SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The largest presence of an outlaw motorcycle gang (OMG) in South Dakota is the Bandidos, said state Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) special agent B.J. George.
The Bandidos have chapters in Rapid City and Sioux Falls, he said.
“To go along with that, we have members of the other OMGs that live here,” George said. “We haven’t seen an uptick in OMGs. The Bandidos have been here a long time.”
OMGs such as the Bandidos have been listed as being involved in illegal activity by various federal agencies and national organizations.
“There isn’t a crime that’s off the table that (OMGs) could be involved in,” George said.
The member numbers in either city are in the low hundreds which is much less than OMG membership in Minnesota or Iowa or eastern Nebraska, George said. One reason for that is the state has a lower population than neighboring states, he said.
The DCI raided the Bandidos clubhouse in Rapid City on April 28. The DCI has not yet released details of the raid. George could not comment on the incident.
The Bandidos have been identified by the U.S. Department of Justice as an OMG and a 1-percenter club.
The Hells Angels, Mongols, Outlaws, and Sons of Silence are the other OMGs.
The 1% term is a term used for outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMGs). It is said to have originated as a response to a 1947 statement by the American Motorcycle Association which said 99% of all motorcyclists are law abiding.
Although not every member of an OMG or the Bandidos is involved in criminal activity, George said, the OMGs are involved drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, possession of each, prostitution and other crimes.
“Across the board, if it’s illegal these groups could be involved,” George said.
The DOJ describes OMGs as “highly structured criminal organizations whose members engage in criminal activities such as violent crime, weapons trafficking and drug trafficking.”
The structure exists in South Dakota, George said.
The chapters have support clubs such as the Twisted Drifters in the eastern part of the state. Just as with the Bandidos or other OMG main groups, membership in a support club does not mean that each member is engaged in criminal activity, George said.
Those support clubs in a state report to a state chapter, he said. The state chapter reports to the national chapter president, George said.
OMG’s illegal activities are becoming more sophisticated as they adopt more use of technology.
Phone, computer and other use of technology is designed to hide activity from law enforcement, George said. It is used for any type of criminal action, he said.
A member of an OMG that does not have a chapter in South Dakota could also be participating in criminal activity in the state on behalf of his out of state OMG chapter, George said.
The websites for the main OMGs also list international chapters.
The international connections allow OMGs to coordinate drug operations with international drug-trafficking organizations, according to the DOJ.
The size of the two chapters in Rapid City and Sioux Falls will fluctuate, George said. When the numbers drop, Bandido members will recruit other members.
OMGs attract individuals with criminal or potential criminal dispositions and facilities that support criminal networks, a 2015 National Gang Report from the National Gang Intelligence Center.
“The criminal element follows these OMGs around,” George said.
The Bandidos MC website describes the members as: “We are a 1% Motorcycle Club living our life with out excuses and giving respect where it is earned.” The site also listed this: “People judge us by appearance, Media portrays us as the boogie man, Law enforcement arrests US for existing, And the courts judge and jail us based on the patch we wear, So from the straights in the world and the judgmental ones, we: EXPECT NO MERCY.”
The Bandidos MC website said the club is “the largest 1% club in the Western Hemisphere, with 1,100 members in Northers, Central and South American Countries.”
The violence associated with OMGs is not a myth, George said.
Yet, “we have not seen an uptick in violence here,” George said. Nationally, there has been increase in violence such as the 2015 shooting in Waco, Texas, were nine people died and 15 were injured in rival OMG shooting.
“Usually it’s club on club violence,” George said. It’s not as if an OMG member will jump out and beat an (unknown) individual, he said.
The Hells Angels USA website does not list a chapter in South Dakota but lists chapters in Minnesota and North Dakota.
The Sons of Silence website lists honesty, loyalty and respect. The website also notes a presence in South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota and North Dakota.
The Outlaws exist today as one of the largest motorcycle clubs worldwide, the club said on its website. There is no chapter listed in South Dakota.
Although the Outlaws have a website a person must ask a member face-to-face about joining the group.