On March 17th, 1948, the Hell’s Angels was founded, and upon its entry into the world, motorcycle gangs throughout the United States were put on notice. The motorcycle outfit originally began in California but has since become a worldwide powerhouse. The gang is one of the most recognizable symbols of outlaw behavior, and incidents throughout the club’s history have been well documented by historians and the media alike. They bring with them an intensity and a history that are nearly unrivaled by any motorcycle gang in U.S. history. But despite the image they try to portray to the media by participating in philanthropic endeavors, the Hell’s Angels will forever be remembered as a beacon of criminal activity.
Being a one-percenter motorcycle club carries a certain number of preconceived notions with it, and the history of the Hell’s Angels is littered with bloodshed and illegal activity. Because of the dark history that’s associated with the club, the Hell’s Angels has had a number of incidents that its members wish could’ve been kept under wraps. On our list, we’ll be talking about 15 secrets that the Hell’s Angels outfit wishes would’ve remained private. Despite its members’ attempts at using charity and volunteering efforts to help their reputation, such activities have gone virtually unnoticed, and they’re still considered a feared club in the eyes of the public. After the rise of the series Sons of Anarchy, motorcycle outfits are as popular as ever, though few boast the rich history and the criminal activity of the Hell’s Angels.
15. The Attempted Assassination Of Mick Jagger
Those of you who are familiar with the most famous incident in the history of the Hells Angels are aware of the impact that it had on the music community. For a quick refresher, the Rolling Stones were set to play a concert at the Altamont in Northern California and decided to hire the Hells Angels for security. While the Stones thought it was a good idea to have this rough gang of outlaws provide security for their show, things turned violent shortly after the Stones took the stage, and a fan ended up losing his life that day. It remains one of the darkest moments in Rock and Roll history, and it’s one of the main reasons that the Hells Angels is considered such a deadly gang to this very day.
What most people don’t know is that the incident caused a huge rift between the Rolling Stones and the Hells Angels, prompting the motorcycle outfit to attempt an assassination on singer Mick Jagger. The group was unsuccessful at blowing up a yacht that Jagger was supposed to be on. Imagine a world where Mick Jagger died in the 1960s.
14. The River Run Riot
Because Las Vegas and Reno are located in Nevada, the state has a long-standing history with criminal behavior, and it should come as no surprise that one of the most infamous moments in the history of the Hells Angels occurred south of Las Vegas. The Laughlin River Run is one of the most attended motorcycle runs on the West Coast, and attendance has reached as high as 70,000 bikers. Because a number of different outfits who are in conflict with each other show up, incidents are bound to break out, though none are as infamous as the River Run Riot.
The incident began when the Hells Angels wandered into Harrah’s Casino, the traditional hub of the Mongols during the rally. After several words were exchanged, the two gangs came to blows, giving way to the use of knives and guns. By the time the situation had finally cooled off, 3 people had lost their lives and 16 were taken to the emergency ward. There were a number of gang members on each side who were charged for their crimes that evening, and many of them spent time in prison.
13. The Beatles Helped Start The London Chapter
When it comes to the history and the expansion of the Hells Angels, very few would think that the most famous band of all time would have a hand in them arriving in a new country. Rock stars may boast a reputation of being degenerates, but few of them are truly tough enough to associate with a notorious motorcycle club. Though he may have been considered the quiet Beatle, guitarist George Harrison is, in part, responsible for bringing the Hells Angels out to London, effectively giving way to a new chapter of the notorious gang.
As the story goes, George Harrison had invited several members of the Hells Angels out to London, and when they arrived, the members who showed up saw a high number of Impostors wearing Hells Angels patches. This didn’t sit well with them, and after much discussion, they made their way across the pond to start two new chapters. After several years, the two chapters united to become one, and thus, the London chapter of the Hells Angels was officially born.
12. They Exist In Over 50 Countries Around The World
Few people outside of researchers truly know the impact that the Hells Angels — despite its being started in California and eventually making its way out to London — has had on the world. Their California chapter became so infamous that imposters were bound to pop up in various locations, and because the Hells Angels was always looking to make itself bigger and stronger, it seized every opportunity that it could to expand its club. It makes sense that it spread throughout the United States because it’s a lot easier to travel to and from as well as keep tabs on what’s going on with other chapters. But the group boasts an international impact that’s truly impressive, considering the club is less than 70 years old.
Whether you’re in North America, Europe, or even Australia, you can rest assured that the Hells Angels will be found. As it currently stands, there are over 400 chapters of the Hells Angels, spanning over 50 countries on 5 continents.
