In the world of Internet shorthand, "OMG" is a benign expression of surprise.
But to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), the initials stand for "Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs." And a report entitled "OMGs and the Military 2014," on view below, argues that such groups are actively recruiting current members of the armed services to join, with sometimes criminal results.
One example cited by the document is the 2012 murder of Virgil Means in Colorado Springs near the clubhouse for an MC known as the Sin City Deciples — the most common spelling for the group, although we also found references to "Disciples" and "Diciples." (For this post, we're using the first version for the sake of consistency.)
The executive summary of the report maintains that "particular OMGs and their support clubs continue to court active-duty military personnel and government workers, both civilians and contractors, for their knowledge, reliable income, tactical skills and dedication to a cause. Through our extensive analysis, it has been revealed that a large number of support clubs are utilizing active-duty military personnel and U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) contractors and employees to spread their tentacles across the United States."
Many of the report's references to such activities focus on other states, including California, North Carolina, Arizona, Virginia, Washington and Maryland. But as the Colorado Springs Gazette points out, several OMGs of concern to national and local law enforcement have affiliates in the area.
Among them are the Infidels, a group with an anti-Muslim focus, and the Sons of Silence.
A source told the Gazette a local Sons of Silence subgroup known as the Silent Warriors consists almost entirely of active-duty troops.
And then there are the Sin City Deciples, which were described like so in the February 2011 edition of The Scribe, a University of Colorado-Colorado Springs publication:
The Sin City Deciples are a new motorcycle gang that just moved into the area from Indiana. Though they just moved in, they are already about 125 members deep.
Their revenue comes from drug sales. They can be identified by their black and gold colors. They are in cahoots with the Crips, even allowing them to hang out at their club house.
This is a strange alliance, since most members of the Deciples are middle-aged, while the Crips tend to be younger.
Just over a year later, the Deciples made the news in a big way, due to the slaying of a man named Virgil Means.
Here's how the incident and its aftermath is described in the ATF report:
On March 3, 2012, gunfire erupted outside the Sin City Disciples clubhouse in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Virgil “Jason” Means, who was tossed out of the clubhouse after getting into a fight with a member, returned approximately one hour later to retrieve his wallet. As his Cadillac idled in the street, it was riddled with gunfire by three shooters. Means, who was unarmed, was shot and died on his way to the hospital. Six individuals were eventually arrested in connection with Means’s murder. Christopher “Stone Cold” Mountjoy, United States Army soldier and Sin City Disciples sergeant-at arms, was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 21 years imprisonment. It was suspected that he fired the fatal bullet that killed Means.
John “Showtime” Burrell, a Fort Carson sergeant and three-time Iraqi War veteran, was sentenced to thirteen years in prison. Per multiple sources, he is already serving a twelve-year sentence for aggravated burglary in a separate crime. Eric “E-Rock” Bartholomew, a Fort Carson soldier who served seven months in Afghanistan, was sentenced to thirteen years in prison. Carlos Ford was not only charged in Means’s death, but in the fatal shooting of an individual who was found slumped over in his sports utility vehicle; the victim was shot at pointblank range. In total, he was sentenced to prison for 33 years, ten for Means’s killing and 23 for the other. Deangelo Wells and John Severe are the only two who have been indicted who are still awaiting sentencing.
This last sentence isn't quite accurate, at least as it concerns Severe. A 2013 Gazette article published during the trial of Mountjoy points out that Severe took a plea deal in exchange for testifying in the case.
He reportedly was sentenced to a thirty-day jolt after having been accused of cleaning up shell casings after the shooting — although he said in court that he hadn't actually seen any.
The killing of Means is one of 544 violent acts noted in the ATF report, and the authors fear more will follow, as is insinuated by this passage: "The Vagos, Pagans, Bandidos, Hells Angels and Mongols continue to open new chapters across the United States and abroad. In states such as California, New Mexico, Colorado, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and New York, OMG expansion is continuing at an increasing rate."
Of course, these organizations tend to rebel at the assertion that their activities are criminal.
Indeed, one passage of the report mentions that military sorts in Colorado have been found to associate with motorcycle gangs at swap meets, and there are additional allusions to "toy runs." Neither of these activities are necessarily nefarious.
Still, the ATF remains concerned, and not only in regard to the involvement of current armed service inductees.
The document also states that "documented OMG members" include folks who work for "the parking authority, water and sewage departments...and even more disheartening, 911 call centers."
Below, see 2012 mug shots of Mountjoy, Burrell, Bartholomew, Wells and Severe.
They're followed by the complete report, which features plenty of photos.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.