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Jay Dobyns

Jay Dobyns

It’s a popular saying and loosely defined as life is so unfair that a person is more likely to get into some sort of trouble than be rewarded if they attempt to do a good deed.

That might be what Jay Dobyns has on his mind these days.  Who is Dobyns?  I posted an article previously on his soon to be released tell all book “No Angel” which detailed his years working undercover as an ATF Special Agent who penetrated the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club (HAMC).  Dobyns was the lead agent in Operation Black Biscuit which resulted in the gathering of 1,600 pieces of evidence, the seizure of 650 guns, more than 100 explosive items including grenades, napalm and 30,000 rounds of ammunition.  Fifty people were indicted as a result of the undercover sting.  In Arizona alone, the government assembled 800 hours of bugged conversations, 92,000 phone calls and 8,500 seized documents in an effort to prove that the HAMC is a criminal enterprise. Dobyns received a top cop award by the National Association of Police Organizations.  CNN has a video snippet with more information HERE and HERE.

The news is the Arizona Republic is now reporting that Dobyns is suing the ATF for failing to protect his family from various death threats. The dispute and subsequent filing of a $4.5M claim against the ATF seems to be supported by an Inspector General’s finding late last year that the ATF has a pattern of agent neglect and failed to provide security or fully investigate a series of threats against Dobyns and his family.  If these facts hold up it’s a sad testimony on the ATF as he put a lot on the line and deserves better!   On his own dime Dobyns has moved himself and family several times to elude people who’ve threatened to kill him or harm his family. He filed a claim with the ATF for the emotional stress and financial burden he’s endured.

It would be easy to speculate that when the press spotlight faded on “Biscuit” the ATF somehow didn’t have the motivation, funds or struggled to deal with the complexity of undercover work and how to best manage agents when they’re back in the LE world.  However in 2004 the agency received indefinite annual funding for the establishment of the Violent Crime Impact Team (VCIT) which was designed to reduce homicides and other firearm-related violent crimes in 20 cities. In 2006, the VCIT/ATF received $20M to identify, target and arrest the “worst-of-the-worst” offenders.  Is funding really an issue?

I’ll follow the Dobyns situation and provide updates as appropriate.

UPDATE: February 5, 2009 – Good interview and summary written by Leo W. Banks of the Tucson Weekly.

Photo courtesy Jay Dobyns and AZ Republic.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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NO ANGEL 5.26.qxd

There are many ways to talk about the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club (HAMC); as a reporter illuminating the record, as an advocate praising their actions or as an undercover agent providing clear insight into the mind of a biker enterprise.  Sure, not everyone agrees with the mission and tactics of law enforcement just like not everyone is going to praise OMG. It’s the way of the world.

Much thanks to G. Walker (Det. Retired) who provided me a preview of the book “No Angel” by Jay Dobyns and Nils Johnson-Shelton.  I wanted to pass this along because as the preview suggests, this is going to be one great read!

“No Angel – My Harrowing Undercover Journey to the Inner Circle of the Hells Angels”

ATF Special Agent Jay Dobyns and Nils Johnson-Shelton

(Crown Publishers, 2009)

      ATF Special Agent Jay Dobyns sat with his back to me.  He was furiously typing on a well-used keyboard.  He wore a white wife-beater t-shirt and both his exposed arms were fully “sleeved”, or covered with tattoo work.  Pulled down low over his bald skull was a dirty blue knit cap.  I quietly watched him as his fingers danced over the keyboard, wondering how no one else at the outlaw motorcycle gang conference I was attending hadn’t spotted this brazen infiltrator who was even now probably sending license plate numbers and other handy information to whichever 1%er club he belonged to.

      It had happened before.  Two full patch members of the Vagos MC had openly walked into a past OMG conference presentation, the room filled with cops and investigators.  The Vagos went unnoticed for several minutes before being identified and ushered out of the hotel.

      I found the conference coordinator and shared my concern about the tough-looking b*astard using the business room Internet service.  “Oh,” he replied, “that’s just Jay…Jay Dobyns.  He’s our ATF guest speaker on the Hells Angels.”

      Well f*ck me…

      Later in the conference I listened to Dobyns speak about his role in Operation Black Biscuit, a two-year ATF undercover operation against the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club in Arizona.  Pacing back and forth in front of a table featuring some of the OMG props he and his ATF team of UC bikers, known as the “Solo Angels”, had used to gain introduction and then admittance into the inner sanctum of the HAMC, Jay’s rapid-fire account of the deepest UC thrust into the heart of the Angels’ organization came alive.

      Today Jay Dobyns, in conjunction with co-author Nils Johnson-Shelton, has written the true story of both his greatest professional and near personally ruinous achievement – riding shoulder to shoulder with the Hells Angels to include the ultimate Angel himself, Ralph “Sonny” Barger.  It is a book the Red & White won’t appreciate; however in all fairness, it’s also a book some in the ATF will hate with equal passion.

      Whether brokering deals for illegal automatic weapons, taking on murder for hire contracts, arming up to do battle with the rival Banditos on behalf of the “81”, or riding 18″ off the rear wheel of an Angel juggernaut Jay Dobyns shoves us down the slippery steep steps that lead to the glowing red inferno that is the world of the Hells Angels.

      Finely woven throughout the book is the agent’s personal decent into the madness of both the investigation and his increasing loss of identity as a human being.  He writes “As I said, dark days.  I turned to the only things I had left: God, friend, and family…It wasn’t my job, it wasn’t ATF, and it wasn’t the Hells Angels that had transformed me into the worst version of myself.  It was I alone who had done that.”

      There have been several previous books on the HAMC and Operation Black Biscuit but none comes close to the knife-edge reality and factual accuracy of Jay’s memoir.  Of the Hells Angels he observes “I realized in that single moment that the brotherhood the Hells Angels claimed to be part of was nothing more than a support group for misunderstood loners held together by hate and money…I’d thought I was the one infiltrating them.  I had it backwards.  They were the ones who had infiltrated me.”

      In mid-2003 Operation Black Biscuit was brought to closure in a series of search warrants and arrests.  The case, however, was gutted by squabbles among prosecutors and the decision makers at the ATF and by 2006 “Black Biscuit” looked more like Brier Rabbit’s badass tar baby.  Earlier, in 2004, the Angels put a contract on Dobyns’ head.  In 2008 his home mysteriously caught on fire and while no one was injured the implications were obvious to the man once draped with the Angel’s coveted Deathhead for “killing” a rival Mongol down Mexico way, an elaborate mock murder that brought Dobyns to the goal he’d always thought he wanted – to become a fully patched Hells Angel as an undercover ATF agent.

      You can advance order your copy of “No Angel” through Amazon.com. The book will be released this February.  Warning! Once you’ve opened its cover and entered the world of Special Agent Jay “Bird” Dobyns there’s no putting it down.  This is one 5-star weekend’s reading about the man who dared enter the innermost sanctuaries of the Hells Angels and returned with his soul singed but intact.

More information available on Jay Dobyns web site.  Book pre-order information from Amazon.

Previous posts on 1%er bikers (1, 2, 3, 4).

UPDATE: February 5, 2009 – Good interview and summary written by Leo W. Banks of the Tucson Weekly.

Book cover photo used with permission.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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