Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images

Biker Gangs Roll Into Mob Museum

Most of the displays at the Mob Museum are about old-school criminals: Men in fedoras wielding Tommy guns as their Duesenberg sedans tear through teeming city streets. But, of course, gangs have taken a variety of forms since the days of Prohibition, and a new exhibit on outlaw biker gangs acknowledges that.

“We also address modern organized crime in all its forms, from the Mexican drug cartels to cybercrime to outlaw motorcycle gangs,” says Geoff Schumacher, the museum’s director of content. “And when we address 21st-century organized crime, we usually look at its global reach. This is certainly the case with outlaw motorcycle gangs, which are an American export that can be found on every continent today.”

The exhibit also features a video interview with former Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent Jay Dobyns, as well as memorabilia from his time working undercover in outlaw biker gangs, including his vest from the Solo Angeles Club in Tijuana and a set of studded leather gauntlets that would make any death metal musician jealous.

“Jay Dobyns spoke at the Museum in 2014,” Schumacher says. “When we began work on this display, we contacted Jay and he was willing to loan us objects from the time when, as an ATF agent, he was working undercover with biker gangs in Arizona. Jay is a controversial figure in some circles, but he was able to provide valuable insights.”

Of course, outlaw bikers are a tiny percentage of motorcycle riders—a certificate from Senator Harry Reid thanking the Banditos club for their charitable activities hangs amid the more menacing memorabilia. “Our focus is on those motorcycle groups engaged in drug trafficking, firearms trafficking, extortion and other forms of crime,” Schumacher says. “Most bikers are law-abiding citizens and are not participating in organized crime.”

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