The Metamorphosis Of John Ciccone

December 23, 2009

All Posts, News

Five years ago, in Grand Jury testimony legally obtained by this page, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Special Agent John Ciccone testified under oath that the Mongols Motorcycle Club is not a racket.

What may be most revealing about the essentially corrupt prosecution of the current case against the Mongols is that Ciccone gave the testimony at the inception of the felony case California v. Fernandez. And, the events which led to the prosecution a Mongol named Mario Fernandez are exactly the same events which constitute Overt Act 1 in the indictment US v. Cavazos et al.

After reading both Ciccone’s Grand Jury testimony of July 7th, 2004 and numerous sworn statements the ATF Agent has made during Operation Black Rain, a reasonable person might conclude that Ciccone either metamorphosized into someone new or he committed perjury.

Violence And Racketeering

In October 2009, after a three-year-long investigation orchestrated by Ciccone the Mongols were charged with the federal crime of being a “Racketeer Influenced Criminal Organization.” The Department of Justice has been accusing motorcycle clubs of being “rackets” since 1982 but until now the charge has always been made with a wink and a smile.

Since the term was coined in 1927, “racketeering” has always been used to define a narrow range of highly lucrative, illegal and self-perpetuating businesses. At the time the Federal RICO statute was passed, racketeering meant either a “protection racket” which extorted cash payments from vulnerable small businesses; gambling (which is now a routine business of government) combined with loan sharking (which used to mean charging the interest rates which credit card companies now routinely charge;) or running a vertically integrated monopoly on addictive drugs, particularly heroin. The RICO law also allowed the inclusion of certain otherwise legitimate businesses as part of a “criminal enterprise.” Usually these businesses were bars, restaurants and bowling alleys through which illegal profits were “laundered.”

Really, until the current Mongols case, nobody was stupid enough to believe that what was objectionable about motorcycle clubs was that they were rackets. Plausibly, in the last forty years a majority of Americans have found motorcycle clubs in particular and bikers in general to be offensive but never because they were racketeers.

Bikers have always regarded themselves as idealistic and alienated but never as materialistic. No one has ever joined a motorcycle club because they thought it was a good way to get rich quick.

Good citizens did not like bikers because they saw them as violent, depraved, hoodlums who dressed like Nazi pirates. People feared bikers and sometimes demanded that something “be done about them” because they were afraid of biker violence.

And that apprehension was grounded in truth. Bikers, especially motorcycle club members, have always used violence as a boundary marker. In 1967 Hunter Thompson described outlaw bikers to ABC like this: “They get together and they can frighten people who might ordinarily frighten them.”

Operation Ivan

Ciccone orchestrated an earlier investigation of the Mongols called Operation Ivan and by all accounts that investigation resulted from concerns about a series of “violent assaults” allegedly carried out by members of the motorcycle club.

In a recent interview William Queen, the chief ATF Undercover investigator in Operation Ivan emphasized the violence of the Mongols but never once mentioned that he thought they were a racket.

“They had that violent reputation” Queen said. “They’re about violence. John Ciccone wanted to stop them,” (because they were violent.) At the outset of Operation Ivan, the ATF, which is a federal police force, had no reason to believe that any of the Mongols were breaking any federal laws at all, let alone the federal law against racketeering. The ATF thought the investigation would result in positive publicity and was guessing that some Mongols were breaking federal gun laws.

“What we were hoping to do,” Queen explained, “was get next to the club where we could buy guns from guys in the club. Where we could buy dope from guys in the club. Where we could identify or maybe even see some of the assaults that were occurring there.”

Ultimate Fighting Championships Brawl

The initial “Overt Act” of “racketeering” in the most recent Mongols indictment has been officially described in a California court as follows:

“On March 16, 2002, defendant and other members of the Mongols Motorcycle Club (Mongols) attended the Ultimate Fighting Championships, a boxing-type event held at the Morongo Indian Reservation. The event was held in a large tent, with approximately 2,200 people attending. The Mongols consisted of a large group of bikers wearing motorcycle black jackets and black shirts, bandannas, and patches displaying their group insignia. About 50 to 75 Mongols sat together in a section that also included other spectators.

