An outlaw motorcycle gang in the Keys? Really?
Yes, sheriff’s deputies have arrested three members of the Pagan’s Motorcycle Club in the Lower Keys in the past two weeks. (The erroneous apostrophe in Pagan’s is theirs, not ours.)
All three suspects had guns. All three had drugs — two to 12 grams of cocaine each and four grams of a crystal-like white powder that the suspect said was Molly.
But before you start rewatching all seven seasons of “Sons of Anarchy”, Sheriff Rick Ramsay describes the recent spate of arrests more as a circumstantial coincidence than a concerted effort by a biker gang to infiltrate a small town.
“A lot of things happened at once to make the issue seem worse than it is,” Ramsay said, but added, “All three recent arrestees — two of them are Key West locals and one was in town for the Pagan’s annual meeting on Big Pine Key — had guns and drugs on them, which means our guys now treat the group’s members as armed and dangerous.”
But the club has been coming for years to Big Pine for an annual membership meeting.
“This is nothing new. There’s not an invasion of biker gangs suddenly occurring,” Ramsay said.
On Feb. 3, deputies arrested Pagan’s member Austin Christopher Reynolds, 26, of Key West, after he fled from a deputy on U.S. 1 on Stock Island. Reynolds was charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of a weapon (a large knife) by a convicted felon, possession of cocaine, fleeing and eluding, evidence tampering, reckless driving and knowingly driving with a suspended license.
“They stay at the Big Pine Motel, Looe Key Resort and at Parmer’s. They have a barbecue and recruit members, which is fine as long as they’re peaceful, and we generally haven’t had problems with them. Like the mob, outlaw motorcycle gangs don’t want to draw attention to themselves or to any criminal enterprises occurring within them. And I do believe drug sales are a coordinated enterprise within the Pagan’s. It’s organized crime and I’ll give them as much attention as they demand. I want them and our citizens to know that they’re not going to intimidate law enforcement.”
Ramsay pointed out that most Pagan’s are on their best behavior while they’re here. And most — but not all — are smart enough to realize there’s only one road out of the Keys, he said.
“We have Stinger Spike Strips along the highway every seven miles. I can get deputies positioned in front of someone long before they reach the mainland. If they want attention, I’ll give them plenty of attention. We’re the biggest gang. My gang has chapters in all 67 Florida counties, but my chapter presidents are called sheriffs.”