LOS ANGELES (CN) - A judge's order allows policemen to literally take the jacket off the back of members of the Mongol motorcyle gang, an extraordinarily violent group whose reach extends throughout the nation and into Europe.
The novel enforcement method is meant to attack the heart of the gang's identity which in turn is its means of spreading fear. "For the first time ever, we are seeking to forfeit the intellectual property of a gang," said U.S. Attorney Tom O' Brian on Tuesday.
The lengthy indictment details a horrific level of violence purposefully used to advance the reach and power of the primarily Hispanic gang that that began organizing 30 years ago in Montebello, Calif.
The bikers allied themselves with Latin street gangs in order to establish a presence across Southern California, and have organized additional chapters across North America and in Europe, according to the indictment.
A total of 79 gang members were indicted, the result of three years of undercover work by four federal agents who became "full patch" members of the Mongol gang.
Within a book's worth of detail contained in the indictment, one Mongol had won the right to tattoo the Mongol patch on his forehead after he killed two Hells Angels. Other incidents in the rivalry included Mongol members using knives to cut Hells Angel patches out of jackets worn by attendees at motorcycle shows.
The two gangs have been in a violent feud since a notorious riot between the two groups at a casino in Laughlin, Nevada in 2002.
Tuesday's sweep netted 62 arrests, a large number of weapons, and a cache of amphetamines, which was the stock and trade of the Mongols, according to prosecuters.
Criminal activity executed by the gang included murder, hate crimes against African Americans, distribution of guns and violence against ordinary citizens. For instance, in August of 2006 one of the gang members included in the indictment told an undercover officer that he and two other gang members captured a man and tortured him for three hours by breaking his knuckles with pliers, breaking his knee with a metal pipe, and then kicking him with steel-toed boots when he tried to escape.
The gang dealt in a variety of weapons, according to the 177-page indictment, selling grenades, rocket launchers and AK 47's. The document details a set of murders and severe beatings throughout Southern California outside bars in Pasadena, West Los Angeles and Palmdale of both innocent bar patrons and rival gang members.
In one incident, detailed in the indictment, Mongols beat up a patron in a bar parking lot and then ran over him with their motorcycles, and, in another, attacked attendees at a Toys for Tots event.
The gang operated its own shadow government, with a written "constitution" and "by-laws" that are enforced and regulated by high ranking members at the gang's "mother chapter" in
Members were then conducted to "wing parties" where members received different colored patches after initiation rites that included necrophilia.
Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office, said the gang's effort to promote its insignia had gone so far as to seek legal trademark status for its name. Mrozek said the judge's order granted a restraining order against use of the patch, which includes the name, but further litigation is required to determine details of the order.
"If any law enforcement officer sees a Mongol wearing his patch, he will be authorized to stop that gang member and literally take the jacket right off his back," said U.S. Attorney O'Brian. "This is the first time in the nation that we have seized the intellectual property of a gang to take away its very identity."
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