Tough guy prison guard and Iron Order patch holder Derrick “Kong” Duran is still free today. Duran probably murdered Mongols Motorcycle Club member Victor “Nubs” Mendoza last Saturday and he is unlikely to be charged.
A widely circulated photograph shows Duran at the scene of the crime with a gun in his right hand. Another photo of Duran talking on his cellphone while police patiently wait for him to finish and while one of Duran’s Iron Order coconspirators makes a “He Dah Man” gesture in Kong’s direction has also been making the rounds. But the Mongols who witnessed the crime have refused to cooperate with police. It is par for the course when the Iron Order pushes its weight around
Coverage of the murder in the last day has focused on dueling statements made by Las Vegas lawyer Stephen “Bowtie” Stubbs and Iron Order Motorcycle Club “Director of the Division of Legal Affairs” John C. “Shark” Whitfield. Stubbs represented the Mongols when they held their national run in Boulder City, Nevada in June 2012 and filed a federal civil rights lawsuits on behalf of complainants who included members of the Mongols that same month.
Whitfield is an accident attorney who dabbles in politics – he’s the former Nortonville, Kentucky City Attorney – but he seems to keep busy representing the Iron Order. How much Whitfield makes as the Iron Order fixer is a club secret as are all the club’s financial affairs. The Iron Order is certainly well healed. The club spent $300,000 on a party for members in 2014. Whitfield certainly deserves to be compensated for the fires he has smothered.
The Iron Order excellent public relations starkly contrasts with its cartoonish misogyny. The biography of long time club president Ray “Izod” Lubesky is larded with tales of “club groupies, floozies and whores.” He advises prospective Iron Order members “A full patch can get laid faster than any biker and that is a fact. It may not be with a Shania Twain look alike but it will have tits and pussy.”
He recounts going to visit an Iron Order chapter in Indiana and meeting “their clubhouse whore. The Kentucky chapter was pretty jealous of Indiana because they had their own clubhouse whore and we didn’t. We would soon have our own crew of ladies and our women would start a support club of their own, the Iron Order Maidens, but at this time we didn’t have any women and here Indiana had their own clubhouse whore. She stayed at their clubhouse that had no shower. To give her a shower they took her out back and used a garden hose. Now that’s class.”
The club’s quasi-official attitudes toward women have led to a couple of jobs for Shark in the last year. Late in 2014, a woman named Dawn N. Voss filed suit against the club’s “Gateway Chapter” in Southern Illinois. Voss characterized the Iron Order as “a business that has numerous members that congregate and gather together for periodic social gatherings in which said numerous members consume a large amount of alcohol, act hostile, and (are) belligerent with each other.” She complained that she had been beaten with a wooden paddle for sport and she sought damages greater than $150,000. Whitfield replied to the suit on January 28, 2015 after which it disappeared.
The Iron Order was also at the center of an investigation into the death Tonya M. Focht last June 19. Focht, a student at Alvernia University in Reading, was punched in the face and thrown into the path of an oncoming car as, according to published accounts, “two groups of people were fighting in the parking lot of the Bar-B-Q Pit on Penn Avenue in Lower Heidelberg Township.” The “groups” were members of the Reading chapter of the Iron Order and Focht’s boyfriend, a former Reading policeman named Mark Groff. After her death, Groff wrote on his Facebook page that Focht “lost her life…because she was attacked by members of the iron order mc cop club.” He also wrote, “I held Tonya Marie lying in their parking lot trying to save her.”
A month later, IOMC Reading chapter sergeant at arms Wayne “Mo” Ritchie, IOMC Reading chapter member Timothy “Munch” Martin and Groff were all charged with disorderly conduct and the local district attorney ruled that Focht’s death had been an accident.
The Iron Order’s blatant, almost satirical, sexism seems to be a reflection of Lubesky’s insecurities. Lubesky, who had a career as marketing manager for fast food companies, has bragged about being a former hang around with the American Outlaws Association and about besting Outlaws in fist fights.
His braggadocio, which is obviously his most important contribution to the Iron Order, reflects something Jason Nark and William Bender reported in the Philadelphia Daily News in 2011: “Authorities say that the soaring popularity of the Sons of Anarchy TV show – the most watched in FX’s history – could be contributing to a disturbing trend: Weekend warriors, no longer content to simply ride together, are forming small motorcycle clubs and dabbling in the outlaw lifestyle.”
And, as a matter of fact, Lubesky agreed. “That is exactly how and why the Iron Order Motorcycle Club was started…in a garage in Jeffersonville, Indiana,” he wrote in response Nark and Bender’s declaration. “We formed our own club with our own rules. We didn’t care what anyone else thought about us or what bullshit they spread about what we were doing. We swore to stick together and fought internally and externally every threat that came our way. We never backed down and never changed direction because some organization or club criticized and condemned us. We stood our ground and pushed forward whenever and wherever we found like-minded men with iron balls who wanted the same things we did. We found there were a whole lot of them out there all over the world.” He thought the Daily News made “a strong statement of what was going on in the world of clubs and we happened to pioneer some of it. For that I am profoundly proud.”
In the last 20 months, the Iron Order’s insistence on making its “own rules” in a 70-year-old, well established, generally peaceful, potentially violent subculture has had predictable results. The Iron Order’s actions seem deliberately provocative.
