Before reading Under and Alone by William McQueen, I thought the Hell’s Angels was the baddest of the bad ass outlaw motorcycle gangs. It turns out that beginning in the 70’s a 17-year turf war was waged between the San Bernadino based Hell’s Angels and a gang of East L.A. Chicano bikers known as the Mongols. The Mongols kicked the Angels’ asses.
The Mongols became associated with arson, theft, drugdealing, shake-downs, and above all, violence. It was hard to make any charges stick because witnesses developed amnesia or disappeared, as did evidence in the custody of police, (bought off by the Mongols).
Enter Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Fire arms agent William McQueen, who had worked for the bureau in under cover operations before. In an investigation that would last 2½ years, McQueen was able to infiltrate the Mongols’ World as biker Billy St.John, drinking, fighting and riding shoulder to shoulder with them first as a pledge, and eventually as Treasurer of the California chapter.
The life of a pledge is worth little or nothing to the Mongols. Failure to perform any request from a brother Mongol, let alone if there was any suspicion of the pledge not being who he said he was resulted in, at the least, a beating and expulsion from the club, or—the final solution—a bullet in the back.
This could have been just another undercover story but this is what kept this book on the New York Times Bestseller List for several weeks: Agent McQueen puts us in his shoes. You feel the fear he lived with every day for 2½ years. You also feel the loneliness of the under cover agent. He could talk only to Agent John Ciccone, his contact at the Bureau who had his back.
He eventually lost his girl friend because of neglect, and his
sons and ex-wife had to be entered into the witness protection program
and be moved half-way across the country.
This is just one of many reasons why the lines between where his duties lie becomes blurred. At the end of 2½ years, he is tired. He still has to keep up the lie every day, or be killed. Yet he feels a kinship, a brotherhood in the Mongols, that he doesn’t with the ATF agents. He also knows that the Bureau is pressing for results.
At the New Year’s Day run, lined up with 100 or so Harleys,
going on the annual ride, biker Billy St. John feels like he could just
ride off with them and never look back.
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