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Motorcycle gang specialist leads seminar for local law enforcement

Basin Republican Rustler of Basin, Wyoming

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About 99 percent of motorcyclists are good, law-abiding people who just enjoy riding their bikes, said Big Horn County Sheriff Ken Blackburn. Drugs, prostitution, firearms, trafficking and theft are business as usual for the other 1 percent. Those "1 percenters," as they oftentimes are referred to, are becoming of more concern to local authorities. According to Blackburn, a recent influx of motorcycle gangs in the county has definitely caught the attention of local law enforcement.

Blackburn and other law enforcement officials attended a special workshop recently led by a well-known expert, Steve Cook. Cook is executive director of the Midwest Outlaw Motorcycle Investigators Association. Cook has been featured in documentaries about gang activity on the History Channel, conducted extensive research and undercover work and created an organization dedicated to motorcycle gang investigation.

Cook briefed those attending on the many facets of how gangs operate, how they infiltrate an area and what to do to prevent it. He also showed videos of former gang members explaining how gangs strategically work their way into an area, gaining the confidence of law abiding citizens while at the same time setting up shop with criminal activities.

"These guys, these 1-percenters, are pretty much hardcore criminals," explained Cook. "They're not nice guys. They may do (charity) runs or whatever, but that's just one day that they do something nice, while the other 364 days they sell drugs, steal and beat people up.

"It's typical for them to enter an area, to play the nice guy in order to get community support behind them and then the door is wide open for them to do whatever they want. Then they will systematically destroy your community with drugs and violence because that is what they do everywhere they go."

Cook said the people need to "trust their gut" and know that "if something doesn't look right, it probably isn't right."

"I think the public should do their own research on what these groups are all about," said Cook. "Just Google them and you'll find a whole laundry list of criminal activity they are involved in. I think most people wouldn't want them in their community if they did that."

Blackburn said law enforcement officials are particularly vigilant about an apparent rise in motorcycle gang activity in the area.

"We're not targeting legitimate people who just love to ride motorcycles or legitimate organizations that hold positive events like the cancer run that came through the area this week," said Blackburn. "But we will stand staunchly against anyone who brings drugs and other criminal activity to the area. That 1 percent is definitely on our radar right now."

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Original Publication Date: June 18, 2015

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