How an outlaw motorcycle gang took root in Clarksville

The go by nicknames like Slo-mo, Goon, Fester, Lurch and Smurf.
But the members of what police call an outlaw biker gang in Clarksville are no joke, committing, robbery, extortion, distributing meth and doing whatever it takes to get away with their crimes, according to the Department of Justice, and that includes murder.

Many of their illegal activities have been committed in Clarksville, where the California-based Mongols motorcycle club sponsored its first local chapter in Tennessee in 2015, according to 54-count indictment handed down earlier this month. Twelve members of the Clarksville Mongols and three other men working with them were charged in the indictment.

Who are the Mongols?

The Mongols are a motorcycle club founded in California in 1969. It is an international organization with chapters across the United states and several foreign countries. They live by the motto"Respect Few, Fear None," according to the group's website.

The national club did not respond Tuesday to a request for comment. This month's federal indictment lays out a history of the club and how it began in Clarksville, all according to federal prosecutors based on a multi-year investigation.

A group of men from Montgomery County started a Mongols Motorcycle Club in Clarksville in 2015, and after a probationary period, they became full-fledged members in 2017, working closely with a club in California to sell huge quantities of meth in Tennessee and Kentucky, the indictment states.

They identify themselves as an "outlaw" motorcycle gang through patches, tattoos and insignia, according to the US Attorney's Office. They wear leather vests with the image of a Mongol rider and the name of the member's regional chapter. Many also wear a "1%" patch to distinguish themselves from the 99 percent of motorcycle clubs who abide by the law.

Associates hoping to become Mongols members are called "prospects" and may wear "soft colors" of black and white shirts that bear "Support Your Local Mongols," the indictment states. All prospective members and their wives or girlfriends must provide information for a background check. The women are allowed to wear jackets that say "Property of," and names their partner.

The latest indictments are not the first for the Mongols, who have had members indicted for years, but, "The club is staying strong and will continue to fight for the biker community an every patch holder's civil liberties," according to its website.

They even have a constitution and bylaws, which includes rules, a code of conduct and penalties if broken. There is a governing body, including a sergeant-at-arms who maintains firearms for the chapter. While they may see themselves as a brotherhood who "ride iron horses" and named their club after Genghis Khan of the Mongol Empire, authorities call them criminals, willing to beat and kill to defend their enterprise.

How did they take hold in Clarksville?

The founding or earliest members in Clarksville, according to the indictment, included Wesley Frazier, aka "Slo-mo or "Special;" Aelix Santiago, aka "Goon" or Big O;" James Hines, aka "Fester;" Michael Forrester Jr., aka "Stix; Stephen Cole, aka "Lurch;" Jamie Hern, aka "J-ROC;" Robert Humiston, aka "Bric;" Michael Myers, aka "Yea Yea;" Michael Levi West, aka "Smurf" or "Blue;" and Jacob Ort, now deceased, were prospective and/or founding members of the Clarksville chapter of the Mongols.

The indictment says each one agreed to commit at least two acts of racketeering activity in the conduct of the affairs of the enterprise.
"Members of the Clarksville Mongols commit, attempt to commit, and threaten to commit acts of violence to protect and expand the enterprises criminal operation, which includes murder, assaults, intimidation, robbery, extortion, witness tampering, money laundering, drug trafficking, and threats of violence directed against rival gang members, law enforcement and potential witnesses to the crimes of the enterprise," according to the indictment.

In March 2015, all but Forrester and Myers went to Palm Springs, Calif., for a national motorcycle run, where they received probationary patches from supervising "patch daddies" belonging to the Mongols Harbor Chapter in California, the indictment states.

In July 2017, additional members went to Palm Springs for the national run, where the "P" for probationary period were removed from their vests and the Clarksville chapter was added to the Mongols' website as an official chapter.

Many members attended weekly meetings known as "church" or "misa." A "mother chapter" in California governs the other chapters and collect fees, dues and taxes, which may be used to pay legal defenses of members prosecuted for a crime on the Mongols' behalf, according to the indictment.

Meth and violence

Much of the revenue in Clarksville is centered on drugs. The federal indictment says Mongols are actively engaged in large-scale drug trafficking, including methamphetamine, oxymorphone and money laundering.

Clarksville Mongols would get drugs from the California chapter and bring them back to distribute them in Tennessee and Kentucky, according to the indictment. The Clarksville members paid proceeds to the California group.

Members are known to threaten other rival gang members, law enforcement and potential crime witnesses, according to the indictment
"Members of the Clarksville Mongols and their associates promote a climate of fear through intimidation, violence and threats of violence intended to promote the authority of the Clarksville Mongols Enterprise and insulate its members from liability for drug-trafficking and violent crimes committed on behalf of the organization," it says.

The indictment says Frazier and Ort set fire to the Sin City Motorcycle clubhouse (link is external) in Clarksville on May 20, 2015, just two days after a Sin City Motorcycle clubhouse in Nashville was destroyed by fire.

On May 21, 2015, some members are accused of kidnapping a woman and questioning her at gunpoint about stolen narcotics, firearms and money before stealing her Dodge Durango. The next day, Frazier, gang member Joel Aldridge and Ort took the woman and another person to a cemetery in Bumpus Mills, where she was shot at least eight times, including once in the head and multiple times in the arms, according to the indictment, which lists victims only by initials. The woman died.

'Baseball' sized meth

Members may have flaunted their power and influence. Santiago told a Clarksville Police Department officer the Mongols are a multi-million corporation that "owns Tennessee," the indictment states.

Frazier and Cole picked up 10 pounds of meth on one trip to the Harbor chapter. Frazier and West picked up 15 pounds on another trip, the indictment said. Members sometimes had "baseball" sized balls of meth. On or about Jan. 16, 2016, Kyle Heade shot and wounded a person during an attempt to buy pain pills, the indictment said. A month later, members picked up 15 more pounds of meth and rented a storage facility to keep it in. In March they got 25 pounds.

Meanwhile, Mongols here were boxing up large amounts of money to send back to California, including $100,000 in March 2015 and $120,000 a month later, the indictment states.

Mongols supporters

Before the recent indictment, the Clarksville Mongols was growing and planning for the future. Besides making money, they were concerned about turf and rival motorcycle gangs, the indictment said.

In April 2016, Hines and others attended a meeting to discuss starting a local chapter of the Raiders Motorcycle Club in Clarksville. In May, members of the Raiders were told not to wear clothing associated with the club or themselves when they "smash on site," or assault members of the Iron Order/Iron Rockets Motorcycle Club. Mongols told them to take the vests from their rivals as souvenirs.
"The Raiders  is the official support club of the Mongols Motorcycle Gang," according to the federal indictment. "Members of a support club generally carry out tasks at the request of its 1% club — such as intimidating other motorcycle clubs and members, guarding motorcycles and keeping watch while members of the 1% conduct business."

Over the next several months, there were numerous fights between the Raiders and the Iron Order/Iron Rockets. In one case, a man was shot multiple times on July 14, 2016, for wearing a vest that identified him as a member of the Iron Order Motorcycle Club, the indictment said. He was taken by LifeFlight to Vanderbilt University Medical Center and survived.

Several members face numerous charges over threats made against another witness in July 2016
Last week, U.S. Attorney Don Cochran of Nashville said the arrests would be significant in Montgomery County, where the gang “terrorized numerous individuals” and pumped in “alarming quantities of illegal drugs.”

Clarksville Police Chief Al Ansley said the arrests will make a difference.
“This is huge for our community in Clarksville, making it safer for our citizens,” Ansley said.