- The Washington Times - Friday, May 3, 2002

LOS ANGELES (AP) The deadly gun and knife fight in a Nevada casino last weekend was just the latest battle in an increasingly bloody turf war in which several motorcycle gangs across the country lined up against the Hells Angels.

The bloodshed among the outlaw bikers began several months ago with the breakdown of a truce that largely had held for about a decade.

At stake are turf and the drug trade that comes with it.

Law enforcement specialists said they were not sure exactly what set off the round of violence, but it had put the Pagans, Bandidos, Sons, Outlaws, Vagos and Mongols on the same side.

"You have the Hells Angels basically going up against virtually every other motorcycle club," said Tim McKinley, a specialist on motorcycle gangs with the FBI in San Francisco.

The rising tensions over the past few months had led Sonny Barger, the legendary founder of the Angels, to organize a "peace powwow" in the Arizona desert that was supposed to take place after the gathering of motorcycle enthusiasts in Laughlin, Nev., last weekend, Arizona police said.

But the peace conference was scuttled by the brawl between the Hells Angels and the Mongols inside Harrah's Casino. Three bikers two Hells Angels and a Mongol died in the crowded casino and a Hells Angel was shot to death as he rode away from Laughlin.

Mr. Barger, who lives near Phoenix, has declined telephone and e-mail requests for comment.

Tensions are high because gang membership nationwide has expanded over the past decade and that has led to fights over turf, said Lt. Terry Katz, a specialist on motorcycle gangs with the Maryland State Police.

The Hells Angels have more than 200 chapters worldwide and 1,800 to 2,000 members.



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