FBI Memo Leaked

April 18, 2012

All Posts, News

A whistle-blower blog you should know, Public Intelligence, released a confidential FBI memo yesterday about the Vagos copyrighting their Loki patch. You can access that report here.

David Kravets, a senior staff writer for the much better known publication Wired picked up the story this morning and limped with it.  You can read his take on this issue here. Depending on what and who Kim Kardashian and Mitt Romney do today, you may hear more about this story. And, if you do it is likely that much of what you hear will be a cloud of bull feathers. This account may be marginally more informative.

The FBI Report

About a year ago the wacky crime fighters at the FBI Office in Phoenix released a report that announced:

“As of 2 May 2011, the International Chapter of the Vagos Outlaw Motorcycle Gang (Vagos) trademarked their ‘cuts’ – the patches which identify their OMG affiliation – in an effort to prevent law enforcement agencies from inserting undercover officers into their organization.

“The Vagos added the ® symbol to the bottom center of the large back patch as shown in photo 1. There are only about 20 of these new patches which are currently being worn by members. It is believed that the new patches will be given out to new members as they are vetted by the Vagos leadership. By doing this, the Vagos believe they will have exclusive rights to the Vagos patch and no one, including undercover officers, would be able to wear the patch without the consent of the International Vagos OMG leadership.

“Research within the United States Patent and Trademark Office was conducted which indicated the Vagos International Motorcycle Club Corporation California, 780 N. Diamond Bar Blvd., #B12, Diamond Bar California, 91765, filed to make the Vagos name and symbol a registered trademark on July 2, 2010, Serial Number 85076951. Changes and requests by the Vagos Corporation were submitted as recently as May 2, 2011 to the Patent and Trademark Office.”

Loving Big Brother

The report goes on to claim the report is: “Law Enforcement Sensitive: This information is the property of the FBI and may be distributed to state, tribal, or local government law enforcement officials with a need-to-know. Further distribution without FBI authorization is prohibited. Precautions should be taken to ensure this information is stored and/or destroyed in a manner that precludes unauthorized access.”

And, concludes, “In the future, any undercover law enforcement officer who is wearing Vagos cuts without the ® may be placing themselves in danger.”

The most interesting passage in the document is titled “distribution.” It may help to illustrate to journalists, civil liberties lawyers and other naives the extent to which Thomas Jefferson’s “last, best hope for mankind” has become an Orwellian police state. Although the general public has no need to know about this document the following intelligence gathering agencies do: “Deputy Assistant Director, Directorate of Intelligence Analysis Branch; Production Services Unit, Directorate of Intelligence Criminal Investigative Division; FBI Intranet; FBI Albuquerque; FBI Las Vegas; FBI Los Angeles; FBI San Diego; FBI Sacramento; FBI Salt Lake City; FBI Portland; Law Enforcement Online; New Mexico Fusion Center; Arizona Fusion Center; Nevada Fusion Center; Oregon Fusion Center; Colorado Fusion Center; Utah Fusion Center; San Diego Fusion Center; Los Angeles Fusion Center.”

Notes On David Kravets

The Vagos haven’t released their own memo to explain why they added the trademark “R” to their patch. When they want everyone to know they probably will. However there are a couple of obvious errors in Kravets exegesis of the memo that should be corrected.

The Vagos have always owned, now own and will forever own their logo and their name. Both are marks that are classified as “collective membership marks.” The Christian cross, the Masonic compass and the “marks” of every other motorcycle club in the United States belong exclusively to those groups as long as those groups exist and their members display those symbols.

A “trademark” does not establish ownership of a particular symbol or name. A trademark is a “legal notice” in which a Company or enterprise claims the exclusive right to a particular set of symbols – as the Boy Scouts of America have trademarked all their merit badges and the Hells Angels Motorcycle Corporation has claimed and defended its exclusive rights to use numerous marks associated with the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club in commerce.

Kravets concludes his essay with the statement: “Unfortunately for the Vagos, the FBI isn’t going to blink at a little trademark infringement – just like an undercover cop isn’t going to say he’s a narc if you asked him – as a generation of stoners seemed to think.”

The obvious point Kravets misses is that by copyrighting their patch the Vagos can sue any company or organization, including the FBI, that decides to manufacture its own Vagos patches. The FBI memo from last year implies that federal and local police departments have already begun to do that.


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34 Responses to “FBI Memo Leaked”

  1. rollinnorth Says:

    I liked the FBI Customer Satisfaction Survey at the end. If it wasn’t so crazy / dangerous, it would be funny. Your last sentence says it all, though.

