Violent motorcycle gangs make up the "One Percent" -

Biker gangs are the "One Percent"

The thunderous roar of their approaching motors can strike fear in the hearts of local communities.  Their criminal activity and propensity for violence is legendary. They are America's outlaw motorcycle gangs.

The nemesis of these "criminals on wheels" is the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms. John A. Torres is an ATF special agent.

"We target those we believe have a propensity for violent crime," says Torres. "And anybody who does that is going to face the wrath of police, law enforcement, ATF or the federal government."

Special Agent Torres led a 2008 investigation and take-down of the notorious Mongols motorcycle gang.

"Over the course of several years, we were able to arrest over 100 of their members and execute 130 some odd warrants across the United States on their club," says Torres. "We think we put a significant, significant dent in the Mongol Outlaw Motorcycle Club." 

Other dangerous motorcycle clubs include the Hells Angels, the Pagans and the Bandidos.

Dave Nichols is author of a new book that pulls back the veil of secrecy surrounding outlaw biker gangs. It describes how they became known as "One Percenters" following the infamous 1947 Hollister motorcycle riot. The American Motorcycle Association issued a press release blaming the violence on a small minority of bikers, saying that "99 percent of motorcycle riders are good citizens."

Nichols is the editor of Easyriders magazine and author of the book "One Percenter Code".

"These outlaw clubs said 'That's our banner,'" explains Nichols. "And they grabbed that one percent code and they went for it and they put a little patch on the front of their jackets that says One Percent. Suddenly, America had a new threat: The biker gang."

While the One Percenters engage in serious crimes like drug and weapons trafficking and sometimes even murder, Dave says they're guided by a "secret honor code."

"It's been the kind of thing that's only been passed down from generation to generation," says Nichols, "From Father to Son. Pirates had a code of ethics certainly the "Code of the West" is certainly part of the One Percenter Code. And so from their point of view, they come from a place of being respected and having earned that respect within their club."

Agent Torres says the honor code makes the One Percenters no less dangerous. He warns they are prone to sudden violence, so you should stay as far away from them as possible.

Torres says, "In my experience as a 28-year ATF veteran, if somebody comes in contact with someone they believe to be an outlaw motorcycle gang member, I would simply leave the area. If it's at an eatery, find another place to eat. If it's at a camp ground, find another place to pitch your tent."

"They live for their motorcycles," says Nichols. "You never touch their motorcycles. You never touch them. And never touch the patch that's on their back. That's like their flag of honor. If you come upon a pack of One Percenters, just let them go on by; do not try to join their pack. It's the safest thing to do."

Copyright 2012 America Now. All rights reserved.

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