LAS VEGAS (AP) — At least 28 people have been arrested in Nevada and six other states after a four-year undercover investigation that started with a probe of outlaw motorcycle gangs dealing drugs and weapons in and around Las Vegas, authorities announced Thursday.
In all, state and federal grand juries handed up 32 indictments of people who police identified as members of the Vagos, Bandidos and Chosen Few motorcycle gangs, and two Vagos offshoots known as the Green Machine and Wicked Riderz, Las Vegas police Officer Bill Cassell said.
"These were violent criminals involved in primarily narcotics trafficking and the sale of illegal firearms," Cassell said. He said the Nevada case sparked spin-off investigations and additional arrests in California, Utah, Arizona, Texas, New York and Hawaii.
The investigation was aimed at the Vagos gang when it was launched following high-profile clashes between rival Hells Angels and Mongols members, including a deadly 2002 casino shootout during at a motorcycle rally in Laughlin and a 2008 wedding chapel brawl in Las Vegas, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
The shooting during the 2002 Laughlin River Run killed three biker club members and injured more than a dozen other people. The melee at A Special Memory Wedding Chapel left six people hurt, including two who were stabbed. Trial is set to start in August for some of the 13 men charged in that case.
U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden, Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson and Joseph Riehl, special agent in charge of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives office in San Francisco, told reporters Thursday that the initial investigation widened after the ATF became involved. They dubbed it "Operation Pure Luck."
In the end, police and federal agents reported seizing 7.5 pounds of methamphetamine, 161 grams of cocaine, 2,000 prescription pills, 43 firearms and $8,100.
Assistant Sheriff Greg McCurdy of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said U.S. marshals, police in Henderson and North Las Vegas, sheriff's deputies in Los Angeles County, and police in Montebello east of Los Angeles were part of the investigation.
Cassell said the seven men arrested Thursday on state charges included one in Henderson, three in Las Vegas and three in Hawaii.
The other 25 people in the case faced federal indictments.