A motorcycle gang so vicious that a member removed his own artificial leg to beat a senseless man with the limb is aggressively expanding its territory in the Big Apple, warns a former agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives who infiltrated the group.
“Pagans roam the streets of New York City today, sporting their colors,” former ATF agent Ken Croke, 54, who spent two years undercover with the gang, told The Post. “There are loads of pagans running around, actively recruiting and have been for years.”
He recounts his harrowing secret experiences ten years ago in the new book, “Riding with Evil: Take Down the Notorious Pagan Motorcycle Gang,” co-authored with Dave Wedge.
Twenty Pagans were arrested and pleaded guilty to racketeering, drugs, firearms, and conspiracy to commit murder, among other charges, following his undercover investigation. However, the gang has been on the rise in recent years, the ex-Federal said.
Croke was an ATF supervisor in Boston in 2008 with a history of undercover operations, including efforts to take out the Vagos and Mongols motorcycle gangs in Los Angeles, when a series of events plunged him into deep within New York’s pagans as they took hold more of the northeast. grass.
“Pagan members sold crystal meth and firearms, gang-raped women, brutalized rivals, and extorted businesses,” he wrote.
Croke saw the gang hit local businesses for old-fashioned protection money; watched in shock as an aging pagan named Tumbleweed – who “looked like Blue from the Will Ferrel movie ‘Old School’” – pull back his peg leg and hit a man with it outside a Long Island bar; and spent time behind bars maintaining cover after being arrested with a handgun.
He even helped pagans move the body of a suspected murder victim from grave to grave in the upstate. The discovery of the corpse near Swan Lake, 80 miles north of New York, led to a vigorous debate about law enforcement ethics within the ATF.
“The thought was that the guy was dead and would be no less a few months later,” Croke writes.
Croke often slept on the floor of a fetid house that was more of a sewer than a crusty gang in Middle Island, Long Island, “surrounded by grime and the smell of stale beer, weed and cigarettes” , he recalled, among pagans who “smelled like shit and snored like bears.
A pagan known as Hogman “devised a plan to brutally rape” an acquaintance one night while drinking beer and snorting cocaine in their filthy hideout, Croke writes. He risked his cover to warn “Tiffany” of the plan. She fled, never to be seen again.
Recruits are trained in gang history and lore, Croke says. The Pagans were founded by legendary biker Lou Dobkin in Maryland around 1957. They wear patches with Pagans in a medieval-style blue font on a white “cloud,” with red stitching around the edges.
The cloud patch comes with the image of the sword-wielding Norse god Surtr, plus a 1% patch to denote the most violent biker gangsters. Affiliated Pagans feature a blue-on-white number 16 in the same medieval font. P is the 16th letter of the alphabet.
The white cloud was originally intended to indicate white supremacy, Croke says, and the red adorns the blood spilled by gang members to defend their territory and values. In recent years, the gang has shelved much of its white supremacist rhetoric in the interest of expansion. NYC members are now mostly Hispanic.
The Pagans’ presence in the city expanded following a hostile takeover of the gang by Keith “Conan” Richter of Bay Shore, Long Island, in 2018. The ruthless outlaw spent 16 years in prison for ordering the murder of a Long Island strip club owner who refused to pay heathen extortion money in 1998. He was convicted of recent weapons charges in October and is currently serving a 36 month sentence.
The Pagans now have about 2,000 members nationwide with 12 chapters in New York, Croke says: four on Long Island, four upstate and four in New York. The Bronx has always been heathen territory in all five boroughs.
The archrival Hells Angels began squeezing their Bronx territory when they fled their infamous clubhouse at 77 East 3rd St. in the East Village in late 2019 for an abandoned American Legion Hall on Longstreet Avenue in Throggs Neck. The Pagans reacted quickly, firing up to 14 shots into their rival’s new digs in early January 2020.
Francisco Rosado, the leader of the Bronx chapter of the Pagans, whose face was entirely covered in prison-style tattoos, was gunned down on Holland Avenue in broad daylight a few months later in May 2020.
His two assassins wore masks and carried handguns with long silencers. Hells Angels honcho Frank Tatulli, 58, and club member Sayanon Thongthwath, 29, were arrested two months later and charged with the murder.
The Pagans are the more dangerous of the two notorious gangs, claims Croke.
“The Hells Angels, in my opinion, they’re like a business,” he said. “They have copyrights and doctors and lawyers who are members not involved in criminal activity. Pagans are just violent individuals. They are bad guys. They don’t have two cents to rub but they don’t care.
The Hells Angels “sleep in five-star hotels,” he said. “The pagans sleep in fields of earth.”
The gang’s recent public resume includes the beating of a Hells Angel’s baseball bat by Pagan Robert “Hellboy” DeRonde at a Newark gas station in 2018 and a shooting on the New Jersey turnpike in 2020 that led to the indictment last December of “high-rankingPagans Larry “Savage” Ortiz and Junius “Jayo” Aquino.
The gang has a diverse criminal operation. Pagans are “engaged in criminal activities such as arson, assault, bombing, extortion, and murder,” says DOJ in 2021 report on outlaw motorcycle gangs .
“Pagans bully, they have a history of white supremacy, they are misogynistic and they pump communities full of drugs and misery,” said Wedge, co-author of the book. “They are outlaws and some of them are downright subhuman.”