Updated: Dec 16, 2019
The term “Intelligence” refers to the information that results from investigations both overt and covert, into any event, incident or circumstance. Information is power. The more you know, the more powerful and successful you can be. In the secretive world of Motorcycle Clubs, good usable information, which allows anyone to better their position or security, is considered good intelligence or “intel”. Good intel in the MC world is rare and hard to come by.
Intelligence comes from a variety of sources including direct experience or observation, word of mouth, the press, government records and business documents, to name a few.
Hearsay, surmise, conjecture, hyperbole, exaggeration, and fabrication are not considered good intel but too often pass for factual information. These things, too often, serve only to distort the real facts and are offered as real information for consumption by the general public.
Misconception in the MC world is more the rule than the exception. Facts are often distorted and even fabricated before they are reported. Deception, defensive lying, and embellishment replace the plain truth. Little is done by the actual principles (those involved) to set the record straight.
Enter the subject of conflict between todays outlaw MC’s and the law abiding MC’s, particularly the rise of the LE MC. The intelligence community plays an important role in the evolution of these conflicts.
The basic conflict lies in the fact that some outlaw clubs believe that they can be the “Dominant” club and dictate the terms of existence and expression and relegate some clubs to a lesser status and require some subservience to themselves. Internal ruling bodies, often called Confederation of Clubs (CoC’s) are formed to rule over clubs who wish to, or are forced to, participate. Many law abiding clubs and all Law Enforcement clubs refuse to be subject to the rule of a CoC. They say the established rule of law in a free society is all they need. The conflict arises when an outlaw club asserts its authority over an unwilling club. The dispute is usually over back patch design and/or configuration, the display of a state name on the back patch, or refusal to acknowledge the CoC as a ruling body.
The role of the intelligence community in all this is to gather factual information from incidents, interviews, and reports made to law enforcement. Surveillance, informants (some unreliable), police reports and follow up investigations, and data mining are some of the most common sources of intelligence gathering. The goal of intelligence is to identify the players and the perpetrators, assess threats, and provide investigators with useable information. The overarching goal is to facilitate the identification and analyze the structure, function, and relationships of the outlaw MC clubs and players, especially those who engage in criminal activities like drug dealing, extortion, money laundering, theft and assault, murder, and mayhem type crimes.
While the practitioners (intel officers and analysts) know the difference between a law abiding club and an outlaw organization, in the MC world they do little to differentiate. The attitude is “If they want to look alike, they will be treated alike”. There is a dislike among Law Enforcement Administrators for the LEMC movement. There is distrust among intelligence officers for the LEMC clubs and members. They believe that there is too little that separates the 99% MC’s from the 1% and outlaw MC’s. We look too much alike and we ACT too much alike in their eyes. Police Administrators who do not sympathize with the LEMC movement know that they cannot practically stop the LEMC movement without overtly suppressing the rights and freedoms of those involved. Their job is to protect those rights. The intelligence community often provides the ammunition that some administrators will use to manipulate the situation to discourage the LEMC movement.
Lately there have been a series of intelligence bulletins written and released which warn that some of the larger outlaw MC’s are threatening to forcibly take vests from the backs of law abiding and LEMC members in response to their wearing of these vests with patches which are not sanctioned or simply because they have the LEMC designation on them. The warning usually comes from and un-named law enforcement official who got the info from an anonymous or confidential source. These reports do nothing to verify the threat and validate the source(s) as reliable. The idea is to discourage the LEMC community by keeping the underlying threat alive in the minds of the members. Unfortunately, this emboldens some members of the outlaw community who now believe this is exactly what they should be doing. In short, these reports, if untrue, are fueling the conflict. This disinformation leads to the kind of violence that good intel should prevent.
It is bad enough that bad journalism, bloggers with a personal agenda, and those who just want to fan the flames of discontent will substitute their personal views for factual information. Do not be mislead by red herring intel reports coming from nondescript sources. This is manipulation, and not the real intelligence community, at work.
ALWAYS CONSIDER THE SOURCE.
EPILOG: The ideological conflict between the Law Abiding MC and the Outlaw MC communities is real. But, it is not as violent as some want it or would have you believe it is. The conflict is only amplified by disinformation from various sources which is accepted as truth by those who are less intelligent. Unfortunately, this can affect the conduct of actual MC members on both sides who then give life to the conflict by their actions.