Infamous biker gang targets US police
THE FBI calls it "a ruthless criminal organisation" which deals in "guns, drugs, and death". But it turns out that one of America's most notorious biker gangs is also pretty handy at DIY explosives.
Police in California have arrested 30 members of the Vagos Motorcycle Club, a group of 300 Harley-Davidson riders, amid allegations they have been trying to use home-made booby traps to maim and kill detectives.
In recent weeks, a series of potentially deadly devices, built largely from materials bought at local hardware stores, were discovered at the homes and workplaces of a police gang- enforcement unit in Hemet, on the eastern fringes of Los Angeles.
The Vagos gang, also known as 'The Green Nation', is suspected of planting them.
One contraption consisted of a natural-gas pipeline which was shoved through a hole drilled into the roof of a police unit's headquarters.
It filled the building with highly-flammable vapour which, in the words of an officer, "would have taken out half a city block" if they had not smelled the danger before anyone was hurt.
Another, set at the same location, saw a rifle rigged up so that it would go off when anyone tried to enter the security gate outside. An officer triggered the mechanism, firing a bullet that missed his face by eight inches.
In a third assassination attempt, Vagos members are suspected of attaching an explosive device to the underside of a policeman's car. He escaped without injury because he noticed that his vehicle had been tampered with.
On Wednesday morning, the police struck back. In scenes straight out of a Marlon Brando movie, cops launched dawn raids on the group at addresses across southern California. They seized large quantities of weapons and drugs, and also discovered a methamphetamine laboratory.
The State of California has offered a $200,000 (€146,000) reward to anyone willing to testify against the group.