The federal government has been plagued with outlaw or “1%” motorcycle gangs since the 1960s. These frightening one-percenters still exist throughout the country and traffic drugs across the northern and southern borders of the United States. Books and tv shows have long since demonized biker gangs, but there is truth in their representations, as these clubs are involved in organized crime. They are known for contract killing, racketeering, and drug trafficking. One former ATF agent, Jay Dobyn, has been targeted by these gangs as recently as 2008 for writing a book about his undercover work called Hells Angel, No Angel: My Harrowing Undercover Journey to the Inner Circle of the Hells Angels. Crime-filled motorcycle clubs continue to exist in the U.S., so the government continues to fight back against their impact. Keep reading to learn more about some of the most dangerous biker gangs in the United States.
Warlocks - Bad Crowd
The Warlocks are a biker gang with a horrible reputation. The Warlocks are particularly violent. In fact, there are a ton of other dangerous biker gangs who won't have anything to do with them. If that’s the case, you know they must be bad!
There are about 300 members in the Warlocks biker gang and they travel up and down the Eastern Seaboard with their Mother Chapter being in Orlando, Florida. They are also very prevalent in Pennsylvania and Florida.
Warlocks - Drug of Choice
If you know anything about the drug culture in Pennsylvania and Florida, then you know that meth is the drug of choice for the Warlocks biker gang.
Then it’s no wonder that four members were arrested after they sold 500 pounds of crank the same year one of the upper-level members was arrested for having 10 pounds of it on him. Some other heinous crimes the biker gang committed include killing police officers and jumping leaders of rival gangs.
The Highwaymen - A Few Tough Men
The Highwaymen don’t have nearly as many members as the Hell’s Angels or the Outlaws, but they certainly have made their mark.
They are mainly located in Detroit, Michigan, but have several different chapters in the South and the Midwest. There are about 200 members in The Highwaymen biker gang. Despite having fewer members than other gangs, they are just as dangerous. They have committed crimes like fraud, trafficking cocaine, arms dealing, and assassination.
The Highwaymen - Fear No Evil
Some of The Highwaymen were even convicted of bombing the homes of their rival gang, The Outlaws.
And there was a raid in 2007 where 40 Highwaymen were arrested. They have since expanded their operations to places like Alabama, Ohio, Missouri, Tennessee, Indiana, and Florida. One of the mottos of the Highwaymen is “Yea, though we ride the highways in the shadows of death, we fear no evil, for we are the most evil motherf*ck*rs on the highway.”
Black Pistons Motorcycle Club - Violence Is Key
The Black Pistons are a “support club” for the larger gang, the Outlaws. “Support clubs” are smaller clubs that do the dirty work for larger clubs so they don’t get their hands dirty. If a large one-percent gang won’t do something, then you know what they do must be bad!
The Black Pistons Motorcycle Club is scattered all over the United States and has about 200 members. Despite their low membership, they are still considered to be a very violent and dangerous gang.
Black Pistons Motorcycle Club - Organised Chaos
The Black Pistons Motorcycle Club deal drugs and violently react when the Outlaws are attacked in any way, often roughing up their enemies for them.
Their entrance into a new city is a violent undertaking like it is with many support clubs. The Black Pistons Motorcycle Club will often clash violently with other gangs that already exist in the area. The Black Pistons Motorcycle Club is thorough and has a membership list, a constitution, crested jackets, weapons, and much more.
Vagos Motorcycle Club - Crossing Borders
The Vagos Motorcycle Club is mostly known for smuggling drugs across the United States border with Mexico alongside their Mexican chapters. They are located primarily in the southwestern portion of the United States and have about 4,000 members.
This motorcycle gang was founded in the 1960s and they have been feuding with the Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang ever since. The Vagos Motorcycle Club has fallen in line with many other one-percent gangs that pick fights with the Hell’s Angels.
Vagos Motorcycle Club - Evading Time
The Vagos Motorcycle Club has been the key target of many police sting operations over 70 some years of operation, but especially in more recent years. They were even recently accused of placing booby traps in police cars and at task force buildings.
At one point, the Vagos Motorcycle club even sued their local law enforcement for defamation over the accusations. Their case ended up getting settled out of court and not one gang member went to jail over it.
The Sons of Silence - Packing a Heavy Punch
The Sons of Silence are located in the Midwest and the South with their base being in Colorado and have only 275 members in their 30 chapters. Despite being one of the smaller motorcycle gangs on this list, they have the firepower of a much larger gang.
