Sunday, 14 July 2024

Authorities track outlaw motorcycle gang

LAKEPORT – As a bass fishing tournament this past weekend was attracting hundreds of visitors to Lakeport, another group of visitors had law enforcement on alert.

Lakeport Police Det. Norm Taylor said the Lake County chapter of the Vagos, an outlaw motorcycle gang, held a poker run around the county over the weekend, basing it out of Lakeport's Buckhorn Club bar.

The gang, said Taylor, is spread across all of California and into Mexico, with chapters in Nevada and Hawaii, and in some East Coast locations.

The Vagos are a criminal street gang, said Taylor. Over the years, Vagos members around the country have been indicted for weapons and drug violations, conspiracy to commit homicide, kidnapping and much more, he said.

A report from the California Attorney General's Office states that there are 47 outlaw motorcycle gangs in California; among the most prominent, the report says, are the Hells Angels, Mongols and the Vagos.

In recent years the Vagos, founded in Southern California, have shown an increased presence in Northern California, the report noted. The Vagos reportedly have 33 chapters with 300 members statewide.

As far as local gangs go, Taylor said the Surenos have been much more criminally active and visible than the Vagos, which are spread out across the county. Sureno gang members are implicated in the stabbing of a young Clearlake Oaks man in Library Park last month.

Local Vagos have been arrested before, but none of them have been charged with being members of criminal street gangs, said Taylor. He added that the Vagos have been “relatively low key” as far as criminal activity locally.

Taylor estimated between 50 and 60 motorcycles were included in the weekend run, which was billed as a benefit for the Fallen Riders Trust. About half of those riders were “average folks” who enjoy taking part in poker runs, he said. Riding alongside them were 24 Vagos members.

At the event police identified Vagos members from Lake County, Redding, Nevada, San Jose and the Sacramento area, said Taylor.

Last September, Lake County's Vagos chapter held its inaugural ride, said Taylor. That event, he said, caught police completely off guard. “We were not aware of it until it was already happening,”he said.

No arrests were made, he said. But after that experience, he said, Lakeport Police wanted to be prepared in case another run took place.

The department has been tracking gang activity, he said, which helped them find out about this latest gathering.

The ride was held on the weekend of the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Hells Angels. Although the two gangs aren't considered rivals, there is tension between them in Northern California, said Taylor. He said he didn't believe there was a direct correlation between the ride and the anniversary.

Taylor said the county has a gang task force that includes members of several local law enforcement agencies.

As part of the enforcement effort last weekend, Lakeport Police had assistance from California Highway Patrol, Clearlake Police, Lake County Probation, State Parole and Lake County Narcotic Task Force. He declined to say just how many officers were on the street keeping track of the Vagos ride.

Taylor said authorities tightened enforcement – specifically of vehicle codes – in order to keep things in order.

There were no criminal incidents, Taylor reported, and no noted interference in the bass tournament.

There were, however, three arrests made, said Taylor. One of those was a Vagos gang member, arrested by the Lake County Narcotic Task Force.

Taylor said Lakeport Police will continue watching the Vagos activity. “We have a local chapter so I expect we will continue to see similar type activities go on in the future at what frequency is still to be seen,” he said.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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