A Little History
In early June 2014, in anticipation of the Laconia Bike Week motorcycle rally in New Hampshire, Lubesky wrote Laconia Police Chief Christopher Adams:
“I represent a law-abiding motorcycle club called the Iron Order MC. I would like to inform you that we will be attending Bike Week in your city this week. We do not support any outlaw motorcycle clubs (1%ers) or abide by their protocol which has caused many problems for our club. We just ask, as free Americans, to be able to ride and be left alone. This is why I am contacting you. I am requesting your assistance. While there, if we encounter any problems with other clubs, can you assist us when we call upon you? Just keep an eye out for the protection of our members. We do our best in security but 1%ers are lowlife, dirty scum who will do anything to harm us. We will cooperate with all law enforcement. Unlike traditional clubs, we will testify when called upon. We will stay only in populated areas where there are witnesses. If you would like we can have our legal department contact you. The person in charge of our legal department is John Whitfield. Our local person in charge is Craig Carbal. His road name while in Laconia will be Playboy. Once again, we thank you for your cooperation in this matter.”
Later that month, in a confrontation that seems to have been contrived by the Iron Order, an Iron Order prospect named Kristopher Stone shot a Black Pistons patch holder named Zachariah “Nas T” Tipton in the head after Tipton punched him in the nose. No one was charged as a result of the homicide although, at a press conference six months later, State Attorney Angela Corey vilified both the Black Pistons and Tipton.
In a report issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Forearms and Explosives in July 2014, ATF analyst Jeremy Sheetz wrote:
“In southern and central Maryland, the Iron Horsemen MC is furious that the Iron Order continues to don a three-piece patch. In the past 2 months, there have been several bloody confrontations between the two. On February 28, 2014, both were involved in a melee at a strip club in Baltimore. Iron Horsemen members were equipped with bats, knives, MagLite flashlights and hammers. Even though nobody was killed, both OMGs suffered major injuries. One week later, as three Iron Order members were idling at a red light in Prince George’s County, they were viciously attacked by several car loads of suspected Iron Horsemen members. Two of the three Iron Order members were severely beaten with bats, ax handles and crow bars. The assailants were not wearing colors or indicia that depicted they were Iron Horsemen members, supporters or associates.
“The Iron Order is one of the fastest growing motorcycle clubs in the United States. Members wear a traditional three-piece patch with a State bottom rocker. The fact that they wear the State bottom rocker has infuriated the HAMC, Outlaws, Iron Horsemen, Pagans and Bandidos. More importantly, many of their members are police and corrections officers, active-duty military and/or government employees and contractors.
“Over the past four years, the Iron Order has had several violent confrontations with each of the aforementioned OMGs. Per the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), in 2013, an Iron Order member was run off the road by a Bandidos member. In Clarksville, Kentucky, the Iron Order and Outlaws have been involved in several violent altercations. On May 14, 2011, HAMC South Carolina Nomads member William Sosebee stabbed an Iron Order member outside a bar in South Carolina. Despite the violence, they continue to move into territory controlled by one of the Dominant Seven.”
Wait There’s More
Later that summer the Iron Order, which recruits heavily among active duty servicemen, was banned at both Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and China Lake Naval Air Station in California. Commanders of both bases described the Iron Order as a “gang.”
The Iron Order had bar fights in Baltimore with members of the Chosen Sons Motorcycle Club in both June 2014 and February 2015. The Chosen Sons was originally founded by Baltimore policemen. It includes policemen in its ranks and it conducts itself as proper outlaws should: which is to say fights are intended to settle things not initiate court cases. Typically Iron Order members testified against Chosen Sons but Chosen Sons did not testify against the Iron Order. Chosen Sons David Criles and Keith Romans were charged with second-degree assault, disorderly conduct and conspiracy. Christopher Jansen was charged with first and second-degree assault, theft and robbery. Criles was a detective with the Baltimore Police Department’s Southeastern District. Romans and Jansen were both retired Baltimore cops.
Three people were wounded outside the Echo Lounge in Meridian, Mississippi on February 28, 2015 in a gunfight between members of the Iron Order and the Pistoleros Motorcycle Club. Whitfield visited Meridian a day after the shooting.
Last December 23, a military policemen at Fort Polk, Louisiana who is also an Iron Order patch holder fired at members of Los Solitarios Motorcycle Club from a moving car in Leesville, Louisiana. The Los Solitarios never filed charges against the the Iron Order members in the car so no one was ever charged. The shooter had previously filed charges against three Los Solitarios following a fist fight at a gas station in Leesville last April 18.
This pattern seems likely to continue.
People And The Beast
In a story published today in the Daily Beast Whitfield told M.L. Nestel “his outnumbered brothers…were forced to duke it out against almost 100 Mongols.”
“They were legitimately scared to death and they did what they had to do,” Whitfield said.
“The reality is these guys feared for their life without a doubt. If you fear for your life it doesn’t make a difference whether you’re a cop or whether you wash dishes at Denny’s,” Shark told Nestel “That’s absolute fantasy.”
Shark also told People magazine, “Our guys were afraid for their lives…. You have almost 60 Mongols that are jumping these guys and they are known to be a one percent club and they don’t care about violence. They were just trying to get out of there. They were convinced they were going to die.”
So far, the Mongols haven’t issued a single press release.