A raid on the Sons of Silence in 1999 gave a peek into the gang’s massive arsenal that included grenades, pipe bombs, and machine guns. Their large amount of weaponry is a result of the turf wars they have been a part of for many decades.
The Sons of Silence - Safety in Numbers
The Sons of Silence originally made a name for themselves, especially in Kansas, Arizona, and Colorado, by challenging the Outlaws motorcycle gang. However, more recently, they allied with the Hell’s Angels.
Allying with the Hell’s Angels has provided the Sons of Silence with a small amount of safety, but they still haven’t let their guard down. Their alliance makes them a natural target for all of the Hell’s Angels’ enemies. So the Sons of Silence will continue to be in an arms race for quite some time.
The Pagan’s - Running With the Big Boys
The Pagan’s originally started as a non-violent motorcycle club. However, in the 1970s, John “Satan” Marron took over leadership of the Pagan’s and started getting them involved with organized crime.
They are located all along the Eastern Seaboard and have about 200-250 members. Even with their small size, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms consider them to be one of the “Big Four” motorcycle clubs. Even the FBI thinks of them as a dangerous organization because they have connections with other gangs like the Italian Mafia and the Aryan Brotherhood.
The Pagan’s - Always up for a Challenge
It’s also not unusual for members of the Pagan’s motorcycle gang to be caught up in crimes like bombings, arson, and murders. In fact, it is well known that the gang loves to stockpile machine guns.
Naturally, as one of the more well-known motorcycle clubs in the United States, the Pagan’s often butt heads with the Hell’s Angels. In fact, many people believe the Pagan’s are behind the murder of the vice president of the Philadelphia chapter of Hell’s Angels in 2005.
Bandidos Motorcycle Club - Spreading Far and Wide
The Bandidos Motorcycle Club is one of the largest motorcycle gangs in the United States with about 2,500 members. They are located in the south and are primarily concentrated in Texas. In fact, they have a presence in 14 countries and 16 states.
This motorcycle gang was founded in 1996. Because they are so large and widespread, the government also thinks of them as being one of the “Big Four” motorcycle clubs. The other big four include the Pagan’s, Outlaws, and Hell’s Angels.
Bandidos Motorcycle Club - International Affairs
The Bandidos Motorcycle Club is in a prime location for drug smuggling activities. Because of their home base being in Texas, this motorcycle club is well known for smuggling drugs across the Mexico border into the United States.
In fact, the Bandidos Motorcycle Club expanded so aggressively that there is evidence of their involvement in crimes as far away as Australia and Norway. No wonder they are considered to be one of the most dangerous motorcycle clubs in the United States and the world!
Outlaws Motorcycle Club - Location, Location, Location
The Outlaws Motorcycle Club is considered to be one of the oldest motorcycle clubs in the world because it was founded in 1936. They are located in the Eastern and Central United States and have about 1,700 members and 176 chapters.
Even after over 80 years of operation, they still have a strong presence all over the world, especially when it comes to drug trafficking. Many motorcycle clubs fight for drug trafficking territory across the United States’ border with Mexico. However, the Outlaws have control over drug trafficking territory at the Canadian border.
Outlaws Motorcycle Club - No Fear
The Outlaws Motorcycle Club has primary control over drug trafficking in the Great Lakes region. Because of this, they are often fighting with the Hell’s Angels. The Hell’s Angels want their drug trafficking territory and are often trying to take it from them.
However, the Outlaws are not afraid of fighting back. In fact, the former president of the Outlaws, Taco Bowman, went to prison in 1999 for three murders. Before then, he was on the FBI’s most-wanted list.
The Mongols - Making Friends
The Mongols may be a smaller motorcycle gang, but they are just as powerful and dangerous as some of their larger peers. They are located primarily in Southern California and have about 1,500 members.
Making alliances with local Latino street gangs in Southern California helped them gain enough power to take the SoCal territory in the 1980s from the Hell’s Angels. The Mongols still hold on to this territory to this day. A large number of the Mongols are either Native American or Hispanic which played a large role in their alliance with the Latino street gangs.
The Mongols - Fighting Discrimination
In fact, the Mongols motorcycle club was founded when a large number of Latino bikers were not allowed into the Hell’s Angels because of their race.
To this day, the Mongols are a violent and active gange. Sixty of their members were arrested in 2008 for racketeering trafficking and murder. Because of this sting, Ruben “Doc” Cavazos, the president of the Mongols, was arrested, too. Later, members of the Mongols were not allowed to wear their patches or “colors” in public. A few years later, a judge ruled that they could wear their colors in public again.