“During one of the scheduled bouts, the referee called a foul because one of the Ultimate Fighters struck the other fighter in the groin. When the referee paused the fight, several Mongols stood up and threw plastic cups of beer toward the boxing ring. Spectators sitting between the Mongols and the ring stood up and looked at the Mongols.

“One such spectator, Alex Ledesma, was hit by flying beer. He stood up and threw his beer back into the group of Mongols. A Mongol named Lucifer pointed his finger at Alex, approached him, and said, ‘You.’ Alex said, ‘Forget about it,’ grinned, and exchanged words with Mongols, Marco Antonio Reyes and another man, presumably defendant (Fernandez.) Alex’s brother, Mario Ledesma, who was with Alex, told the two men he did not want any trouble.

“Defendant hit Alex behind the head. While on the floor, someone hit him with a chair and stomped on his face with a biker’s boot. Mario was also hit numerous times but could not see who was attacking him because he was on the floor trying to cover up.

“This led to other fights breaking out and chaos, resulting in a melee and riot situation, with over 100 officers responding to the scene. A group of Mongols rushed toward the ring. Mongols fought with other spectators and threw chairs.”

Violence For Profit Or Respect

The important legal question about the Mongols and violence is whether the club is violent for profit.

The indictment US versus Cavazos et al. argues that the Mongols Motorcycle Club is first and foremost a drug trafficking racket and that the club maintains its drug monopoly through violence. So far, scores of Mongols defendants have been coerced into agreeing to that assertion.

“Mongols members and leaders frequently engage in the distribution of narcotic drugs, especially methamphetamine and cocaine, as a source of income, both within the organization and to outside customers and associates,” the indictment flatly states. “Proceeds from drug-trafficking are then owed to the Mongols leadership and ‘Mother Chapter’ and collected in the form of “dues” and membership fees. Large-scale drug traffickers within the organization are often ‘taxed’ at a higher rate within the organization, and their membership in and payments to the larger Mongols organization are used as a means to protect them from the same types of penalties and ‘taxes’ that would ordinarily be claimed by rival street gangs and Mexican Mafia (aka ‘La Eme‘) representatives in the areas controlled by those rival gangs. Mongols members also are authorized to call on other Mongols and Mongols leadership to enforce the collection of proceeds owed from their narcotics customers.”

The idea the government has been trying to prove for the last fourteen months, is that the Mongols must never let down their guard of violence lest they be perceived as weak by their competitors in the illegal narcotics business. “Mongols gang members also enforce the authority of the Mongols by directing attacks against…members of the general public who might defy or unwittingly come into contact with the Mongols in a way that might be deemed ‘disrespectful’ to the organization. Persons in conflict with, or who might be perceived to have shown disrespect to, Mongols may be beaten severely or even killed by being kicked repeatedly with steel-toed boots, stabbed or shot.”

Ciccone Speaks To The Grand Jury

The notion that the Mongols are a violent business has largely been substantiated by sworn statements and testimony of Special Agent Ciccone to multiple grand juries, judges and federal attorneys. Ciccone has also perpetuated the argument to numerous friendly media outlets.

The fact is though either Ciccone is guilty of blatant and cynical sophistry or his thinking has radically evolved. This is what Ciccone said under oath in July 2004:

Ciccone: That is really what the Mongols are about. They are involved in numerous assaults, stabbings, and required to assist one another. And that is why you rarely see
a one-on-one fight. It is always 12 on one, 13 on one. And they just send the message: “That is how we are.” And it is just the fear thing and intimidation thing.

State Attorney: How does respect play into the Mongols? I mean, the term “respect for the gang” and “respect for other members of the gang?” And, if they are disrespected, how does that play all into the gang mentality?

Ciccone: Well, it is a big thing for the Mongols. Like I said, they are not in it to make money. (Emphasis added by this page.) They are in it just for that one thing alone, fear and intimidation. And they want the respect. And that’s how they get it.

At no point in his testimony as an authority on motorcycle clubs in general and on the Mongols in particular does Ciccone ever so much as suggest that the Mongols are violent as part of their “racketeering activity.” But seeing things as they actually are was not enough to “shut down the Mongols.” So Ciccone learned to look at things as they might possibly be.

