Staff photo by Jake Daniels/Chattanooga Times Free Press Two members of the Outlaw motorcycle gang are led out to a waiting transport van on Thursday evening behind the Federal Courthouse in downtown Chattanooga.
Fifteen members of a local motorcycle group face up to life in federal prison after most were arrested Thursday on charges of conspiring to sell cocaine and crack cocaine and illegally possessing firearms.
Federal authorities also have charged one of the defendants, all of whom belong to the Outlaw Motorcycle Club, with possessing and receiving child pornography images.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Poole said the arrests came as the result of a 2 1/2 year undercover investigation into the club, located at 3014 Campbell St. in Chattanooga, but he declined to say anything else about the case.
Agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives led the investigation with other local law enforcement agencies, including Chattanooga police and the sheriffs' offices in Hamilton and Bradley counties.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the Outlaw Motorcycle Club is supported by a well-known international biker gang called the Black Pistons Motorcycle Club.
A black door and wooden fence surrounds the local compound on Campbell Street. Visible from the street is a black sign on the house with the words "Black Piston MC United States."
* Ryan "Lil R" Birt, 44, of Chattanooga *
* James "JP" Parker, 45, Whitwell, Tenn.
* Ronald "Snake" Howard, 58, Benton, Tenn.
* Steven "Steve-O" Tucker, 38, Rossville
* James "Smiley" Westbrook, 44, Rossville
* David Woodward, 40, Cleveland, Tenn.
* Robert "Bb" Boone, 49, Chattanooga
* Jeramy "Cracker" Rittenhouse, 36, Chattanooga
* Roger "Buddha" Roof, 46, Chattanooga
* Charles "Robbie" Kinsey, 41, Ringgold, Ga.
* Gary "Doodah" Raines, 58, Marion County, Tenn.
* Hershell Raines, 26, Marion County
* James "Dozer" Miller, 40, Chattanooga
* Kelly Adams, 32, Chattanooga
* Marcus Smith, 41, Chattanooga
* This suspect also was indicted on child pornography-related charges
Source: U.S. Department of Justice
Members of the Black Pistons are known to engage in assault, extortion, fraud, intimidation and theft, according to the justice department. The group has expanded rapidly throughout the United States, Canada and Europe over the last several years, according to a description of the organization on
the department's Web site.
David McDaniel said he has lived near the group's Campbell Street clubhouse for almost a year and never had a problem with its occupants.
"They're nice people," he said. "They stick to themselves."
Other neighbors declined to comment about the location.
Federal investigators raided the club's compound early Thursday morning, arresting 13 of the 15 people charged. Mr. Poole said late Thursday that they still are seeking to arrest the last two people named on the indictments.
Those charged include one woman. All range in age from early 30s to late 50s and are known by their nicknames such as Sawgrass, Cracker, Snake, Buddha and Doodah.
Supporters of the club members, many with long hair and multiple tattoos, packed a federal courtroom in Chattanooga Thursday afternoon. They looked on as the 13 who were arrested pleaded not guilty to all charges during their arraignments.
Several family members and friends declined comment when asked questions about the motorcycle club culture.
Hearings scheduled for Monday and Tuesday will determine if the defendants will be allowed to make bond. For now they are being held in the Bradley County Jail.
Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...