Hell’s Angels - More Than a Gang
The Hell’s Angels motorcycle club is perhaps the most notorious of all motorcycle clubs. In fact, their branding has worked so well that they have become a business. That’s right. The Hell’s Angels are incorporated in Canada and the United States.
Their corporation sues people for copyright infringement. Most notably, they sued the movie Wild Hogs. Hell’s Angels are located all over the country, and the world, with their strongest presence located in California. They have about 2,500 members.
Hell’s Angels - Turf Wars and Internal Issues
With such a well-known name as Hell’s Angels, it is easy for them to recruit new members. Their numbers are constantly growing and with that comes numerous fights over territories.
For instance, they are constantly fighting with the Mongols for California territory and the Outlaws for Canadian territory. And those are just two turf wars out of many! There has even been fighting within the motorcycle club itself. There was a fight between two Canadian chapters in 1895 when one chapter thought the other wasn’t good enough to wear the gang’s colors. Then, members of the “unfit” gang were found dead in the St. Lawrence River.
Hells Angels - Lifetime Commitment
Their name is legendary. There isn't a person in the Western World who hasn't at least heard of the Hells Angels. This infamous motorcycle gang started back in 1948, and they have gone on to make quite the name for themselves in the decades that followed as it spread worldwide.
But not just anyone can join the club. They may occasionally break the law of the country that they ride in, but they never break the society's rules. Becoming a Hells Angel is a lifetime commitment, and the club becomes the first priority in your life. Over everything else. Read on to find out exactly how the brethren can become your life - and demise.
An Inside Look at the Life and Laws of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club
The Hells Angels were officially formed on March 17, 1948. There are a few that will argue with you, but that's the most agreed-upon date. It all came to pass in Fontana, California. After the Second World War, there were a good few veterans forming motorcycle clubs. Military surplus made motorcycles affordable, and so the clubs started to spring up.
The press says one thing, law enforcement says another, but it's what the Angels say that we'll take as gospel. Post-WWII, many young soldiers found it hard to readjust back to civilian life. They missed the comradery and the sense of order and belonging, and the clubs filled that space. Eventually, some of those clubs came together, and a proto-mega-club settled into the Hells Angels as we know them. Oh... and there was a famous American bomber going over Berlin and showing them who's the stronger side.
It was the Bishop family that founded the club, but nowadays, it's Sonny Barger that's running the order. Technically, there isn't any one person in charge of everything, but Sonny is the man that everyone goes to. He's proven himself over and again to be the club's frontman and has unofficial authority like no other.
Sonny is a founding member of the Oakland charter, and he serves as their president. He's a distinguished 81 years old, but that's not stopping him from riding out with the young'uns. To date, he has been a member longer than anyone else, and impressively, he has not spent much time in prison - just four years for attempting to blow up the clubhouse of a rival gang. That was back in 1988, and it's the only blot on his record.
Who Needs Grammar?
Yes, we know. The apostrophe is missing, do you want to be the person who tells them? Grammar geeks are busy writing outraged emails as we type, we're sure. The 'Hells' is a possessive noun, which means that there should be an apostrophe between the last L and the S. Without, it just forms the plural of Hell. However, we're not going to be the ones to bring it up with the decades-old order.
In fact, let's direct the language police to the website of the club itself. Amazingly, they have already noticed, and they have this to say about it: “Yes, we know there is an apostrophe missing but it is you who miss it. We don’t.” As you will shortly find out, being a Hells Angel is about breaking some rules - apparently, that includes those of English grammar.
Spreading the Fun
It didn't take long for the club to grow enough to form new groups. It quickly spilled across California, and charters were founded in San Francisco, Oakland, Gardena, and Fontana, as well as a few others that haven't risen to quite such prominence. It was easy to set up a new charter back then, and there was no central organization.
It was a good couple of years before it was decided that some sort of unification was needed. The charters had been focused inwards, concerned with their own members and their problems. As a result, some of them weren't even aware of some of the others that existed. Eventually, they all came together to work on creating a framework of internal laws covering organization and admission.
Establishing a Charter
“Motorcycle Clubs consist of people who have ridden together for years, live in the same area, are known by the community, have runs and parties, and are a brotherhood.” So says the Hells Angels website, and reading it helps to understand the process and timeframe needed to create a new charter within the order. It's not an overnight occurrence!
