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Old 02-08-2006, 09:59 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Vagos M/C Difficulties in Sacramento Area

This is offered without comment for its informational value. The Vagos M/C started in Southern California and apparently formed a chapter in the Sacramento area a few years back. I printed it out rather than giving a link since it requires a password. ================================================== ==

Authorities clamp down on bikers
By Elizabeth Hume -- Bee Staff Writer
Published 2:15 am PST Wednesday, February 8, 2006
Story appeared in Metro section, Page B1
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Members of Vagos Motorcycle Club and their associates are involved in at least three Sacramento Superior Court trials this month.
The prosecutions resulted from the most sweeping investigation of a California motorcycle club in recent years, authorities said. Vagos members have been accused of involvement in drugs sales, firearm violations, vehicle thefts and violence.


Three investigations led by the California Department of Justice and the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department since 2004 have led to the arrests of more than 20 of the club's members and 38 associates, authorities said. The District Attorney's Office has secured 31 convictions.

"I don't know of many cases where this many gang members have been taken off at one time," said Supervising Deputy District Attorney Dale Kitching, who prosecuted many of the cases.

William Edward Stratton, a Northern California Vagos leader, appeared in court Tuesday.

Stratton, 60, was arrested on suspicion of being a convicted felon in possession of an illegal firearm and ammunition and participation in a criminal street gang. He is being held in the Sacramento County jail in lieu of $1 million bail.

A trial for an alleged murder-for-hire plot involving the the motorcycle club is set to begin later this month. The murder never occurred, but the target of the alleged plot also faces court proceedings this month on allegations of sales and distribution of drugs and firearms.

Meanwhile, a trial involving a former California Department of Corrections computer security analyst suspected of assisting the Vagos will start later this month or in early March.

Vagos members say they are the victims of a "modern-day witch hunt." They insist the club is a social group and not the organized criminal network described by law enforcement officials.

"Motorcycle clubs are about as American as apple pie," said James Cross, 34, former president of the Placer County Vagos. "It's about riding motorcycles together. Spending time as a family, a pack, a club, a tribe."

Cross, another Vagos member and a prospective club member are accused of conspiring to kill Jason Jordan, a fellow member. Cross said he is not guilty.

"The club frowns on criminal activity," Cross said in an interview in the Sacramento County jail, where he awaits trial. "The moment I was arrested, (club members) turned their back on me."

Vagos members favor the color green and their logo features Loki, the Norse god of mischief.

The club has a strict hierarchy with chapters, presidents and officers, said Sacramento County Sheriff's Detective Sgt. Scott Kolb, a lead investigator in the latest cases.

Cross joined the Vagos about seven years ago after his marriage broke up. He said he needed camaraderie and found brotherhood in the motorcycle club.

He said his grandfather, Marrion Pyle, owned Orangevale Motorcycle Center and was an honorary member of the Dirt Diggers North Motorcycle Club.

Cross said he joined the Vagos through a friend in Southern California and brought the club's concept north, founding a chapter near Sacramento about six years ago.

That coincided with a period of expansion by the club. Police authorities estimate there are more than 50 Vagos members in the Sacramento area.

"In the Sacramento area, they are the largest outlaw motorcycle gang, as far as members are concerned," said Mike Hudson, special agent supervisor with the California Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement. "I'm not saying that every one of their members is a criminal, but what I will say is that their organization is a criminal organization and every one of those members belong to a criminal organization."

Cross conceded that the growth created problems.

Undesirables have joined the ranks, he said.

"They don't scrutinize their membership enough," Cross said. "There's a huge turnover rate. They're not organized and the management is poor."

Successful prosecutions of Vagos members have allowed authorities to seek enhanced penalties under legal provisions designed to stop organized street gangs. The enhancement can increase sentences for convicted members.

Vagos bylaws prohibit anyone with a criminal street gang conviction from associating with the club, authorities say.

Accordingly, Vagos members are quick to argue against being prosecuted as criminal street gang members.

"It's stereotyping," Cross said, "guilt by association."

