Expert links shooting suspects to Mongols motorcycle gang
December 18th, 2008
An expert on outlaw motorcycle gangs testified in court Tuesday, explaining that three of four men implicated in the non-fatal shooting of a suspected Hells Angels member appear to be patch-wearing Mongols gang members.
Chris Cervantes, a Montebello police detective and ATF investigator, was brought from the Los Angeles area to provide expert testimony at a preliminary hearing for the men suspected of shooting 43-year-old Robert Thompson.
Authorities have seized the men's property, including clothing reportedly emblazoned with the gang's logo and an application to join the Mongols Motorcycle Club -- an outlaw motorcycle gang the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has labeled as the most “violent and dangerous” in the nation.
On Nov. 8, authorities responded to shots fired on Third Street in downtown Eureka. There, police found Thompson lying in an intersection, bleeding from multiple gunshot wounds.
Later that night, authorities located a dark-colored van, similar to one witnesses saw at the scene, and arrested Eric Gunner Lundin, 28, Dustin Christopher Liebes, 36, Brad Lee Miller, 26, and Redding resident Eric Dean Garcia, 28.
Upon searching the van, investigators reportedly located a disassembled semi-automatic hand gun.
The four have pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder, assault with a firearm and participating in a criminal street gang.
Three of the suspects bear tattoos, whichCervantes said linked them to the gang.
Lundin, Liebes and Garcia all have diamond-shaped “1%” tattoos inked on their necks. Called the “one-percenter” tattoo, Cervantes said, it has been adopted by the Mongols and refers to the traditional concept that 99 percent of motorcyclists are law-abiding citizens.
Lundin has the letters “MFFM” -- or Mongols Forever Forever Mongols -- tattooed on his knuckles, and has the traditional Mongol head on his chest and right arm.
The Mongol head, a Genghis Khan look-alike wearing sunglasses, is also tattooed on Garcia's forearm.
The letters “RFFN” -- Respect Few Fear None -- are displayed across Liebes' chest.
Cervantes said that tattoo can only be worn if the member has committed violent acts against Hells Angels members.
As the story goes, the Mongols were formed in the 1970s by a small group of Latinos who were denied entry to the Hells Angels due to their ethnicity, he testified. There are now between 500 and 600 members in chapters throughout the United States, including California, Oregon, Nevada and Florida.
The Mongols Web site declares the organization's support of a new chapter that has opened in Italy.
Although the Mongols' regional presence is not strong enough to warrant a Humboldt chapter, Cervantes testified there is a Northern California chapter. No matter where the chapters are, they are governed by the “Mother Chapter” which hands down orders, many of which are based on the gang's constitution.
The long-standing rivalry between the Hells Angels and the Mongols began early on, emanating from similarities between patches worn by the two gangs, he said. The violence escalated over time into a bloody gang war, with the Mongols perpetrating the majority of the attacks.
”This is a war. These guys are trying to kill each other, and the Mongols are winning,” Cervantes said. “There are a lot of (Hells Angels) dying at the hands of (Mongols') knives and guns.”
On Oct. 22, a U.S. District Court judge granted an injunction banning gang members, family and any associate from wearing, licensing or distributing the Mongols' logo.
With the banning of the Mongols' trademark, officers have ordered members to stop wearing the logo, Cervantes testified.
However, during a search of a storage unit rented by one of the suspects, authorities located Mongols paraphernalia, including a T-shirt with “prospect,” which is worn by someone intending to be initiated into the gang, and a gang application, he said.
The application had been mailed to “The Mayor,” which Cervantes said is Lundin's moniker, leading him to believe “Lundin is the president of this Northern California chapter.”
During recorded interviews taken at the jail, Lundin reportedly told officials he would be willing to give up his patch as a “bargaining chip,” Cervantes said.
”I have a really hard time believing he would be giving up his patch if he didn't have a patch,” he said.
All the suspects were returned to the Humboldt County jail, where they remain on $500,000 bail. Their preliminary hearing is expected to end today.
Sean Garmire can be reached at 441-0514 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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