ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Wearing only his underwear on a brittle 23-degree night, the member of the Outlaws motorcycle club jumped from a sky-blue sport utility vehicle he'd used to chase down a Bradley County detective.

Then he began a threatening rant.

"It was a fit of rage like none I've ever seen out an individual before - threatening to beat us, threatening to kill [a federal agent] and his family, you know," Bradley County Sheriff's Detective Carl Maskew testified during a March hearing in federal court.

On that frigid night in February in Cleveland, Tenn., Outlaws member Dannie Decker had climbed into his blue SUV to pursue Maskew and another investigator with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The two had driven to Decker's house in Cleveland, pinpointing where he lived before launching raids in coming days that would drop multiple indictments on Decker and 16 other Outlaws and their associates in the Chattanooga area.

With backup help, Maskew and the others managed to subdue and handcuff Decker and haul him to jail.

The raids went off as planned and, with charges that ranged from narcotics distribution to child pornography and firearms violations, the 17 indicted club members now have pleaded guilty or filed motions to plead guilty in Chattanooga's U.S. District Court.

Decker's rant wasn't the first time a Tennessee law enforcement officer was threatened by a member of the Outlaws. Indictments that have stacked up here and across the country in recent months paint a violent picture of the Outlaws and other associated gangs and support groups.

Intimidation and fatal retaliation among the warring Outlaws and Hells Angels led federal investigators from a June 2007 shooting death in Atlanta to an August 2007 vehicle bombing in Dalton, Ga., to a thriving drug trade in Chattanooga and Cleveland.

In turn, the two-year investigation in Chattanooga that resulted in the 17 local indictments led to more cases in Knoxville. In the course of that investigation, a Knox County sheriff's deputy working undercover was kidnapped and threatened by an Outlaws member, records show.

Over the summer, another indictment in Richmond, Va., was unsealed with charges against 27 more motorcycle gang members and their associates, including the Outlaws national president Jack Rosga and the head of the club's Southeast "Gray" region, Mark Lester - the man accused of threatening the Knox deputy.

Of the 17 charged in Chattanooga, only one, Roger Roof, has been sentenced so far. He is to serve three years of supervised release.

U.S. Assistant Attorney Chris Poole and court documents said Roof's part in the criminal activity was small and Roof extricated himself from the Outlaws even before the indictments were drawn.

Roof's attorney, Steven Moore, said the former Outlaws member would not comment for this story.

Working the trail

Darryl Hill, ATF's resident agent in charge of the bureau's Chattanooga field office, said the two-year, undercover investigation of the local Outlaws and the gang's support and apprentice group, the Black Pistons, was nerve-racking.

"It was a lot of lost sleep," he said. "The Outlaws are an old school gang. They are extremely violent. Beatings and black eyes are standard."

The groups have turf where they make their money with alcohol sales in biker clubhouses and bars, as well as drug sales and other enterprises, Hill said. In pursuit of those sales, they are very territorial and much of the violence - including the car bombing in Dalton - is against adversarial clubs, Hill said.

The Dalton bombing was one of a string of warring gang retaliations, he said. James Wayne Brock Jr., of Resaca, Ga., was hospitalized and lost his hand in the incident, which authorities said followed a shootout between Brock's father, a member of the Renegades Motorcycle Club and a member of the Outlaws gang at a strip club in Forest Park, Ga. In the shoot-out, Outlaws member Frank Rego Vital, 44, was killed.

The elder Brock was charged by state officials with aggravated assault, but his attorney argued the shooting was self-defense and that it wasn't clear whose bullet struck Vital. Court records show the case was terminated.

Neither Brock could not be reached for comment.

Authorities have said the Outlaws and Renegades are rivals because the Renegades are a spin-off organization of the Hells Angels, one of the hated enemies of the Outlaws. One Outlaws slogan says "Angels Die in Outlaw States - Adios."

National connections

It was the national leader, Rosga, the 12-count Richmond indictment states, who gave the "green light" to retaliate in Dalton after Vital was fatally shot outside the Georgia strip club.

In July 2009, Rosga told undercover agents posing as Outlaws that they should shoot Hells Angels members, according to the indictment.

In October 2009, Rosga demanded revenge on the Hells Angels after two Outlaws were attacked at a Florida gas station. Four days later, a Hells Angels member in Maine was shot by an Outlaw but survived, court documents show.

Early this year, after Outlaws learned their organization had been infiltrated by law enforcement, Rosga told a fellow Outlaw to clean his own house, meaning anyone suspected of helping law enforcement should be killed, the indictment states.

It was the region leader Lester, nicknamed "Ivan," who is charged in the Richmond indictment with kidnapping the undercover deputy on Dec. 23 "and accusing him of working for law enforcement.

"Leading up to and at the time of the abduction, the sheriff was posing as an Outlaws member, acting in an undercover capacity," the indictment states. "Lester, who was armed at the time, threatened to injure the victim and refused to allow him to leave the room where he was being held."

A week later, on New Year's Eve, authorities raided the Knoxville clubhouse. Lester and other members of the gang filed a lawsuit after the raid, asking for $6 million in damages.

The lawsuit states authorities used heavy-handed, violent and abusive tactics and violated the constitutional rights of the club members - even eating the party food while the club members were held outside in cold, wet temperatures without proper clothing.

In the lawsuit, the club members charged that authorities used excessive force in carrying out the raid when they "broke furniture, destroyed windows and window frames, and smashed in (unlocked) doors with a battering ram."

The suit charges deputies took items that didn't seem pertinent as evidence, including grave markers of Outlaws members who had died, as well as "all items of value (including) flat-screen TV sets, video equipment, cash and jewelry."

ATF's Hill and former Bradley County Sheriff Tim Gobble said the investigations and court cases completely shut down the Cleveland chapter of the Outlaws and left the Chattanooga chapter more of a club than a crime headquarters.

But that doesn't mean state and federal officials won't be watching.

"This is not over," Hill said.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT