Today’s bikers make “The Wild One” look like the mild one.
Those movie delinquents seem quaint compared to today’s biker gangs that run guns, deal drugs, and kill anyone who rats them out.
Given their felonious tendencies, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Agent Ken Croke’s plan to infiltrate one by going undercover seemed suicidal.
His “Riding With Evil: Taking Down the Notorious Pagan Motorcycle Gang,” written with Dave Wedge, explains how Croke worked his way into one of the most notorious criminal groups, what he saw, and how he survived.
The country is roughly divided into five major motorcycle gangs: The Hells Angels, the Outlaws, the Bandidos, the Mongols and the Pagans. The Hells Angels are most infamous, thanks to Hunter S. Thompson’s exposé. But, Croke argues, they aren’t the most dangerous bikers – not by a long shot. That title, he explains, belongs to the Pagans.
“You also have Hells Angels who are lawyers and dentists,” he writes. “That’s generally not the case with the Pagans. They were hard-core outlaws, every last one of them. You didn’t become a Pagan part-time. When you became a Pagan, it was a lifetime commitment. They took your life over.”
The gang claims roughly 1,500 members in 100 chapters on the East Coast. They’re white supremacists with a history of extortion, arson and murder. The FBI once dubbed them “the most violent crime organization in America.” And they were the only club never infiltrated by law enforcement – until Croke.
Born in Boston, Croke was in college studying accounting when he took a summer job working security at a T.J. Maxx. Turns out he liked catching shoplifters.