In comments made on this site last June Ciccone said “the Mongols escaped relatively unscathed,” after Operation Ivan. And, about the evolution in his thinking he added, “John Ciccone was not nearly as smart and wily as he is now….”

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16 Responses to “The Metamorphosis Of John Ciccone”

  1. Mr. America Says:

    Well, Johnny has morph-ed himself into forever being known as Johnny Coo-Coo. Going back through old study and research, didn’t Ted Bundy always refer to himself in second and third person? In an attempt to disassociate himself with the attrocities he committed. And also, attempted to mislead, using a multiple personality disorder. Johnny Coo-Coo’s invention of T-Dogg, may also be an attempt at a possible defense when he is held accountable for his illegal actions. And, is himself brought to trial. Of course, he’ll probably be given an opportunity to retire under some medical condition associated with stress and anguish (PTSD?). And, collect his pension and medical disability social security. All the while, innocent people remain incarcerated for crimes they did not commit. Or, being held without being charged, while their Right to a Speedy Trial gets thrown out the window.(Because of him).

    It’s my professional opinion, the entire Bureaucracy of the ATF as a living, breathing, body of it’s own, has been completely misled and is going astray. Running on derranged beliefs and misguidance. Simular to perhaps, the Jim Jones incident of the 1970’s. They have isolated themselves to such an extreme, they are preventing even the Senate from having any type of oversight. Who, do they answer to? Well, noone right now. Have they (as a whole) reached a level of possible ethics violations? A level of insanity, perhaps? Yes, they have. Do these agents admit to over-the-top adrenaline addiction and stimulation? Also admitting, to taking over the counter stimulants, to keep up? Yes, they do. Would that lead to overactive dillusional brain activity. Yes, it would. Would it lead to extreme glorification of oneself for personal gain and recognition in the extreme-competitive-world of our federal bureaucracy? Yes, it would. Do these more-famous examples of our ATF agents show any classic signs of Dillusional Paranormal Psychosis and Paranoid Schizophrenia? Absolutely!

  2. docb Says:

    here’s a note for all brothers locked down on this hilliday

    Twas the night before Christmas
    And all through the Big House
    Not a creature was stirring
    Not even a louse
    They gave us pistols and turkeys
    Carved out of wood
    In hopes that next year
    We’d all be real good

    Strength, Hope and Defiance to all
    And to all a good night


  3. ciscokid Says:

    well, well… anyone surprised ? if this helps one brother (hopefully more)then im happy. keep up the good work rebel, with respect, the KID

  4. Not Surprised Says:

    Mr America:

    “It’s my professional opinion, the entire Bureaucracy of the ATF as a living, breathing, body of it’s own, has been completely misled and is going astray. Running on derranged beliefs and misguidance.”

    You are not to far off base. Since being folded into DOJ, FBI and ATF literally get into fights and shouting matches at crime scenes as to who has jurisdiction. I can post the GAO Audit reports citing specifics if you want.

    In the Post 9/11 and Post Waco/Ruby Ridge world, ATF is still trying to define its purpose, believe it or not. There are roughly 5,000 employees of which only a fraction do more than paperwork tracking.

    John Ciccone is the byproduct of chance.

    Not until Reagan (who had plenty of first hand dealings with a major CA 1% club climate) entered the White House was there much concentrated effort at the Federal level regarding MC’s. This was mostly handled by the FBI.

    In 1991, an ATF agent who is now Deputy Assistant Director, Steve Martin, did the firt full scale ATF UC operation against a club- the Warlocks in FL.

    It got a lot of headlines and to my knowledge, Martin is the only field agent who ever penetrated a 1% club to be promoted out of the field.

    Since ATF has the broadest powers of any Federal investigative body, it can run operations independent of DEA, FBI, ATF began to cultivate a niche market with “biker gangs”.

    Without question, ATF is the most hated LEO operation in this country. period. Its own agents have filed hundreds of EEOC and Civil lawsuits and are in fact seeking Class Action status as we speak.

    Enter John Ciccone. Steve Martin ended up in California. He is without a doubt, one of the most hated (by his own agents) executive in ATF.

    But his success with the Warlocks case made good copy and ATF managed to “invade” an area that traditionally was prosecuted and investigated by the FBI.

    Since the West Coast has the HQ of so many 1% clubs, it was only natural that ATF develop and mount operations from there.

