Reporter Amanda Baumfeld wrote an extensive story detailing the history of the Mongols Motorcycle gang in Montebello and beyond. Here’s an excerpt:
The Mongols Motorcycle Club began in the 1970s as a group of men with a passion for motorcycles and partying before turning into a violent criminal enterprise, officials said.
Federal law enforcement officials attempted to dismantle that enterprise Tuesday when they arrested suspected Mongols members and their associates in a sweep targeting the outlaw motorcycle gang.
But the Mongols were not always an outlaw gang, according to former member Anthony Vodnik, 60.
Vodnik, also known as “Snake,” is an original Mongol. He served with the motorcycle club for nearly 37 years. Disagreeing about the direction the club had taken, Vodnik retired in January.
“It’s a good club,” Vodnik said. “But some of us older members want to bring it back to how it used to be; we are tired over this war over drugs and who controls drugs.”
Officials say the gang was formed by a group of Latino men who were banned from joining the Hells Angels because of their heritage.
The single homicide alleged in the federal indictment against members of the Mongols Motorcycle Club occurred on Valentine’s Day last year.
The victim apparently was Leon Huddleston, a homeless man who was beaten to death with a pool cue at a bar in Lancaster.
Here’s a recap of the beating from a Web site known as the Antelope Valley War on Gangs and Crime.
Meanwhile, members of the outlaw motorcycle gang are expected to appear in federal court later today.
* Here’s what Jill Levoy wrote in the Homicide Report last year following Huddleston’s death:
Leon Huddleston, a 25-year-old white man, was beaten with a pool cue at 227 W. Pillsbury St. in Lancaster and died at 7:10 p.m. Feb. 22.
Huddleston, described by police as a local transient, was playing pool at Young’s Bar and Grill when two men came in, walked straight up to him, and hit him with a pool cue. Huddleston fell behind the bar. No argument or brawl preceded the attack. Detectives say they don’t know the motive. Huddleston “didn’t even have a chance to defend himself,” said Sgt. Jeff Cochran of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau.
The suspects fled, and a handful of bar patrons who witnessed the attack also left the scene. Huddleston lived for a week on life support before dying. Los Angeles County supervisors have offered a $10,000 reward for information in this case. Anyone with tips is asked to call detectives at (323) 890-5635.
An outlaw motorcycle gang member is led on a perp walk by officers involved in a RICO bust of members of the Mongols Motorcycle gang.
A person is brought in to the Montebello Police Department after many
arrests overnight during an investigation conducted by the Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), L.A. Sheriff Dept.,
Montebello Police and La Vegas Police. Over 160 federal search
warrants and 110 federal arrest warrants were served today on members
and associates of the Mongols Outlaw Motorcycle Gang nationwide.
(SGVN/Staff Photo by Raul Roa/SVCity)
They are all mentioned in the block buster 177-page federal indictment against members of the outlaw motorcycle gang known as the Mongols. The indictment details drug deals, beatings, a war with La Eme, murder and attempted murder.
to the indictment for your reading pleasure.
This comes from the History Channel’s Gangland series. West Covina resident Ruben “Doc” Cavazos is interviewed about the gang. Cavazos was one of several dozens arrested in a federal sweep of Mongols members.
This comes from a hand-out reporter Emma Gallegos received this morning at the Montebello Police Department:
- The investigation was handled by the ATF the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the Montebello PD and the Las Vegas Metro PD.
- ATF agents, deputies and police officers obtained 160 search warrants and 110 arrest warrants for the sweep this morning.
- 1500 cops were involved in the various searches and arrests. Warrants were served in California, Nevada, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Ohio.
- Mongols members are being charged with murder, attempted murder, assault, firearms violations, and narcotics violations. The prosecution will be a RICO case.
- The Mongols and their associates are a heavily armed and violent cang. There are approximately 600 members in the US and 400 of those memberrs are in California. The gang was recruiting street gang members.
- Among those arrested were former Mongols National President Rueben “Doc” Cavazos.
- The sweep is this second time since 2001 that the gang has been targeted by federal authorities.
Less than a week after what may have been a shooting between rival motorcycle gangs on area freeways, thousands of bikers are descending on Palm Springs this morning as part of the American Heat rally. The shooting resulted in the death of Manuel Martin, of Venice.
Here’s what FOX 11
is reporting about the rally:
No problems were reported this afternoon during the first hours of a motorcycle rally in downtown Palm Springs that is expected to draw 10,000 cyclists, a police lieutenant said.
“It looks like a good start and we have had no problems reported so far,” said Palm Springs police Lt. John Booth.
Hundreds of booths have been set up on Palm Canyon Drive — the city’s main drag — for the 2008 American Heat Motorcycle Weekend, which began at 2 p.m.
Palm Canyon Drive, from Alejo to Baristo roads, will remain shut down until 9 p.m. Sunday, said city spokeswoman Amy Blaisdell.
The event will feature stunt shows, live entertainment and motorcycle vendors.
Police Chief David Dominguez told the Desert Sun he does not expect any violence during the event, despite past conflicts in California among rival motorcycle gangs.
This is the latest in the strange and terrible saga of Manuel Martin’s’ death at the intersection of the 2 and the 210 freeways was the result of an ongoing feud between the Hell’s Angels and Mongols motorcycle clubs. Here’s Nathan McIntire’s update:
GLENDALE – Police are searching for a dark-colored car that may have been involved in the shooting death of a motorcyclist on the Glendale (2) Freeway.
An autopsy was performed on the victim Thursday, but the results were not available, authorities said.
Manuel Vincent Martin, 30, suffered a bullet wound in the chest but had no other major visible injuries, according to Los Angeles County Department of Coroner spokesman Craig Harvey.
Police confirmed Thursday that another motorcyclist riding with Martin was wearing a Mongols Motorcycle Club T-shirt. The Mongols, a biker gang that originated in Montebello in the 1970s, has been warring with the Hell’s Angels.
Gang involvement is being investigated as a possible motive in the slaying, according to Glendale Police Department Sgt. Tom Lorenz.
Several people showed up to the crime scene following the shooting, Lorenz said.
“The apparel that they were wearing indicated an association with the Mongols,” he said. “There was one individual with a Mongol tatoo.”
“The Police Department has not ruled out any outlaw biker activity that may have caused this event,” he added.
In wake of increased violence between outlaw motorcycle gangs, Palm Desert is prepping for a weekend orgy of motorcyclists to descend on the Riverside County Community, according to the Desert Sun:
Palm Springs Police Chief David Dominguez told merchants this week that while there have been recent incidents around the state between rival motorcycle gangs, he does not expect violence during this weekend’s event.
“They (the motorcycle groups) have let us know they are coming and they just want to have fun,” Dominguez said.
Earlier this year, Dominguez warned the City Council that he was concerned about rising incidents among the Mongols, Vagos and Hells Angels motorcycle gangs.
He said this week that there is always a chance that something could happen, but his department will be prepared.
There will be a heavy presence of uniformed officers throughout the weekend, as well as volunteer and off-duty law enforcement officers who will be in town showing off their own bikes, Dominguez said. Burke said he will also have security on hand to ensure a family-friendly event.
“I think we will be fine,” Dominguez said.