Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Hells Angels Members Convicted of Racketeering Conspiracy for Their Dealings with Drugs, Guns, Armed Robbery, and Money Laundering

COLUMBIA, SC—United States Attorney Bill Nettles stated that 15 members and associates of the Hells Angels have been convicted of crimes related to a RICO conspiracy. Most recently, a federal jury found three members of the Hells Angels—Hells Angels Charter President Mark Baker (a/k/a Lightening) and full-patch Hells Angels members David Oiler (a/k/a Gravel Dave) and Bruce Long (a/k/a Bruce-Bruce)—guilty of racketeering conspiracy (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, also known as RICO-18 U.S.C. §1962), drug trafficking, money laundering, and firearm offenses. Previously, six members and associates of the Hells Angels pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy. Additionally, six other individuals pleaded guilty to related charges. In the coming months, these defendants will be sentenced by Federal District Judge Cameron McGowan Currie.
Members and associates of the Hells Angels South Carolina Nomads Charter operated in Lexington and Rock Hill, South Carolina. As part of the coordinated criminal activity, the group engaged in narcotics trafficking, narcotics conspiracy, money laundering, firearms trafficking, use of firearms in relation to crimes of violence and drug trafficking, attempted armed robbery, and other offenses. The Hells Angels Charter’s leadership coordinated the criminal activity and received a kickback or cut of the illicit proceeds generated by members and associates of the Hells Angels. As Baker explained in recordings, members of the Hells Angels were supposed to pay a cut of their profits from illegal activity to Baker as the president of the Hells Angels Charter.
The investigation’s initial insight into the Hells Angels’ drug trafficking came through Dan Bifield (a/k/a Diamond Dan) supplying cocaine and to an individual cooperating with law enforcement. After arranging the cocaine deal in various calls and meetings, Dan Bifield and his wife, Lisa Bifield, first supplied cocaine in July 2011, along with bath salts to be mixed with the cocaine. After the first cocaine deal, Dan and Lisa Bifield again arranged to supply cocaine on August 5, 2011, through Dan Bifield’s cocaine supplier (fellow Hells Angels member Bruce Long). As Long had recently become a full-patch member of the Hells Angels, Bifield turned over the cocaine supply relationship to Long, requiring only that Bifield and the Hells Angels get a cut of the profits. Long then supplied the cooperator with cocaine throughout September, October, November, and December 2011.
In addition to Long, Hells Angels member David Oiler supplied methamphetamine and cocaine. Oiler provided more than a pound of high-quality methamphetamine to the cooperator in 2011 and 2012. Furthermore, Oiler offered to supply larger quantities of narcotics on numerous occasions. Oiler’s primary supplier was Kerry Chitwood. Chitwood and Oiler’s relationship dated back to their joint membership in the outlaw motorcycle gang, the Southern Gentlemen, based in Gastonia, North Carolina. Even after Oiler left the Southern Gentlemen to join the Hells Angels, Chitwood supplied drugs to Oiler. As captured through wiretaps and surveillance, Chitwood also supplied drugs to Hells Angels Chapter President Mark Baker, which Baker then distributed to others. Oiler also attempted to obtain cocaine through another member of the Southern Gentleman, Ronald Byrum.
Along with the cocaine and methamphetamine, members of this drug conspiracy also trafficked in prescription pain pills. Mark Baker arranged for fellow Hells Angels member Frank Enriquez (a/k/a Big Frank) to supply Percocet (oxycodone) pills to an individual cooperating with law enforcement, which Enriquez did.
The drug conspiracy was not limited to actually distributing cocaine, methamphetamine, and pills but also included a law enforcement sting in which the Hells Angels and their associates sold firearms to an informant believing the firearms were to be used in armed robberies of drug dealers. Moreover, the alleged proceeds from the law enforcement sting were then laundered by Bifield, Baker, Long, Oiler, and James Rhodus, a Hells Angels prospect.
The Hells Angels and their associates supplied a substantial number of firearms to the informant, knowing both that the informant was a felon and that the firearms were going to be used in the planned drug robbery. In total the group (though the actions of Pryor, Oiler, Long, Bifield, Keach, and others), supplied more than forty firearms, including assault rifles with extended magazines, a machinegun, silencers, and various other firearms. These firearms were all taken off the street by the coordinated sting operation by law enforcement.
After a month-long trial, the jury convicted Mark Baker of RICO conspiracy, narcotics conspiracy, and money laundering; David Oiler of RICO conspiracy, narcotics conspiracy, various counts of narcotics distribution and attempted distribution, money laundering, possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking and a crime of violence, and illegal possession of a machine-gun and silencer; and Bruce Long of RICO conspiracy, narcotics conspiracy, various counts of narcotics distribution and attempted distribution, money laundering, and sale of firearms for use in drug trafficking and a crime of violence. Based on these charges and the substantial drug weights found by the jury, each of these defendants face a maximum sentence of life and a mandatory minimum sentence of at least 10 years in federal prison.
Previously, six defendants pleaded guilty to a racketeering conspiracy: Dan Bifield (a/k/a Diamond Dan), Richard Thrower (a/k/a Little Mark, a/k/a Rat), David Pryor (a/k/a Yard Owl), Fred Keach (a/k/a Big Fred), Frank Enriquez (a/k/a Big Frank), and Johanna Looper. Each of these defendants faces up to 20 years in prison. Three defendants had pleaded guilty to a narcotics conspiracy: Kerry Chitwood (a/k/a Gowilla), Ron Byrum (a/k/a Big Ron), and Trent Brown. Chitwood faces a maximum sentence of life and a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years; Byrum faces a maximum sentence of life; and Brown faces up to forty years in prison. Lisa Bifield pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking and a crime of violence and faces a maximum of life in prison and a mandatory minimum of five years. James Rhodus (a/k/a Sonny) pleaded guilty to money laundering and Bruce Wilson (a/k/a Diesel) pleaded guilty to selling a firearm to a known felon. Rhodus faces up to 20 years, while Wilson faces up to 10 years in federal prison.
This multi-agency investigation began in response to community concerns about the infiltration of the Rock Hill community by outlaw motorcycle gangs and the brewing violence developing between members of rival outlaw motorcycle gangs—the Hells Angels and the American Outlaws Association. Ultimately, that investigation—through cooperating individuals, surveillance, search warrants, court-authorized wiretaps, consensual recordings, controlled buys, stings, and other investigative techniques—provided a window into the Hells Angels criminal activities. This joint investigation included members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; Lexington Police Department; Lexington County Sheriff’s Department; York County Sheriff’s Office; Rock Hill Police Department; and the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jay Richardson and Jim May.

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