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Task force arrests 19 members of motorcycle group

Nineteen people were taken into custody following raids of 23 homes in South Carolina and in an adjacent state. These individuals now face charges related to drug crimes and other alleged criminal acts.

The raid followed a two-year investigation into the activities of a local chapter of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang by federal, state and local officials. The arrests came after a grand jury issued a 91-count indictment that accused members of the motorcycle gang and their associates with racketeering and conspiracy to commit racketeering. Prosecutors also alleged that those arrested sold drugs, committed arson and laundered money. Sixteen of those taken into custody listed South Carolina addresses, with three others living in an adjacent state.

During the raids, officials also found two automatic machine guns among approximately 100 firearms along with a large collection of drugs. Officials said they seized cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamines and pills. One of the agents in charge of the operation said the arrests and seizures of items represented a significant step in law enforcement's fight against the "criminal gangs" that he said has roots in South Carolina and the area. He heralded the cooperation between state, local and federal officials.

Another one of the leaders of the group said that the work of the joint task force sends a message that the area will not tolerate such criminal activities, adding the raids and arrests were a huge step in taking down an organized criminal group.

The list of agencies that have contributed over the past two years is extensive and includes the following: the FBI; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Rock Hill, South Carolina, Police Department; the Lexington County sheriff and police departments; and several other local police agencies.

Defendants in the case will want to review all the charges against them and mount a vigorous defense when they believe they have been improperly accused. With this many defendants, some may be accused on a charge that might not pertain to them.

Source: WIS TV, "Feds arrest Hells Angels members on racketeering and drug charges," June 17, 2012

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