Prosecutors said the evidence is clear. Three investigations of the Vagos since 2004 have resulted in the confiscation of 32 pounds of methamphetamine, 100 pounds of marijuana, $5,000 worth of steroids, $220,000 in currency, 107 firearms, 20,000 rounds of ammunition, 20 Harley-Davidson motorcycles, 11 vehicles, two boats and a motor home.

Cross said he is looking forward to his trial. He pulled out photographs of his new wife - whom he married about a year ago while in jail - her 4-year-old daughter and their two dogs.

He said he has no desire to rejoin a motorcycle club.

"I cannot afford to ever put myself in this position again," Cross said.
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Old 02-08-2006, 02:23 PM   #2 (permalink)
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"Motorcycle clubs are about as American as apple pie," said James Cross, 34, former president of the Placer County Vagos. "It's about riding motorcycles together. Spending time as a family, a pack, a club, a tribe."

Cross, another Vagos member and a prospective club member are accused of conspiring to kill Jason Jordan, a fellow member. Cross said he is not guilty.

"The club frowns on criminal activity," Cross said in an interview in the Sacramento County jail, where he awaits trial. "The moment I was arrested, (club members) turned their back on me."




I thought they joined clubs to have people beside them "no matter what", getting arrested and having the club turn their back on him isn't really living up to that. Of course planning to *kill* a fellow member isn't really living up to the ideal either.



Three investigations of the Vagos since 2004 have resulted in the confiscation of 32 pounds of methamphetamine, 100 pounds of marijuana, $5,000 worth of steroids, $220,000 in currency, 107 firearms, 20,000 rounds of ammunition, 20 Harley-Davidson motorcycles, 11 vehicles, two boats and a motor home.



I don't know why the motorcycles/ vehicles are mentioned, I'd think a MOTORCYCLE club would be expected to have MOTORCYCLES. The meth and large amount of cash strongly suggests drug sales, but of course the club does not condone, and obviously is not aware of what some of it's members are doing. They are regular guys with a few bad apples thrown in, as in any large organization.
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Old 02-08-2006, 06:51 PM   #3 (permalink)
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It's something, really ... in Lexington, Kentucky, a leading defense attorney was recently arrested for manufacturing and distributing meth, but you don't see them calling his lawfirm and partners a street gang.
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Old 02-08-2006, 10:29 PM   #4 (permalink)
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[



I don't know why the motorcycles/ vehicles are mentioned, I'd think a MOTORCYCLE club would be expected to have MOTORCYCLES. [/QUOTE]


Don't know any personally,but I know enough not to leave my bike unlocked or unattended when the vagos are around.Other than that,I have no problem with them.I've heard stories but never seen em cause any trouble.
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Old 02-08-2006, 11:21 PM   #5 (permalink)
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My guess is the bikes and vehicles mentioned were stolen or somehow illegal. Why would they mention how many car/bikes were parked there. Nt defending or condemning. But from the context, I would ask why they bring up the bikes. That part is poorly written. They should say XX stolen.. Maybe I am wrong too. either way article should be mroe clear.
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Old 02-09-2006, 05:40 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I would say the bikes/vehicles were mentioned because they were confiscated under property siezure laws. The state can confiscate any vehicle or property used in a crime or purchased with money obtained through a criminal activity.
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Old 02-09-2006, 09:13 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Just called my buddy, he is an officer in this very chapter. He says it really is just a few guys (bad apples) that brought all this heat. Unfortunately, their leader Cross is one of them but the criminal activities were not a club associated thing and were condemmed by membership. So, these few bad boys really blew up the MC when their activities had nothing to do with the MC.

Kinda like if me and JamieWG and berserker were all dealing in stolen thingamajiggys and the man did an investigation and busted us and then said that EVERYONE at VTF was in a criminal organization.

It's all BS!!!
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Old 02-09-2006, 09:23 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JamieWG
I would say the bikes/vehicles were mentioned because they were confiscated under property siezure laws. The state can confiscate any vehicle or property used in a crime or purchased with money obtained through a criminal activity.

