Hells No: Government Denied in Bid to Cop Mongols' Logo
The Mongols, a notorious California motorcycle gang formed after its founding members were rejected from Hells Angels in the 1970s for being Latino, caught a big break this week in federal court.
U.S. District Judge Otis Wright "regrettably" ruled in favor of the Mongol Motorcycle Club on Thursday in the first-ever government attempt to gain control of a gang's identity through a court order.
"This patch is a central element of the identity of the gang. We're trying to dismantle a criminal organization and we're trying to use whatever tools we can to do it," a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in L.A. told the LA Times upon bringing the case last week. "In this case it shows our determination to go after this organization as a whole — top to bottom leadership — and after the proceeds of criminal activity."
But Judge Wright was resolved to rule for the gang versus the government because the 2008 racketeering indictment that sparked the initiative to strip the Mongols of its logo failed to mention the gang by name.
"Wright granted the biker gang's petition and vacated a preliminary order of forfeiture," according to the AP. "Prosecutors had sought to take control of the Mongol name and the insignia that shows a ponytailed Genghis Khan-like figure aboard a chopper."
We wrote in 2008:
This morning, over 1,000 officers across Southern California and in five different states arrested around 38 alleged Mongol members under federal racketeering charges. And that's not all, the government seeks to trademark the group's name and branding. "Not only are we going after the Mongols' motorcycles, we're going after their very identity," U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O'Brien told the Times. "We are using all the tools at our disposal to crush this violent gang."
Mongols: 1, U.S.: 0.