In fact, it takes at the very least years, and more than likely decades, to get to the point where you have a group established enough to form their own charter. It's an organic process, an evolution of sorts. Some upstart that's had an argument with the local group certainly can't retaliate by forming their own! It's almost a feeling, a coming-of-age. Members know when it's time.
So, once your group or charter is formed, is that the end of the story? No way. Now you have to mark your territory. It depends on the group, but many groups ride around in specific areas. It's called 'claiming'. We're not sure how you go about claiming your patch, but once you've got it, no other motorcycle group can drive there, unless they're just passing through.
That goes for other Hells Angels as much as for different gangs. In those cases, at least, it's all kept friendly, but if a rival gang such as the Outlaws Motorcycle Club tries to get in on the action, it can get dirty. So dirty, in fact, that in some cities where incidents occur, the gang members get sent to different hospitals so the fight can't continue in the halls!
So, there were a few charters set up in California. Was that where it was going to stop? Surely it would spread across the US? Well, we're here to tell you, no and no. Surprisingly, the first charter inaugurated outside of the Sunshine State was across the world in Auckland, New Zealand. That was in 1961, and the club has not looked back since.
It took another eight years, but 1969 saw the first charter to be opened in Europe. That was in London, England. That was 50 years ago, and now you can find your local group in Australia, Brazil, South Africa, and Eastern Europe, to name but a few locations. There are 467 charters in 59 countries across 5 continents. It's truly a global phenomenon.
It's particularly ironic when a Hells Angel gets put away for drug dealing, because one of the strictest rules of the club is, no narcotics. It makes sense when you think about it - at the end of the day, they are an order of motorbike riders, and that's a lot easier and more fun to do when you're sober.
In fact, all contact or use of substances is strictly forbidden. That covers selling, dealing, trafficking, you name it. The use of needles for pleasure is also a solid no-no. The group isn't kidding around with this one, either, If you're found in possession of the wrong thing, you're automatically kicked out of the club.
The Hells Angels are all about living by their own rules, embracing their history, and becoming a tightly knit family. It's unsurprising that with this mindset, the order in America has been slow to accept applicants from different cultures and races. Although there are some with Hispanic ancestry, most of the members are Caucasian, and they want to keep it that way as much as possible.
Outside of North America, it's harder to say. Obviously, different cultures accept and embrace different things. One thing to remember is that as long as they operate within the club rules, charters have a certain autonomy. Therefore, some have widened their outlook to include those culturally diverse to them, and some still have a long way to go.
You may not have noticed, but you won't find a female Hells Angel. As in the armed forces during the World Wars, there's a place for women, and it's not in military - or motorcycling - service. However, just like the military, women do play a major supporting role. These guys are no monks, and many of them have wives and families.
We're guessing that without those women, the club wouldn't last long - most male-run organizations have a woman in there somewhere holding everything together. The ladies behind the Angels have to have a certain amount of patience, though - the brotherhood comes before everything else, including family life.
Moving Against the Flow
The Hells Angels were, and indeed are, nothing if not iconic. The club forms a symbol of men looking out for their fellow men, and not trusting in authority. It's therefore not surprising that they became heavily involved with the counterculture of the 1960s. The name grew to be particularly synonymous with the music of the times.
California was their center of operations, particularly in San Francisco, in the Haight-Ashbury district. Members were often seen attending local music and other events. There were strong connections with artists such as Ken Kesey, the Merry Pranksters, Allen Ginsberg, Jerry Garcia, and the Grateful Dead, and The Rolling Stones.
As a result of their involvement in the music culture, the group came to the attention of various big names in the industry. Thus was born a working relationship that they abide by to this day. You will often see Hells Angels working as security in music concerts, and it all started back in the day.
In 1961, George Harrison had the idea to ship some club members over to London, England. He had been impressed by the attitude of the bikers and thought that they would make great security for a Beatles concert. The respect that the bikers showed for the band and the fans earned the respect in turn of the Fab Four, and other bands followed suit. It's great exposure for the Hells Angels, and the band gets hard workers who love their music.
Of course, life isn't always a bed of roses. Most of the time, the Hells Angels do a great job of keeping a music concert safe and secure, but occasionally, things can get out of hand. That's what happened at a concert held at the Altamont Speedway back in 1969. There were a few incidents of beating up concertgoers who had got riotous, but the big problems started when someone pulled out a pistol.
Merideth Hunter can't have been thinking too clearly, because brandishing a weapon at a Hells Angel is not to be recommended. The brothers immediately attacked the concertgoer, and one managed to stab him - fatally. Passaro would be arrested for murder but was quickly acquitted when evidence showed he was acting in self-defense.