Many gangs are notorious for pumping fear into their newest members, letting them know that the only way out is in a body bag. Joining an outfit like the Hells Angels is intended to be a lifetime commitment, and it’s your responsibility as a member of the club to show nothing but the utmost loyalty to your brothers. This doesn’t prevent tension from arising between members; nor does it stop those who are in the company of the Hells Angels from doing unfavorable things that get them in hot water with other members. Though Canadians are known for being incredibly nice people, their Hells Angels chapters are just as ruthless as the ones found in California, and they’re responsible for slaughtering several of their own members.
Before they became the powerhouse that they are now, there was a point in time when the gang was fractured at best. When debts arose, lives were lost, and this infamous slaughter led to a more organized chapter in Canada.
10. They’re A Legitimate Corporation
Organized criminal activity has long been something that societies have dealt with, and despite the attempts of these gangs to appear legitimate, they always seem to falter at the most crucial of moments. Though they’re one of the most notorious motorcycle gangs to ever walk the planet, the Hells Angels has worked incredibly hard at becoming an organized outfit despite being on five separate continents and over 50 countries. In order to pull off this type of legitimacy, the Hells Angels went a lot further than ensuring that peace is kept between members and that things are reported accurately from their chapters. In the United States and Canada, the Hells Angels are a legitimate corporation, and they haven’t hesitated one bit to battle things out in court should they feel offended or infringed upon.
Their most notorious moment in court came when they successfully sued Disney over the movie Wild Hogs. The group’s legal battle showed that they were something other than what they were perceived to be. Instead of handling the situation with violence, they chose to do things in a professional manner, but this did little to help their reputation given their lifetime of criminal activity.
9. Baptized With Urine
Associations like sororities and fraternities have a long-standing tradition of hazing prospective members looking to join their ranks. We’ve seen this parodied in countless films, and the internet has given way to bringing these horror stories to light. Should you suffer through these ridiculous traditions with a smile on your face, you’ll be accepted into your new group of peers. Some of the most common forms of hazing have come by way of paddling and public humiliation, but they hardly cross a toxic line that the Hells Angels are alleged to have crossed.
It’s said that people looking to get into the Hells Angels will have to spend up to several years looking to get their patches. While you’re on this probationary-type period, you’ll be tasked with doing the group’s dirty work on a day-to-day basis. This seems easy enough, but when the moment comes to have urine and feces poured all over you, most people would cave. It’s a moment that’s supposed to symbolize a rite of passage.
8. They Were Named After A World War II Squadron
Over the course of time, the motorcycle club’s name has become synonymous with crime and destruction. Given its history of partaking in drug distribution and a laundry list of other crimes, this does make sense. What may come as a surprise to most people is that the group’s name is actually derived from a military unit. The founding members of the Hells Angels were veterans looking to establish a motorcycle club, and their selection of the name “Hells Angels” came directly from their prior service.
It’s said that member Arvid Olson was the one who suggested that the name “Hells Angels” be used for the new motorcycle faction. Olson had served with the Hell’s Angels Squadron, which was located in China during World War II. Military squadrons all have unique names and designations, though few are as menacing and fear-invoking as the name “Hell’s Angels.” Given that the group was founded by veterans and members of other motorcycle gangs, it was important to establish a brand new identity that would strike fear and local clubs, and thus, the Hells Angels was born.
7. Drug Trafficking
Because motorcycle gangs are notorious for being involved with illegal activity, it should come as no surprise that the Hells Angels has had a history of being busted for drug dealing. Depending on what you’re selling, there’s a pretty good amount of money to be made, especially if other salesmen are genuinely terrified to go anywhere near your established territories. While distributing weapons is a much more financially beneficial endeavor, distributing narcotics is easier to get away with.
Back in 2016, former president of the Hells Angels Monterey chapter pleaded guilty to several drug-related charges. The 64-year-old was intending to distribute over 50 grams of methamphetamine, and his admission of guilt was a huge smudge on the reputation of the Hells Angels. This isn’t the only drug-related charge that the club has faced, but we chose this specific case to highlight the type of drugs that the group has dealt in the past.
6. Selling Women In Germany
As if the laundry list of charges that have been levied against the Hells Angels hasn’t been dark enough, the group’s European chapters have also had their fair share of problems, more specifically, running a brothel in Germany. Brothels are completely legal in Berlin, Germany, but the things that were going on behind the scenes were dark and warranted investigating. The police were quoted as saying that the activity going on was “brutal and illegal,” and that the group was exploiting dependent women. The Guardian reported that over 900 personnel, including police and customs investigators, arrived to raid the brothel, which must’ve been quite a scene.