  2. RVN69 Says:

    “Directorate of Intelligence Analysis Branch; Production Services Unit, Directorate of Intelligence Criminal Investigative Division;”

    I’m sure that others besides me will find it disturbing that we have any branch or division in the alleged democratic republic called the United States of America called a “Directorate”

    “I am not an angel, nor am I the devil, I am the bastard stepchild of both.”

  3. observer Says:

    Rebel: I’d thought undercover cops in MCs came by their patches through deception in their patching in. The patches were real, but the members were not. I didn’t realize a cop could just suit up in a cut and start mingling, as if nobody would sniff him out. How would that work exactly, would the cop have to say he’s from a chap(r)ter somewhere yonder and just wanted to join up with some new guys? I can’t see that working out so well. Please advise, or ignore, whichever is better here. I may be too under informed in general to comment on this thread. Thanks.

  4. Paul Citizen Says:

    Glenn Reynolds, a professor of constitutional law at the Univ. of Tennessee, just posted a link to the Wired story along with the comment: “How naive of these people to think that the FBI would let the law stand in the way of doing its job.”


  5. BigV Says:

    Observer: Nope. They have made copies of the following cuts: Devil’s Diciples, Hells Angels, Outlaws, Iron Cross(GA), Sons of Silence, Vagos, Galloping Gooses, El Forastero, and I assume the Mongols. They allowed seized and “replica” patches to be used on Gangland- despite being either evidence or counterfeit.

  6. Bookworm Says:

    In a Gangland episode titled “The Filthy Few”, there is a bunch of people with what looks like replicated club vests. Since the show is controlled by the atf, I assumed the vests were fakes.

  7. observer Says:

    BigV: Thanks. Still wondering how a counterfeit (or even real/seized) cut alone would allow someone to “go undercover” in a club. Seems they’d be asked lots of unanswerable questions if they were just posing as a member from “some other” chap(r)ter somewhere else. I mean they couldn’t just show up at a clubhouse like they belonged there only on the strength of their patch, could they? Maybe there are large runs where not many know too many others, and someone could play that game for a while. But seems like in order to be effective as an undecover a guy would actually have to be either patched in somewhere, or pretend that he was, which to me seems nearly impossible to pull off. Guessing I must be wrong here somehow, but I’m just surprised the Feds can get any traction at all by simply putting on a patch. Maybe they can’t, but they try anyway, and the Vagos here are simply smart enough to see something they can sue over, an offensive annoyance more than a threat, and maybe make a few bucks at the embarrassed Feds’ expense.

  8. Diesel Black Says:

    observer: LE will probably try to use counterfeits/seized cuts from Club A to try to get close to another club that is either friendly, neutral, or has no knowledge of Club A. It works well when you have LE that sport pseudo prison ink (gray/black) or “biker” themed tat2s (v-twin blocks, flames, etc…).

  9. Banjo man Says:

    The imposter pig would last about 60 seconds before his covers were pulled.

  10. BigV Says:

    It’s not to necessarily go under cover in the club- that would be futile. If someone out of town is around and doesn’t make themselves known ahead of time, most likely it’s somebody with a fake cut or a Fed.

    The purpose to go undercover among bikers or among idiot criminals. You can provoke incidents among clubs and citizens and do it anonymously. Not all clubs have good relations or any relations, so it may be difficult for a club to immediately know if someone who shows up wearing a cut is really patched. The other thing is if someone takes a pot shot at you or rips off a brother and all you see is that cut, it may touch something off.

    Feds likely did this all through the 80’s and even now depending on who you ask. Shit that happened between the Banshees, 81, Vagos, Dirty Dozen, Ghostriders, and a number of others may have been set off by the Feds or at least feds in colors.

  11. Glenn S. Says:

    The fake cut might get some millage somewhere where there is no active dominant 1%er club within a hundred miles, but there is an active, semi-organized criminal element. Ethnic “street gangs”, bunch of good ol’ boys moving product, gun runners, etc. might jump at the chance to hook up with what they believe is a real live MC patchholder. When the guy turns out to be a pig, or even if a hard to put together deal goes south, unnecessary hard feelings towards a club (or whoever the undercover claims to represent) can result.

  12. RK Says:

    What I find laughable is the fact that FBI memo is a “POTENTIAL CRIMINAL ACTIVITY ALERT.”
    Since when did it become a potential criminal act to file copyright or trademark paperwork? The Vagos are simply doing something that many clubs and organizations have been doing for years to legally protect their image and properties. This shouldn’t have even been a blip on the federal radar.