First Rule About Hells Angels...
It is only to be expected that a club like this, formed with such deep ties to each other, suspicious of authority, part of the counterculture, would form their own rules and follow them to the letter. A Hells Angel may be blasé about breaking the law from time to time, but Heaven help them if they find themselves acting outside of the code.
In early 1965, LIFE photographer Bill Ray and writer Joe Bride spent some weeks with a gang of Hells Angels. This is what they had to say:
“They, of course, didn’t have jobs. They despised everything that most Americans pursue – stability, security. They rode their bikes, hung out in bars for days at a time, fought with anyone who messed with them. They were self-contained, with their own set of rules, their own code of behavior. It was extraordinary.”
A Matter of Principle
The attitude of the Hells Angels is bound to bring them into contention with outside entities now and then. For instance, the then-president of the Ventura, California, charter, George Christie Jr, and his brothers were denied access to the Ventura County Fair in 2002 and 2003. The fair had banned gang attire and tattoos, and the Angels were not about to take anything off, or cover anything up!
“This is a constitutional thing for one, but it goes far beyond that,” George stated to the press. “This is not something I take lightly or something I just do on weekends. I’m a Hells Angel 24 hours a day. I’ve dedicated my life to it, and I equate that to religion.”
Breaking the Rules
Basically, we don't advise doing it. The club has many strong points, and its privacy and the closeness that its members experience are just some of them. But as with any good thing, the lighter the shiny side of the coin is, the darker the flip side becomes. We don't know what happens to those who break the code, and that should tell you all you need to know.
Dark tales abound of supposed and alleged punishments that a betraying member faces. Investigator Julian Sher has claimed that their tattoos get burned off by their vengeful brothers. However nasty it gets, the worst thing for them is that they get kicked out of the club that they have spent their lives dedicated to. They've given up everything for the club, and now they're banished, with nowhere to go.
There's a saying that goes, 1% of troublemakers give a bad name to 99% of the rest of them. Never has a truer word been spoken, about bikers or indeed any other group of people. We like to focus on the drama, and our media only ever highlights that 1%, to the detriment of everyone else.
The Hells Angels refer to themselves as a one-percenter biker club. They would very much like to keep their name separate from that tiny minority that can't behave themselves. They are not, despite what we may think, a street crime cartel. Yes, occasionally one gets convicted of murder or drug dealing, but then, so does the occasional housewife!
The Old Ladies
1965 was the first time the women of Hell's Angels were in the center of attention. Photographer Bill Ray spent a month with the San Bernardino chapter, he wrote about his experience in Life magazine. In an interview with Time about his experience and article, he said this: “One thing about the Angels that I found fascinating, was the role that the women played. The girls weren’t there in chains, or against their will. They had to want that life."
He then added: "The women of the Hell’s Angels were bad, brassy, bombshell ‘old ladies.’" 'Old ladies' was, of course, how they referred to women, but in a good way.
Talking of the 1%, meet Maurice "Mom" Boucher. If Sonny Barger is the Angel on the right shoulder of the club, then Maurice is the demon crouching on the left. He is an ex-president of the Montreal charter of the Hells Angels, and his reign was one of terror. His tenure included the Quebec Biker War, which lasted for eight long years. He joined the club in the wake of the Lennoxville Massacre, as that event showed him that the club was hardcore enough for his tastes.
He's in prison now, serving three life sentences, but he's still allegedly ordering murders from his cell. In fact, he's been in jail various times over the years, including a 40-month sentence for armed sexual assault on a 16-year-old girl. The Hells Angels, unsurprisingly, have kicked him out.
No Means No
From the outside, this is a formidable team of ultra-tough guys, but we're beginning to see that there's a lot more to a Hells Angel than we previously thought. Their restrictive rules promote an environment that's protective of its members, and also those close to them. Members are restrained, in control of themselves, and respectful towards others.
And that includes women. A Hells Angel is careful and thoughtful in his approach toward the opposite sex. The order has zero-tolerance for those who would take advantage of a woman. Not only will they be kicked out of the club, but it would be a very thorough kicking. Consent is paramount.
An Eye for an Eye
What does this code of conduct that rules the life of a Hells Angel mean to us? It means that they deserve our respect just as everyone else does. They are a very principled bunch, but they're not over-burdened with rat's asses to give about what people think of them. Therefore, they give as they find. Be nice to the scary man in the leather vest, and he'll be nice to you.
