Vagos Hells Angels Shootings

September 26, 2011

All Posts, News

The simmering dispute between the Vagos Motorcycle Club and the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club boiled over into public view over the weekend in Sparks, Nevada.

Jeffrey “Jethro” Pettigrew, 51, President of the San Jose charter of the Hells Angels was killed in a gunfight on the casino floor just outside Trader Dick’s Lounge at John Ascuaga’s Nugget Casino Resort. According to police, Pettigrew was killed during a fight between about 60 Vagos and a dozen Hells Angels last Friday, September 23 at about 11:20 p.m.

Two Vagos, Leonard Ramirez, 45, and Diego Garcia, 28 were also wounded. Garcia was shot in the leg and Ramirez was shot in the abdomen. Police have accused a Hells Angel named Cesar Villagrana, 36, of assault with a deadly weapon and possession of a stolen firearm.

The next morning, September 24, a Vago named Shane Smith, 40 was shot by unknown assailants in a dark blue BMW 3 series sedan while Smith was walking on Victorian Avenue in Sparks. Police have failed to connect that shooting to any Hells Angels.

The Police Already Know

The Vagos have been, arguably, the preeminent club in northern Nevada for more than 20 years. When the Hells Angels patched over the Reno Renegades in the late 1990s that charter became the Nevada Nomads rather than the Reno Angels or Nevada Angels out of respect for the Vagos. Out of respect for the Angels, at around the same time, the Vagos agreed to refrain from establishing any new chapters in Arizona where Ralph “Sonny” Barger, long the eminence gris of the Hells Angels, currently resides.

That understanding was not a quid pro quo agreement and was not a statement of territoriality, although police may intend to construe the mutual respect between the two clubs more cynically.

This mutually respectful understanding between the two motorcycle clubs began to go south about two years ago. Another club named the Renegades appeared in northern Nevada and that club had friendly relations with the Nevada Nomads. The Vagos established a chapter in Bullhead City, Arizona and in Chino Valley, Arizona.

The Angels had previously maintained the Skull Valley charter of their club in Chino Valley.

More Drama

In June 2009, according to police, five Hells Angels and two Desert Road Riders attacked two Vagos at Lazy Harry’s Sunshine Saloon in Bullhead City. Six months later, Vagos and Hells Angels were reported to have brawled in a parking lot in mellow Santa Cruz, California. The Bullhead City brawl prompted a six month long campaign of police harassment against all bikers in Mojave County, Arizona.

Late in 2009, Barger led a large pack of bikes into Kingman, Arizona, near Bullhead City, to challenge a local no-colors policy. Many of his fellow riders were Hells Angels. Barger was cited for speeding on US 40 coming down off the Mogollon Rim. Because his autograph is valuable and because he refuses to enrich cops Barger was briefly detained for refusing to sign his ticket.

Eventually, Yavapai and Mohave County Sheriffs and the Kingman, Flagstaff, Lake Havasu and Bullhead City Police carried out a series of dramatic raids and arrested seven men for felony riot for allegedly being in Lazy Harry’s Sunshine Saloon at the time of the fight.

Drama With Guns

Vagos and Hells Angels engaged in a prolonged gunfight in Chino Valley in August, 2009. At the time, Vagos members explained they were on their way to a birthday party and were attacked as they drove past an Angels barbecue. Angels have not commented on that incident.

The Vagos Motorcycle Club has been growing rapidly and establishing new chapters in the last year. On August 13, Vagos and members of the Galloping Goose Motorcycle Club engaged in a confrontation at a truck stop near mile marker 150 on US Route 44 in Pulaski County, Missouri.

Many of the Vagos in Missouri are former members of the Midwest Drifters Motorcycle Club which generally maintains cordial relations with the Galloping Goose and El Forastero Motorcycle Clubs.

Police allege that confrontation also involved gun play and that Missouri State Police had to pursue the fleeing motorcyclists for seven miles down Interstate 44 until the pack finally heard the sound of the sirens over the roar of their engines and promptly pulled over.


, , , ,

14 Responses to “Vagos Hells Angels Shootings”

  1. AVAGOVFFV Says:

    Hmmmmm interesting analogy Rebel, there is nothing that the ATF does or will do that surprises me or ever will. Even when I read of machine guns being stuck in the faces of the elderly and that of children while asleep then forced out in to a yard after being zip tied and terrorized.

    Class act right there I tell you.


  2. Rebel Says:

    Dear El Jefe,


    I can’t tell you how I know this even in vague terms. Ciccone is going to be “unavailable to testify” during October and November. He likes to investigate clubs with a strong presence in LA. I hope I don’t have brain lock here, but off the top of my head that probably means, the Mongols, the Vagos and the Angels. Ciccone was busy harrassing the shit out of the Mongols until July or August 2009. Then he started to do something else.

    Some people who read this know I thought there was a Vagos investigation going on two years ago. I sounded like the little boy who cried wolf so maybe I am just full of shit. Trust me, I am not trying to call anything here.