  13. Grumbler Says:

    Undercover LEOs might want to acquire these kewl, retro cuts:

  14. RVN69 Says:

    Fake/counterfeit colors probably wouldn’t get far around here. If it were our colors and I didn’t know him I would ask to see his club ID, if he wore the patch of another club I would get his roadname and make polite inquiries to that club to see if he was legit.

    I have no idea what the Feds plans are for counterfeit colors, but it sure isn’t good and probably not legal.

    RK, the feds know what the Vago’s did was legal, the fact that they presented it as potential criminal activity shows how devious they are.

    “I am not an angel, nor am I the devil, I am the bastard stepchild of both.”

  15. Rebel Says:

    Dear observer,

    I don’t think any ATF troll will attempt to infiltrate the Vagos with a counterfeit Vagos patch. But you know, all American hero Jay Dobyns did pretend to be patched with Solo Angeles, not the Angels, when he rode his motorcycle up to Bullhead City. Whenever that was. I have heard it might have been as early as 2000. So, I don’t know what happens when a guy claiming to be a Vago shows up in Kansas.

    I am sure the Vagos are trying to protect their patch in any way they find appropriate. How and why is their club business. But it is also a fact that counterfeiting a Vagos patch that has the little “R” on it is the crime of counterfeiting — which has been an area of federal law enforcement for the last year or so. The Vagos have good legal counsel. I don’t doubt that they are way ahead of me.

    I thought the tenor of the memo was more interesting than the content. And all those fusion centers with a need to know about the Vagos!


  16. observer Says:

    BigV,Diesel Black, Banjo Man,Glenn S, RVN69: Thanks for all your insight on this. Also, BigV, the “false flag” potential was something I hadn’t considered. BigV says: “The other thing is if someone takes a pot shot at you or rips off a brother and all you see is that cut, it may touch something off.

    Feds likely did this all through the 80′s and even now depending on who you ask. Shit that happened between the Banshees, 81, Vagos, Dirty Dozen, Ghostriders, and a number of others may have been set off by the Feds or at least feds in colors.”

  17. observer Says:

    Rebel: Thanks. It’s an interesting topic from a number of angles. The Vagos’ legal action, and the Feds’ tripping on it both seem to point to bigger stories somewhere in the background.

  18. AVAGOVFFV Says:

    “So, I don’t know what happens when a guy claiming to be a Vago shows up in Kansas.” If he’s not known (which is highly unlikely) bet your ass phones will be rung.


    Viva Los Vagos

  19. Hose-a 1% Says:

    Unfortunatly the feds have colors they have confiscated over the years and they like to play dress up.So how ever real they might look you can’t judge a book by its cover.I venture to say they play dress up and stir shit for alot of clubs.Any thing from starting wars to dragging you’re clubs name into alot of bogus bullshit.Just my opinion but you can’t always assume if it walks like duck well you know the rest.
    If I sound like a synic its because I don’t put any thing past the fucking pigs.
    Hose-a 1%er Pagan’s M.C.retired…………F.T.F.

  20. AVAGOVFFV Says:

    Some reading material for the shitter.


    I’m not a fan of the ACLU simply because they won’t defend everyone’s rights and liberties specifically bikers or Club members but it’s still good information to bounce around in the mind.

    Viva Los Vagos

  21. rollinnorth Says:

    Remember the stunt Rudy Guliani pulled when he was US Attorney?

  22. observer Says:

    Rollinnorth: I guess Guliani wanted to kill two birds with one stone, make a bust and denigrate the patch a bit more. Thing is he only ends up looking like a nerd acting out his fantasies. He didn’t have to dress like anything but a politician if he just wanted to look like a junkie.

  23. DirtyBruin Says:

    Obviously it’s club business how they validate people claiming to be from a distant cha[r|p]ter – but it seems like there’s few good options. RVN69 mentions “club ID” – if the feds can counterfeit the patch, they can likely counterfeit an ID card. And if the club got more high-tech — anything that builds a database of club members’ names and such would become a HUGE acquisition target for the Alphabet Soup crowd.

    The only thing I can think of that might work is if the card had a magstripe or a chip with info encoded using Public Key crypto – and with the Private key kept very VERY safe… but that means only one place that makes club IDs which could be logistically difficult.

    (For those of you not into cryptography – the public key concept means that there are two related code keys; one key cannot be used to derive the other, so it’s perfectly safe to make one completely public. What one key encodes can only be decoded by the other key – so the card’s info (encoded with the private key) is proof that the card is genuine, and anyone with the public key can prove it. It’s also true that anything encrypted with the public key can only be decrypted by whoever has the private key, so it’s a safe way to get a message back to whoever that is, since only they can read it.)