Journalists who have worked with members of the club have used words like 'inviting' and 'incredibly welcoming' to describe the men that they've met. A Hells Angel will be a good neighbor and help where they can, and even extend the courtesy to strangers. Just don't be surprised to get retaliation in kind if you disrespect them.
We've no idea who Robert was, but in 1876, he invented a set of rules that many organizations still adopt today. It's a framework within which a meeting should be run. The Hells Angels convene regularly for meetings, and when a gang of passionate men are in the same room together, there need to be strict rules, clearly enforced. The penalty for breaking one is a $100 fine.
Robert's rules are for democratic meetings. The Hells Angels are about as democratic as they get, in all that they do, from initial admission to the gang to electing a president. In all their meetings, they must produce an agenda and adhere to it. They must not interrupt unless they have to, and questions can be raised before the assembly.
The Right Bike
Can you guess which bike the Hells Angels prefer? We bet you don't need three tries. Yes, the Harley Davidson holds a special place in the club's collective heart, to the extent that, in the vast majority of chapters, you are only allowed to join the club if you own your own. Luckily, getting in can take years, so you have plenty of time to work your way up to the king of bikes.
Harleys are up there with the club insignia as a part of the very lifeblood of the order. They are a tradition that goes back to the first chapters. The Hells Angels are very into tradition, so much so that anything new can take a long time to filter through the rules into general acceptance. Still, we can't argue with them on this one. Harleys are the best.
Ha, that's a bit melodramatic, in our opinion, but it might be seen as the case by some of the more conservative chapters out there. We hinted at this in the last slide, but here is the truth. There are a few chapters - just a few - that will allow their members to ride a motorcycle other than a Harley Davidson.
Having said that, don't get too excited, you on your Yamaha. The only other bikes that will even be considered by such forward-thinking groups are all American-made. One example would be Buell Motorcycles, who have been making bikes since 1983, based out of their Wisconsin headquarters.
The Hells Angels is an exclusive bunch, in more ways than one. Once you're in, you're excluded from any other biker club. This is more about the commitment and the family aspect of the club than arrogance or any other negative connotation. You shouldn't need to join anything else when the order provides for your spiritual and emotional needs.
Having said that, you can't just associate with anybody. If you're going to lend your weight to a cause or a body of people, make sure that their ethos isn't at odds with that of the Hells Angels. “Never combine your support to Hells Angels with other clubs, street gangs, or others," warns the website, "if you are unaware of the relationship between those others and the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club.”
No Working for the Law
We have touched upon the Hells Angels' mistrust of authority. They are a highly principled group of people with very specific beliefs, and their code does not always match that of the law of the land. Although they are more or less law-abiding, they will become criminals if the occasion - and their own law - demands it. The group stands for freedom.
As a part of that statement, members are not allowed to work in law enforcement. No policemen, no prison guards. That might result in a conflict of interests unbearable to all parties involved. Members will pay the price if they get caught breaking the country's laws, but they don't want to see the brothers that they sacrificed themselves for doling out the punishment.
The Hells Angels may be a lot of things, but first and foremost, it's a club. Clubs have activities, that's the point. If you don't turn up to the club's events, people will start wondering why. The Hells Angels, in particular, cultivate bonds as strong as blood between them. Their attendance code is strict, and if you continually miss meetings, you're in for trouble.
The process of becoming a full member, however, is protracted. Years are spent in gaining trust before the exalted vests are given out, so generally, all those who aren't committed enough to attend group events are weeded out before it gets personal. Once you're in the family, you won't want to miss the things that you do together.
Of course, one of the main things that the group does together is ride motorcycles. It is a bikers' club, after all. One of the core passions that has brought all these men together is love, nay an obsession, with bikes. The Hells Angels website states that the club rides around 20,000km/12,400m every single year.
The tenets of the Hells Angels faith are based around freedom, and what better way to experience that freedom than when the wind rushes against your arms as you speed along on two wheels? When the events that Angels are obliged to attend involve riding in the open air, you can bet that the members don't need to be asked twice!
When one of these ride outs happens, it's a sight to behold. The mass of bikers can take up the entire road. It may seem like chaos to us who watch from the outside, but within that chaos, a pattern has taken shape, for the brothers ride in a very particular order based on ranking.
The president of the charter will be right at the front, along with his road captain. Yes, we told you, it's like a military organization. There are all sorts of official ranks in there between the freshest member and the top of the pile. The riders will spread out along the road in order of seniority of those ranks, and older members will ride before newer ones where rank is the same. Prospects will ride at the rear.