PHOENIX (AP) - State and federal law enforcement officers in Arizona
they fear a war has broken out between rival motorcycle gangs in the
aftermath of last weekend's casino melee in Nevada.
Hells Angels leader Sonny Barger, of Cave Creek, had taken stock of his
gang's deteriorating relations with other biker gangs and had set up a
"peace powwow" in the Arizona desert west of Kingman for after the huge
biker gathering in Laughlin, Nev.
But before the meeting could take place, a fight ensued in Harrah's
Casino early Saturday between the Hells Angels and Mongols, in which three
were killed and 12 were wounded, and a Hells Angel member was fatally shot
on Interstate 40 near Ludlow, Calif., while riding away from Laughlin.
Now, a turf war has broken out among the competing groups in Arizona
throughout North America and Europe, said Phoenix police Detective J.P.
Wilson, who specializes in biker gangs.
Arizona could be a big player in the war because more than 200 Hells
Angels live in the state and have chapters in Phoenix, Tucson and around
Prescott and have a presence in the Globe and Yuma areas, agents said.
The Mongols, based in Los Angeles, have long sought a toehold in the
Phoenix area and have had encounters with Hells Angels here, federal agents
Lt. Rick Gehlbach of the Phoenix police said the local dispute is all
"It's face-saving, it's posturing, it's territory. Hells Angels claim
Arizona, period, and the Mongols don't respect any boundaries at all,"
Last year, leaders of the Hells Angels and Mongols were involved in a
shooting and stabbing in San Diego County, and the two gangs clashed at
Costa Mesa, Calif., swap meet.
Earlier this year, members of the Mongols formed an alliance with the
Vagos, Banditos, Pagans and Outlaws gangs against the Hells Angels, Wilson
"It's virtually everybody against the Hells Angels, and they're feeling
the pressure," Wilson said. "The Hells Angels have said they are not going
to stand for this, and this is an official war."
The only person arrested so far on suspicion of murder in the Laughlin
melee is Calvin Schaefer, 32, of Chandler.
Schaefer recently became a full member of the Hells Angels and has worked
as a sheet-metal installer at various local construction sites, said David
Woods, a former co-worker.
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"He was a bit standoffish at work, but I wouldn't have expected anything
like this to happen," Woods said.