By Lee Brown-New York Post
The notorious Pagans biker gang has gone through an “unprecedented period of growth” and “explosion of violence” in New Jersey — and every cop needs specialist training to stop them, an official report warned Wednesday.
The Pagan’s Motorcycle Club — commonly known just as the Pagans — has almost doubled in size in the last few years and is behind violent attacks on people unconnected to the biker scene, a report by the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation (SCI) said.
They also help organized crime gangs — including assisting “La Cosa Nostra in the collection of gambling and loan sharking debt,” the SCI said.
“This newfound level of aggression has led to drive‐by shootings, savage beat downs of adversaries and unprovoked physical assaults on members of the public across New Jersey,” the report said, noting many victims were not connected to the biker gangs.
“Law enforcement experts told the Commission that there were more incidents of violence committed by the Pagans during a recent 18-month period than the prior ten years combined, but the actual tally was likely higher because many incidents go unreported.
“Along with carrying out documented assaults, shootings and other violent acts, Pagans remain involved in the extortion of legitimate businesses, muscle-for-hire debt collection schemes and the illegal possession of weapons,” the report said.
“The Pagans also continue to maintain their long-standing foothold in the drug trade, particularly in the distribution of methamphetamine,” the report warned.
Formed by 13 motorcyclists in Maryland in 1959, the Pagans have long been one of the largest outlaw biker gangs in the country, along with the Hells Angels, Outlaws, Bandidos and Sons of Silence.
But the “radical change” to being “more militant” came in 2018, when a Long Island chapter boss, Keith “Conan” Richter, “assumed the presidency in a hostile takeover,” the report said.
Richter — who had served 16 years in federal prison for ordering the killing of a Long Island strip club manager who refused to pay extortion fees in 1998 — was so determined to become the “dominant outlaw biker gang on the East Coast” he took controversial steps to ease strict membership rules, the report said.
That included letting bikers pay $1,000 to join, a derided practice called “cash for colors,” as well as “certain ethnic minorities and former criminal street gang members to join,” the SCI said.
“The former Bloods, Crips and Latin Kings brought experience with street violence to the Pagans, a valuable asset in the club’s quest to dominate rivals,” the report said.
The “complete reversal of prior practice” annoyed its white supremacist members — although black bikers are still strictly forbidden, the report noted.
The gang also bans any ex-cops, and uses technology like drones and encrypted communications to avoid detection, the SCI said.
The commission called for every cop in New Jersey to now get mandated “specialized training on outlaw motorcycle gangs.”
Aside from learning about the history, ideology, membership and trends for the various gangs, any required training should provide instruction on identifying characteristics of members, tactics on how to collect such information and subsequently compile it for intelligence purposes,” the report said.
The SCI also called for the Attorney General to create a working group of law enforcement officials from local, county, state and federal agencies devoted to tackling the biker gangs’ threat.
“This Pagan resurgence – especially the increased violence and other illegal acts that have accompanied it – not only threatens the public peace and public safety of the citizens of New Jersey, it also presents significant challenges for those responsible for protecting it,” the report warned.