    The Angels run a very tight ship and are tough to infiltrate. It seems to me that Angels investigations start with a disgruntled member. The Vagos, and the Green machine, have been expanding pretty rapidly for awhile. I think it is easier to get agents into an expanding club than a stable one. More than a year ago, when the whole Hemet Hoax happened, my first thought was that a couple of politicians stepped all over an ongoing ATF investigation. There was an ATF investigation and so far it has yielded a bullshit charge against a college professor named Skinz Kinzey.

    The ATF plays the press really well. If everybody knows about the tensions between the Vagos and the Angels then the ATF knows, too. I don’t know how much of a part the ATF played in what happened in Sparks if they played any part. I know there were a lot of trafffic stops so somebody was looking for something. Maybe they were routine. I do know that the ATF likes to try to raise the negative public profile of a club before they bust them, so that the bust becomes a more dramatic event. I think the negative public profile of the Angels and Vagos just went up.

    And, Ciccone will be unavailable to testify in October and November. I don’t know why. Maybe he is sick. Maybe he wants to go to Tahiti and work on a book like Robert Louis Stevenson. Maybe something else.

    You guys can all read the same signs I read. What do you think?

    I think everybody should assume his phone is tapped.


  3. El Jefe Says:

    Rebel Says:
    Dear El Jefe,
    The press accounts may or may not be accurate.
    >>> Very true I agree 100%, I was in Reno when all this broke out. The word I got from reliable sources who were at the Nuggett, was very similar to what the newspaper had printed.

    The more and more I think of this I suspect a rat(ATF). Last year when Street Vibes was broken into two different areas, the 81 booth was placed in Sparks where it just so happens that the greens stayed in the area and/or at the Nuggett.
    This year same thing 81 booth at the Nuggett.

    Could it be the city had help from someone or ogranzation to have the two clubs in the same area so that something could jump off?

    FYI: Welcome back Rebel

  4. Not Surprised Says:

    Marine Rider:


  5. Marine Rider Says:

    Not Surprised,

    You just walk in the front door. I stay at the Nugget when I am in Reno and have been there 20 or so times. Never seen anyone get searched. Security is mainly to keep the casino from getting ripped off at the tables and slots. I don’t think they are prepared for much else.

    Much respect Rebel. 61 second club here.

  6. Not Surprised Says:

    Never been to a casino in NV. Someone enlighten me, please. How can you walk into a casino armed? I’m thinking maybe next to a bank, this would be the last place you’d be allowed to carry.

  7. roach Says:

    as a.” green” person who was there, id,say ur doing an excellent job. much respect

  8. Stroker Says:

    Rebel………I don’t doubt either green or red & white will seek to
    portray their respective clubs in a positive light, and anyone, like you, who writes about it, will probably be nit-picked. I, like you, have been following every scrap of news I can about this incident. I think you’ve done a pretty fair job of reporting things as they are, including a basically non-partisan history of events leading up to this
    debacle. Please know many of us out here count on you to relay the truth, of course as you see it, but so far, I think you’re doing a helluva job. Keep the faith brother. Jethro, R.I.P. I will miss you.

  9. Not Surprised Says:

    Rebel unless someone who was there tells you, you cannot be more accurate.

  10. Rebel Says:

    Dear El Jefe,

    The press accounts may or may not be accurate.

    So far today I have been told by both people who like green and people who like red and white about what I fucked up job I have done with my coverage of this incident. As soon as I can get something nailed down I will write a follow and try to be a little more accurate.


  11. El Jefe Says:


    Nevada – Soon before a California Hells Angel motorcycle gang chapter president was fatally shot and stabbed in a crowded Sparks casino bar during Street Vibrations, video surveillance captured the man punching a rival gang member, and then pistol-whipping several people before gunshots were exchanged, according to court documents obtained by the Reno Gazette-Journal.
    Killed during Friday night’s rumble at Trader Dick’s at John Ascuaga’s Nugget was Jeffrey “Jethro” Pettigrew, 51, president of the Hells Angels chapter in San Jose.

    While the Hells Angels call themselves a motorcycle “club” they are considered a criminal street gang, or “outlaw motorcycle gang” by the Department of Justice.

    One of Pettigrew’s gang members, Cesar Villagrana, 36, of Gilroy, Calif., was the lone person arrested by Sparks Police, who are still reviewing surveillance footage to identify those involved and possibly injured in the 11:30 p.m. incident Friday that caused the City of Sparks to cancel the remainder of Street Vibrations, and declare a 24-hour state of emergency to obtain additional resources to ensure community safety.

  12. Roach Says:

    Great article rebel. Keep up the good work.

  13. Rebel Says:

    Dear Anonymous,

    Thank you very much. I don’t doubt that your account is more accurate than mine. I will try to do better the next time.

    Again, thanks. Very much.


  14. Anonymous Says:

    Smith was not walking when shot, he was on his bike. Smith and his ol lady where on one bike and another Vago on a bike behind them. After Smith was shot, he maintained control of his motorcycle and pulled over to the side of the road before putting down his kickstand.

    According to news reports, following the gunfight at the Nugget, there was also a fight between the two clubs in Downtown Reno.

Leave a Reply