Tax fraud and withholding Social Security contributions were the main charges that were levied against the members there, but a darker and much more sinister accusation is what truly grabbed headlines. The investigation sought to find evidence of human trafficking that may have been going on in the club. It was alleged that Hells Angels members were responsible for securing women for the club in exchange for favors.
5. Extortion In Canada
The lifetime membership that comes with being patched into the Hell’s Angels is one that’s taken incredibly seriously, and those who don the colors and the patches of the notorious gang often find that their activities within the gang itself bleed into their personal lives. It’s one thing to act a certain way when you’re in the company of the Hell’s Angels, but it’s something else entirely to use your newfound friends to flex your muscle in personal endeavors.
In 2015, a Hell’s Angels member in Canada was sentenced to five years behind bars for attempting to extort his former business partner. It’s alleged that a junior Hell’s Angels member was carrying out his bidding, prompting the former business partner to seek help from law enforcement. The junior Angel tried extorting the man for his yacht, as well as his cash. This stemmed from an unpaid loan that the man had received years prior.
4. Infiltrated By An ATF Agent
The process of becoming a member of the Hells Angels is an incredibly long road that’s only completed by those who truly want to be part of the club. After the River Run Riot had broken out, law enforcement saw to it that the gang was infiltrated and its secrets exposed. An ATF agent was tasked with becoming a member of the Hells Angels, and he spent nearly two years performing undercover work. In order to get his patches and be a member, the agent staged the murder of a rival gang member to please his soon-to-be friends. Once he was successfully patched into the gang, the agent began to work diligently in order to bring down a number of members associated with the Hells Angels.
Once his identity was brought to light at the conclusion of his infiltration, the ATF agent who was responsible for getting in close with the Hells Angels received plenty of death threats. These threats came from members of rival gangs as well, and he had a massive target on his back thanks to his work for the government.
3. Refusing To Help In A Shooting Investigation
Petty moments can have severe repercussions when dealing with certain people, and a seemingly innocent incident sparked a shooting in New York. For moving an orange traffic cone in front of a Hells Angels building, a man was shot in the gut and was subsequently rushed to the hospital. The young man who was shot was moving a traffic cone when the war of words broke out between him and a member of the group. Shortly thereafter, the man’s friends left their car to confront the biker, prompting the biker to throw a punch. A scuffle broke out, and when other Hell’s Angels flooded the street, all hell broke loose
Given its reputation, the gang was immediately put under investigation, and the police sought their help in tracking down the perpetrator. Unfortunately, the bond of brotherhood of the Hell’s Angels is airtight, and when police looked to members of the club for help, they were met with silence.
2. They Sued The Police
Police investigations can prove to be essential in taking down criminal rings. The gangs that are subject to these raids never see them coming, leaving them vulnerable to being caught by law enforcement agents as they look to clean up their city. Unfortunately, these raids can also cross the line, prompting gangs to retaliate in a number of different ways. Because the Hell’s Angels are not opposed to slapping people with lawsuits, they decided to take matters into the courtroom, and they launched a lawsuit against law enforcement agencies for crossing the lines during the raids.
The investigations stemming from a fatal beating in a strip club parking lot are what brought on the raid. The personnel involved with the raid were said to have fatally wounded several dogs as well as driven away with many of the group’s items. All in all, the case was settled when the guilty parties agreed to pay the club a whopping $1.8 million. Talk about a huge slap in the face to law enforcement.
1. Setting Up A Murder To Join
People are willing to push themselves to the limit in order to join the Hell’s Angels, and their actions, when discovered, will have severe consequences on the rest of their lives. Younger members looking to join the ranks of the Hell’s Angels are usually tasked with carrying out menial tasks and dealing drugs, but those looking to make a huge impression will resort to more drastic measures. When a person is caught pretending to be a member of the Hell’s Angels, he’s met with a swift and brutal punishment. One such man was lured to a person’s house, and he was fatally shot. The man responsible for luring him there wanted to join the Hell’s Angels, and he made the call to bring over several members to take care of the imposter.
The man’s body was dumped in a ravine, and it was eventually discovered. The process of putting the man behind bars took seven years, and when the case concluded, he was sentenced to 7 years in prison. The man claimed that he didn’t know the murder was going to occur, but it was too little, too late.
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