    I don’t know how many of the clubs have IT/crypto geeks working on this sort of thing (it is rather outside the stereotype) but I wouldn’t be surprised if some did. Not that it would ever be any of my business, other than I enjoy watching the ATF et. al. faceplant when they take on a motorcycle club.

  24. BadMagic Says:


    The biggest downside to any cryptography is a false sense of security. Once you think it is secure, you’ll be more likely to use it. When your more likely to use it, more data gets recorded. When more data gets recorded, the alphabet gang has more play-dough to sculpt into whatever crime they want to fabricate at the time.

    joke –> (Don’t wake up in a ditch, cancel cable TV…) <— joke

    Pride goeth before the fall.

    Best thing you can do is get to know your brothers so a minimal communication is needed. Critical thinking and a healthy dose of STFU are most important in my opinion.


  25. DirtyBruin Says:

    BadMagic: You’re quite correct – I was thinking in terms of the larger clubs where they have grown beyond the point where it’s practical (or even possible) for every member to know – or at least recognize – all the others.

    Even something as relatively simple as a collection of photos (even without any other identifying info) of all members and prospects would be something Alphabet City would be after a copy of. It’s a knotty problem – how to keep out infiltrators and rats.

  26. JIM666 Says:

    Well guess i,ll throw in my .02 here, being in a rather small club we really havnt had any problems to this effect, although as Hose-a 1% pointed out here
    Hose-a 1% Says:
    April 19th, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    “Unfortunatly the feds have colors they have confiscated over the years”

    this is very true.but as stated prior we are a small club w/ only a hand full of charters and so far all members know each other,now if the situation ever arises that we get bigger like some of the big four. Our patch and name is under copyrite law also, and only one place makes our patch every patch we have that is now being flown other than a few of our 1st design,s which are now in frames hanging on walls are made by one of the big four and handed to us, so just the way the stitching is in the patch would be very hard to duplicate w/out 1st having one of our patches to set the digitizing we have also started marking the back of each patch, w/an undisclosed mark, and anytime a member from out of town comes thru there are phone calls made 1st,and vise verse I can see the Fed,s or cops putting on a very simular patch and trying to start some shit w/ another club or even “street gang” and even going as low to try and put a dent in a clubs rep,w/the citizens but as far as posing as a member w/ a phony patch or even confiscated one I really cant see that happening as im sure the bigger clubs share info on members w/ each other just as us smaller clubs do
    disclamer what I said here is not what would be determined as club buisness as it,s is almost public knowlege as we do not hide the fact that only our members are privy to wearing our patch and we have gone to linths to protect it

  27. Shyster Says:

    Well speaking of human, civil and Constitutional Rights violators … The pigs extorted the management of a local restaurant/bar today by forcing them to not allow the Vagos MC to go forward with a pre planned Club Wide Run tomorrow. Two plain clothes pigs walked into the restaurant just after lunch today and told the on duty manager that if the bar hosted the Club then their alcohol license/permit would get pulled.

    The show will go on elsewhere!


  28. Hose-a 1% Says:

    That shit happens here in Virginia all of the time.
    Hose-a 1%er Pagan’s M.C. reired F.T.F.

  29. credible Says:

    not sure what the fuss is about? the Oregon vagos has a former uniformed police officer who is married to a former CPS, baby stealer. Hardwire, Grants Pass Chapter…….is he still in the club?
    ive been trying to warn you guys……..once a cop always a cop, can a homo change his desire for dicks?

  30. punta cana resa Says:

    good post regarding, but! i don’t strive to be so negative but i believe your site would look a little better if you had a little red in it :) No…, you don’t have to agree… this is only my humble opinion. Thank you for a excellent post anyway! :) Best regards!

  31. Sieg Says:

    Not quite sure what type of file punta is trying to lay on people with that link, but I wouldn’t open it.

    As far as “club I.D.”, once upon a time, that’s what tattoo’s were for.

    5 to 1

  32. Panhead Says:

    Yeah, I’m with Sieg. Glad I’m not the only one who “wouldn’t go there.” We also Tat when we patch. It’s effective to a degree. There are other security measures. (“i believe your site would look a little better if you had a little red in it :) No…, you don’t have to agree…”) Ok. Is that Passive Aggressive?


    93 FTW STP

  33. rollinnorth Says:

    Thanks, Sieg. Based on the way that post is written and the fact that a search turned up Punta Cana airport in the Dominican Republic, I’m guessing it is spam that got by the filters. I’ll just click ads on Rebel’s page.


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