, computer technology and chemistry.
One outlaw motorcycle group has had doctors,
lawyers and other professional people on its
roster. Another group was found to maintain its
own laboratories to manufacture methamphetamines
and other narcotics. Evidence even indicates that
another group has kept funds in Swiss bank
accounts.

MR. ANSBRO: Aren't some outlaw motorcycle gangs now using
computers, Mr. Baker?

MR. BAKER: Yes, they are. To further illustrate the
sophistication of today's outlaw motorcycle gangs,
FBI investigations have turned up computer
operations with such things as software packages
for financial operations and data on the group
members. Add to that, George, that many outlaw
motorcycle gangs maintain security with the most
modern technical monitoring equipment to scan for
law enforcement communications frequencies. So,
you can see why we think these groups have gone
high-tech.

MR. ANSBRO: Then the outlaw motorcycle groups are a very
modern and very present threat to society.

MR. BAKER: Unfortunately, yes, they are, on several levels.
As you mentioned at the start of the program,
George, outlaw motorcycle gangs have traditionally
been known as ruthless and violent individuals
who are generally disdainful of law and law
enforcement. Along with an almost fraternal code
of silence among the various motorcycle gangs,
these characteristics make them a significant
and menacing segment of organized crime in the
country today. Their modern-day tools and tactics
have widened the scope of their illegal
activities, and, as a consequence, they've made
themselves a much higher priority with the FBI.
Today we're more dedicated than ever to curtailing
illegal acts by organized groups such as the
outlaw bikers.

MR. ANSBRO: A series of coordinated investigations of the
outlaw bikers across the country in the last
two or three years shows that they are into
racketeering and narcotics. It's clear the FBI
is making headway in this area, Mr. Baker.
Thank you for being with us today, and we'll
see you next week.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, George.

ANNCR.: (Appropriate closing remarks.)