    Time magazine did a scathing editorial not too long ago about how ATF seems to have gravitated toward “politically correct” investigations- racist groups and biker gangs. Groups traditionally that the American public did not care about.

    Ciccone and his pal Kozlowski more or less did not know what they were doing when the first “big” biker case against a 1% CA club, but they learned very quickly. San Francisco had Vincent Cefalu who did some time under Steve Martin. Cefalu as you may recall, dropped a dime on his fellow LEO for instigating an illegal wire tap.

    Ciccone is ambitious and a forward thinker. He knew enough to plant himself firmly in “new territory” and with virtually no competition from DEA or FBI, it was not difficult to buy a gun or two to establish an investigative cause to run an operation against a 1% club.

    FBI never got an agent inside any club, to my knowledge. They did once, have an informant who was already a full patch member.

    So in the federal food chain, “bikers” has been relegated now to ATF. Nothing else brings in the press and world wide headlines like a good biker bust, we all know this and so does ATF.

    Jay Dobyns and William Queen in their own way, gave ATF good PR, and that both of them ended up screwed by ATF and quitting and filing lawsuits, pisses ATF off more than anything.

    As an agency, one of the fastest roads to advancement is to sell out your fellow agents. I kid you not.

    Ciccone has made headlines for his bosses. That is his stock in trade, period.

  5. Not Surprised Says:

    This Time article from October 2009 touches on the report I mentioned above. ATF and FBI agents literally threatened each other with arrest!

    FBI and ATF Dont get Along

    In April 2005, sheriff’s deputies reached a suburban Seattle home in time to prevent a firebomb from detonating. But there was nothing the sheriff’s department could do to defuse another volatile situation at the site: a feud between the explosives teams that showed up including the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

    The attempted arson was the apparent handiwork of the Earth Liberation Front, a designated domestic terrorist group. But trouble at the scene emerged when FBI and ATF explosives experts seemed to believe their own agencies should head the investigation, recalls Sergeant John Urquhart, a spokesman for the King County sheriff’s office. “It was clear that there was something going on. There was tension between the groups of ATF agents and FBI agents,” Urquhart tells TIME. (See pictures of crime in middle America.)

    That fight for jurisdiction was a “low point” for federal agents in Seattle, part of a long-simmering national rivalry that has festered since Congress moved the ATF from the Treasury Department to the Department of Justice (DOJ) after Sept. 11, according to an audit of explosives investigations that was released on Friday by the DOJ’s Office of the Inspector General. Acrimony between the agencies has been common knowledge for years, but the report represents the most comprehensive public accounting to date.

    The audit found that the conflict has led to confusion at crime sites, arguments in front of state and local investigators, tit-for-tat recrimination and even a threat from the FBI to arrest an ATF agent. Each agency trains separately and has its own explosives database and lab. Agents race to explosions to claim the lead in investigations, and some managers are unclear about jurisdiction. According to the audit, two ambiguous memos in 2004 and 2008 failed to clarify the relationship. “These disputes can delay investigations, undermine federal and local relationships, and may project to local agency responders a disjointed federal response to explosives incidents,” the report said. (See pictures of the Branch Davidian siege at Waco and other cults that went wacko.)

    The impact of the bickering is more than unseemly public flare-ups, mixed signals and muddled investigations; the conflict could hamper the government’s ability to effectively protect against terrorism, the report said. In early 2007, President George W. Bush signed a Homeland Security directive known as HSPD-19 that required Executive Branch agencies to develop a unified approach “to aggressively deter, prevent, detect, protect and respond” to terrorists’ efforts to use explosives in the U.S. The report concluded that, unless the DOJ addressed the problem, “competition between the components on fundamental issues involving explosives investigations and lead agency authority will likely continue and impede the progress of HSPD-19 implementation.”

    Top agency officials claim that major conflicts have stopped and that recent disputes were isolated incidents. The auditors found otherwise: “We found explosives incident disputes between the FBI and ATF that were recent, significant and attributable to more than personality conflicts.”

