By New Times
By Connor Radnovich
By Robrt L. Pela and Amy Silverman
By Ray Stern
By Keegan Hamilton
By Matthew Hendley
By Monica Alonzo
By Monica Alonzo
Gonzales states his case politely. In truth, if court records and grand jury transcripts are any measure, police investigators consider the Dirty Dozen members uniquely low forms of life.
The club masterminds one of the state's largest methamphetamine rings, police claim. Its members beat and kill people at will, and proudly stitch to their sleeveless vests the shoulder patches of police officers they have slain.
Altogether, police say, the approximately 130 current members of the club have thus far racked up more than 600 criminal charges.
The police say the members award each other special badges for performing oral sex on women in front of witnesses. The badges sport different colors, depending on whether the woman is white or black, menstruating or not, dead or alive.
They buy, sell and trade their wives and girlfriends, the police version goes, and love only their Harleys, colors, guns and drugs.
These are not exaggerations, police investigators have claimed in affidavits, grand jury proceedings and court hearings.
"The 'colors' symbolize the member's adopted family--i.e., the club--and members have even claimed that their 'colors' are more important to them than their wives or biological family," reads one typical police affidavit regarding the club.
"A gang member's loyalty and dedication to his fellow members run deep," the affidavit continues. "A strictly enforced code of silence ensures the confidentiality of gang activities and operations. If a member breaks the code of silence, he may be hunted down and severely disciplined, which can result in his death."
A sinister picture, club members say, if it were true.
"These guys are fucking crazy," says Kenneth "Norton" Johnston, a Mesa chapter member and one of the police's favorite targets of investigation. "They are obsessed."
"They're renegade cops," says Burr, one of the club's founding members. "They really have a thing against us."
The police, club members say, are chasing a myth of their own creation, a largely fictional version of outlaw motorcycle gangs derived from old movies and dubious intelligence.
"We've grown out of the 60s," explains Bo. "We're in the 90s. I don't know where these fuckers are."
It is true that some members of the club have criminal records--including some old homicides. Police point out that at least four current members of the club have been charged with murder, including a 1980 bar fight in Claypool that left two men dead, an unrelated killing in 1983 and a 1983 shooting outside of a north Phoenix bar.
Though more than a decade in the past, the 1983 bar killing is typical of biker violence, police say. John Turner, a 44-year-old electrician, stopped at Gary's Lounge for a few beers after work.
When Turner asked the girlfriend of one biker to dance, other patrons--reportedly including Dirty Dozen members--threw the man out of the bar. Ticked off, Turner got in his pickup truck and started running over a line of more than 20 bikes parked outside the bar.
As he continued trying to crush the bikes, Turner was shot and killed by someone in the crowd of angry bikers that had run out of the bar to the parking lot. Police were unable to determine who fired the fatal shots.
But club members say the frequency of such violence is greatly exaggerated, and, in fact, most of the stories police have to tell about the gang are tales from the old days.
The "hundreds" of criminal charges filed against them, they say, begin to dwindle quickly once the minor charges--like disturbing the peace and failure to provide proof of insurance--are weeded out.
Some members have faced more serious assault, burglary, sexual assault and drug charges, members acknowledge, but most of those incidents occurred years ago--and after all, this is an outlaw motorcycle club, they say, not the Boy Scouts. Of course members own a lot of weapons and macho paraphernalia like machetes, chains, police scanners, night-vision goggles and bulletproof vests, they say.
But it takes a long jump, they say, to get from grown men's toys to the police-proffered scenarios of routine violence, debauched sex and unending drug dealing and consumption.
Many of the club's members do not have criminal records, they point out. About a third of them don't even drink at meetings.
Most of them hold steady jobs. They have wives, or girlfriends, and children. (None can recall selling or trading girlfriends or family members.) They don't know when they are supposedly finding time to be the state's highest-volume methamphetamine traffickers.
"I've been at the same job for going on ten years," says "Jamaica" Rick Solesbee, a 40-year-old member whose job is making Ping golf clubs. "I leave for work at the same time every day, at 5:30 in the morning. There is nothing illegal involved in anything I do. Everybody in our chapter, they have jobs. They pay taxes."
Solesbee has no criminal record. Nor does Kenneth "Bumper" Krenkel, the 45-year-old lithographer, who has been in the club for 12 years, and served stints as a chapter treasurer and vice president.
"Either I'm the smartest motherfucker on the face of this Earth," bellows Krenkel, who does have a temper, "or I'm abiding by the same rules that maybe you are."
Richard "Glaze" Steiner, 38, the Cave Creek chapter president, has worked for the county for more than ten years. His most recent recorded criminal act was a DUI citation in 1983.