Pagan's Motorcycle Club, or simply The Pagans, is an outlaw, one-percenter motorcycle club and an alleged organized crime syndicate formed by Lou Dobkin in 1959 in Prince George's County, Maryland, United States. The club rapidly expanded and by 1965, the Pagans, originally clad in blue denim jackets and riding Triumphs, began to evolve along the lines of the stereotypical one-percenter motorcycle club.
The Pagans are categorized as an outlaw motorcycle gang by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. They are known to fight over territory with the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club (HAMC) and other motorcycle clubs, such as Fates Assembly MC, who have since merged with the HAMC. It is active in thirteen U.S. states: Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Michigan, Virginia, and West Virginia.
The Pagans were established in Prince George's County, Maryland by then president Lou Dobkin, in 1959. The group started out by wearing denim jackets and riding Triumph Motorcycles. Originally they were a comradeship of 13 motorcyclists. In the 1960s they adopted a formal constitution and formed a governing structure choosing a national president.
They were a fairly non-violent group until 1965, when the Pagans evolved into an outlaw biker gang with ties to other organized crime groups. Under the leadership of John "Satan" Marron their violence grew in the early 1970s. Their mother club is not in a fixed location but has been generally located in the Northeast. Pagan leaders number 13 to 18 members who are chapter presidents with the largest chapter located in Philadelphia.
The Pagans have grown through merging with other smaller outlaw motorcycle gangs. Considered by law enforcement to be almost as complex and diversified as the Hells Angels, the discipline and structure of the Pagans is the most rigid of the Big Four motorcycle clubs.
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The Pagans MC patch depicts the Norse fire-giant Surtr sitting on the sun, wielding a sword, plus the word Pagan's [sic], in red, white and blue. The image of Surtr was taken from an illustration by Jack Kirby in issue 97 of the comic book Journey into Mystery.
Unlike most one percenter motorcycle clubs, the Pagans do not include a bottom rocker on their club insignia indicating the geographical chapter of the member wearing the club's full patch. The club declines to follow this one percenter tradition because they do not want law enforcement to know what state chapters individual Pagans belong to.
Members wear blue denim vests called cuts or cutoffs with club patches, known as colors, on the front and back. Symbols of the Pagans also include a black number 13 on the back of their colors (indicating that they are affiliated with the club's mother chapter), the number 4 (which signifies the motto "live and die"), the number 5, the number 7 (an "in memory of" patch), the number 9 (the chapter with which the member is affiliated), and the number 16 (P is the 16th letter of the alphabet). Nazi or white supremacist patches are also common on the front of the cuts, as are tattoos reading "ARGO" (Ar Go Fuck Yourself) and "NUNYA" (Nun'Ya Fuckin' Business).
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Recently, the Pagans' membership has begun to decline as their rival Hells Angels’ membership has grown. Pagans have approximately 350 to 400 members and 44 chapters and are active along the East Coast of the United States. Chapters are common in Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia. The Pagans have a mother club or ruling council which ultimately rules the gang. The Pagans headquarters is currently in Delaware County, Pennsylvania.
Members must be at least 21 years old and owners of Harley-Davidson motorcycles with engines 900 cc or larger. The national sergeant-at-arms' responsibility is to hand pick 13 chapter members to serve as the "enforcers" or "regulators".
The Pagans have been linked to the production and smuggling of drugs such as methamphetamine, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and PCP. The Pagans also have had strong ties to organized crime, especially in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Pagans often use puppet clubs, smaller affiliated motorcycle clubs, or small street drug trafficking organizations that support larger outlaw motorcycle gangs for distributing drugs. Pagans have also engaged in assault, arson, extortion, motorcycle/car theft, and weapons trafficking. Most of the violence carried out by the Pagans is directed to rival gangs such as Hells Angels.
On July 17, 1994, at least eight members of the Pagans showed up at the annual charity picnic fund-raiser organized by Tri-County MC in Hackettstown, NJ. The Pagans were there to intimidate local motorcycle clubs into aligning with the Pagans so they would have a larger power base to prevent the Hells Angels from getting established in New Jersey. A fight started and escalated from fists to knives and guns. When it was all done, Pagans Glenn Ritchie & Diego Vega had been shot dead. Pagan Ron Locke & Tri-County member William Johnson had gunshot wounds, and Tri-County member Hank Riger had had his throat cut by Ron Locke.
On February 23, 2002, 73 Pagans were arrested in Long Island, New York after appearing at an indoor motorcycle and tattoo expo called the Hellraiser Ball. The Pagans had shown up to the event to confront Hells Angels who were at the Ball. Dozens of Pagans rushed the doors of the event and were met with violence by the Hells Angels. Fighting ensued, ten people were wounded, and a Hells Angel shot and killed a Pagans member. Two weeks later, a Pagans-owned tattoo parlor located in South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was firebombed.
In 2005, Pagans allegedly opened fire on and killed the vice-president of the Hells Angels' Philadelphia chapter as he was driving his truck on the Schuylkill Expressway. Later that year, the Hells Angels closed their Philadelphia chapter.
In September 2010, nineteen members of the Pagans were arrested in Rocky Point, New York for allegedly conspiring to murder members of the Hells Angels. Charges also include assault, distribution of cocaine and oxycodone, conspiracy to commit extortion and weapons charges. Two federal ATF agents infiltrated the gang, providing key evidence. One agent eventually served as sergeant-at-arms, the second-highest position in the hierarchy. Gang members were heard plotting to murder members of the Hells Angels using homemade hand grenades.
A Pagans MC leader, Jay Carl Wagner, 66, was arrested in Washington County, Maryland, by 60 plus officers from state, local and federal officials with a bomb disposal robot on May 9, 2007, and later charged with possession of a regulated firearm after conviction of a violent crime. Police and agents recovered seven handguns, two alleged explosive devices and 13 rifles. On March 5, 2008, Wagner pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. On August 8, 2008, U.S. District Chief Judge Benson E. Legg sentenced Wagner to 30 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release.
On 6 October 2009, the home of national president David "Bart" Barbeito in Myersville, Maryland was raided by police. He was arrested on firearms charges. In June, 2010 he pleaded guilty to racketeering and other charges. He was sentenced to thirty months confinement.
In 2009, 55 Pagans members and associates were arrested from West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Florida. Charges range from attempted murder and kidnapping to drug dealing and conspiracy. So far, seven defendants in the case have pleaded guilty.