I think that's probably correct. It's not unusual for the police to take everything in sight with an attempt to make a civil seizure and later forfeiture. Matter of fact, I believe they can do this prior to a conviction based only on the nature of the other items found.
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Old 02-09-2006, 10:03 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adlerx
Just called my buddy, he is an officer in this very chapter. He says it really is just a few guys (bad apples) that brought all this heat. Unfortunately, their leader Cross is one of them but the criminal activities were not a club associated thing and were condemmed by membership. So, these few bad boys really blew up the MC when their activities had nothing to do with the MC.

Kinda like if me and JamieWG and berserker were all dealing in stolen thingamajiggys and the man did an investigation and busted us and then said that EVERYONE at VTF was in a criminal organization.

It's all BS!!!
So your buddy who's an officer didn't suspect their "leader" might be up to something. When did the condeming start, I'm assuming after the arrest. I can hang out at a bar for a few nights and figure out who the speedfreaks and dope dealers are. But these guys who are riding together, partying together and shareing a "close camaraderie" can't figure it out. Bullshit. I would think that after the first hundred pounds of crank were found, I'd be looking at my "brothers" and thinking, I wonder why his nose is always running or he's always ducking into the back room.
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Old 02-09-2006, 01:15 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by csoday
So your buddy who's an officer didn't suspect their "leader" might be up to something. When did the condeming start, I'm assuming after the arrest. I can hang out at a bar for a few nights and figure out who the speedfreaks and dope dealers are. But these guys who are riding together, partying together and shareing a "close camaraderie" can't figure it out. Bullshit. I would think that after the first hundred pounds of crank were found, I'd be looking at my "brothers" and thinking, I wonder why his nose is always running or he's always ducking into the back room.
Maybe they'd know, maybe not. In two unrelated cases, people I work with were recently busted for meth. One girl was manufacturing and another guy got caught receiving it in the mail. Everyone at work was amazed and no one would have ever suspected this was going on. That includes people who hung out with them, partied with them and worked with them.

As for the Vagos, sure, some of them had to know, but what can you do about it? and if the other guy gets caught, does that mean you should be guilty by association? "Authorities clamp down on bikers" is the headline. In Lexington, Ky, a leading defense attorney was recently busted for manufacturing. I didn't see any headline saying "Authorities clamp down on lawyers."

Is the city of Sacramento any safer now? I asked a question on another thread - How many people do you know who've been the victim of a crime commited by an MC? .. Personally, I don't know anyone. I have been known to associate with some patch holders and I came out of it alive. I do know that just about every city in the USA has an area where you cannot walk down the street after dark without fear of being assaulted, robbed, or (if you are female) raped. You can't even park your car in these areas, let alone a bike. Is a multi-million dollar under-cover operation against MCs really a good way to spend taxpayer money? I think if a cop drove around for a week he could probably score 32 lbs of meth from street corner dealers and save about two years overtime pay.

I don't want to sound like I am going off on this, or that I think MCs are innocent little angels. They aren't, and one thing I hate more than anything is a bike thief. It just annoys me that bikers become easy targets when the mayor or police chief needs some favorable press. 100 lbs of weed? Well give that officer a promotion! I would guess that 90% of the population has smoked weed at least once - and yes - that doobie was once part of a bundle that probably included 100lbs. But the big bad bikers got rousted, and we can all breathe a little easier now. Just don't park your car on the street downtown.
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Old 02-09-2006, 03:42 PM   #11 (permalink)
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There is a difference between an *individual* criminal though and a criminal *organization*. For example, while a streetcorner ne'er-do-well might be a murderer, rapist, etc., no matter how bad he is he does NOT present the same threat to society that a multiBillion dollar drug gang does, in terms of the numbers of innocent people they can harm, affect or intimidate.

I think this is why an MC will get more press than an individual attorney dopehead, just like "the mafia" or "drug lord" will get more press than a farmer cooking meth in their barn. A criminal *organization* has much more wealth, lawyers, and criminal influence than individuals, and therefore is a much better target for a large dollar investigation and prosecution, as the value to society of having their criminal behavior stopped will be that much higher.
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