Outlaw motorcycle gangs have been in
existence since the late 1940's. Their criminal
activities include but are not limited to the distribution of illegal drugs, possession and illegal sale of
firearms, motor vehicle theft, especially of motorcycles, and assorted crimes of violence. There are at
least five gangs active in New Jersey today the
Pagans, the Breed, the Warlocks, the Wheels of Soul
and the Ghetto Riders. The origin of these gangs is
rooted in their philosophy of always having a good
time, with little or no regard for the law. The groups
are bound together through the principle of loyalty
toward the organization and fellow members. An
example of this camaraderie is apparent in the
following excerpt taken from the credo of one of the
gangs, a philosophy shared by all of them:|
During the late 1960's, the widespread societal use of illegal drugs, as well as a general disdain for authority and established institutions, provided a climate in which outlaw motorcycle gangs thrived. Initially, they were perceived by law enforcement only as participants in the growing drug subculture. When demand for methamphetamine was high, law enforcement initially did not recognize its potential threat and outlaw motorcycle gangs took advantage of the situation. They had, in fact, achieved a position of relative prominence in the distribution of methamphetamine. Today, the outlaw motorcycle gangs operating in New Jersey continue to engage in drug trafficking, especially of meth amphetamine. However, this illegal market is not as lucrative as it once was. As law enforcement directed some of its resources toward the methamphetamine market, gangs soon became targets and numerous prosecutions were brought against key members. In New Jersey and other states, several successful racketeering prosecutions have caused a noticeable decline in gang membership and in overt activity. As a result, members are less ostentatious in exhibiting their gang affiliation and are maintaining a lower profile to avoid identification by law enforcement authorities. The primary way in which members demonstrate their allegiance to a particular gang is by displaying their "colors" while travelng by motorcycle on major roadways. Colors are the official uniform of all outlaw motorcycle gangs. Typically, colors consist of a sleeveless denim or leather jacket which bears an "official" patch or insignia on the back and an assortment of patches and pins attached to other areas of the vest. Consid- ered by members as sacred, the colors are worn exclusively by male members and, in fact, are gang property. In the past, a set of colors would contain the member's rank, his nickname and other designations which may identify his involvement in drugs, sexual exploits, or simply bear the initials of an anti-social statement.
Violence by outlaw motorcycle gangs is usually limited to turf wars and intergang rivalries. A recent example involved the December, 1988, kidnapping and vicious assault by three Warlocks on the president of the Trenton/Bucks County chapter of the Breed. Reportedly, this was in retaliation for an earlier assault by several Breed members on a Warlock member in Pennsylvania.
One characteristic of outlaw motorcycle gangs is their use of wives and girlfriends in gang activities, such as transporting illegal weapons or other contraband. They also use these women to gather information that may be useful to the gang. For example, there have been numerous incidents in which such persons held jobs in municipal, county, state or federal agencies from which they could access documents such as driver licenses, registrations, birth certificates and court records. Females affiliated with an outlaw motorcycle gang are also expected to engage in illegal activities, such as welfare fraud, to support club members. Many also work in cash generating professions such as go-go dancing or topless dancing.
Gang members have little regard for their women as human beings. Often referred to as "Old Lady, Mama, or Sheep," females are considered subservient and are expected to cater to the whims of the membership. While a women known as an "Old Lady" is the wife or girlfriend of a member (and is spoken for), "Mamas" or "Sheep" are available to all members, usually for sexual exploitation.
Aside from recognized involvement in tattoo parlors, auto body shops and related motor vehicle businesses, the outlaw bikers' interest in other legitimate areas seems limited. Perhaps this is because of their overall antisocial philosophy, which does not lend itself to conventional enterprise.