    One recent incident was in December 2008, when the agencies feuded over a Woodburn, Ore., bombing in which a device outside a bank killed a local bomb technician and a police chief. In June 2007, agents fought in front of state and local bomb-squad personnel at a blast site in the Mojave Desert. The ATF claimed it was notified too late for agents to work the scene, while the FBI claimed that ATF responded late, then wanted to take over the scene. Other recent incidents took place in Baltimore, Phoenix, New York City and San Diego.

    The agencies don’t dispute the problems. In a joint statement, FBI Assistant Director Michael Kortan and ATF Assistant Director W. Larry Ford agreed with the assessment and its 15 recommendations — all of them so far unresolved, according to the report. “We remain committed to identifying best practices associated with training, information-sharing and investigative response for explosive incidents,” they said.

  6. Mr. America Says:

    To: Not Surprised and all others interested in preserving America’s Freedoms,

    Thanks for your insight. It seems perhaps the ATF should be a service Under the Guidelines of the FBI. It was believed by me the ATF was part of the Science Lab. Branch of the FBI? The FBI, I thought always had precedence over all other LEO’s? When, called in. I do remember something about the Public Embarrassment these two agencies caused each other some years back. From a mere Citizen’s point of view of this great country of ours, I really don’t know. However, as a Citizen of the United States I expect all LEO’s to do their professional best in protecting the rest of us. Without violating anyones Rights. Which, I don’t think is happening at this time, in our history. I don’t think the common citizen hates cops and distrusts them, for being cops. They hate and distrust them for being lieing, cheating, dirty rats in an attempt at self-glorification for rank and status. And now, profit. And killing some guy (James Hicks) in an attempt to sieze his clothing and other souveniers is Just-Over-The-Top. And Waco? That was The Biggest law enforcement fuck-up I hope I ever see. Of course, thats what happens when politics gets involved and peoples (Chidrens) Rights and safety get thrown out the window. (Not saying, The Branch Davidians weren’t abusing children). And now, with a Bureaucratic Election year coming up. It would be best for some of our Free-Spirited brothers of the wind, to lay low. Until the professionals and constitutional scholars can get this mess cleared up. Not just for you, but for all Americans. Merry Christmas

  7. YYZ Skinhead Says:

    Mr. America,

    It’s widely known in black communities that black pigs like to abuse black civilians because they can get away with it. You are 100% correct. The average American doesn’t trust pigs. By “pigs” I don’t mean cops who don’t intimidate civilians, murder the children of cultists (Ruby Rudge, Waco), beat and shoot people they don’t like, destroy the lives of people who ride motorcycles, etc. I mean cops who act like PIGS.

    YYZ Skinhead

  8. Rebel Says:

    Dear Cisco,

    My pleasure.


  9. Snow Says:

    First let me wish all here a Merry Christmas and a prosperous and happy New Year. Looking at the history of the ATF, FBI, CIA, and most police agencies today they seem to be prime examples of Organized Crime, and should be labeled as an enemy of the state and imprisoned under RICO, they entice others to commit crimes, aide them in commission of those crimes then have the nerve to arrest the people they convinced to commit those crimes. This system is so un American in every way, Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness …Ban the Fed…….

  10. DocB Says:

    thanks Mr troyez. …..
    Couldn’t remember where them turkeys and pistols came from.
    John Prine a good ole Kentucky boy

    Have a verry merry Mr troyez

    Yer Pall

  11. troyez Says:

    If you thought the ATF, FBI, CIA were a threat to individual American freedoms, check this out:

    I’ll take being hassled by American LEOs over internationals any day of the week! F’ing Obama!

  12. Snow Says:

    Troyez thanks for the link, pretty scary shit, I think you said it best; F”ing Obama. I will never understand why he hates this country so much, there’s nowhere else in the world that would put a stupid ass like him in charge….

  13. troyez Says:

    Ol’ John Prine is from Maywood, IL (Chicago suburb), his grandparents are from KY.


  14. DocB Says:

    Dear Troyez:
    I stand corrected. Thanks. He spent a lot of time in western KY when he was a kid, visiting family. Maybe summer vacations or something,(Probably where I got the idea) but he’s not from KY.
    He’s a pretty straight out guy, and writes real music about real shit.
    Guess that’s why I like his music.
    Thanks also for the links.

  15. DOCB Says:

    for what it’s worth

    Getting back on topic: check out this web site. the name says it all;

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