There’s always a snitch. The top secret search warrants were unsealed Wednesday and it is now obvious that there were at least two snitches in the great, Myrtle Beach, Hells Angels, marijuana manufacturing law enforcement triumph code named “Operation Red Harvest.“
The case is clouded in official secrecy. So far at least 34 people have been arrested after being accused in a 226 count state indictment voted out of a grand jury last month. The jury ran wild the charges which include possession of a weapon during a violent crime, third-degree assault, battery by a mob, kidnapping and unlawful use of a telephone. At least five indicted men are still unnamed. They are at least potentially unaware of the secret charges against them and so are described by the police as being “at large.”
Operation Red Harvest began late in 2010 after an unnamed member of the motorcycle club was voted out and ordered to remove or black out a single club tattoo. When he refused, as is sometimes the custom, his former club brothers removed or blacked out his tattoo for him. The second anonymous informant is a former club associate or prospect who was also reluctant to remove a patch holders only tattoo. Nationally, state and federal prosecutors have increasingly labeled such incidents, including patch repossessions, as “kidnappings.”
The original informant told authorities that a man named Thomas Doucette was growing marijuana in a storage shed on his one-acre property. The acre held a double-wide trailer, a single-wide trailer and two small buildings including the shed or “grow house.” Police refer to this wooded homestead as “the Doucette compound.” The out-bad former member also told police that the homegrown weed was being sold in a bike shop called Wild Child Custom. The shop is now called Dunes Cycle. A corporation named Hells Angels Red and White owned the building but not the business. Prosecutors theorized that the club was profiting from those marijuana sales and that the records of those sales were being stored in the Myrtle Beach Hells Angels clubhouse. Those three locations were among the 11 raided by a small army of police April 30.
During the paramilitary raids police recovered three “bales” of marijuana and three dead marijuana plants from “the Doucette compound.” The weight of the confiscated marijuana has not yet been described. The police also took all the personal computers, cell phones and cash they could find from all the searched locations. Police also “seized” a scale, surveillance cameras, legal firearms, a bullet proof vest, filing cabinets, club meeting minutes, other club records, thumb drives, a satellite dish, two sets of brass knuckles, Hells Angels cuts, two printers, a glass pipe, more than 200 tee shirts, earrings, framed photos, old Christmas cards and burned trash. Police took $2,000 in cash, two cell phones and a “a plastic baggie” containing “a white rock-like substance” from a 26-year-old woman named Christina Baker. No marijuana was seized from any location except “the Doucette compound.”
As is common, the marijuana conspiracy charges allowed police to realize two goals. The first was to extra-judicially punish members of the Myrtle Beach Hells Angels for being Hells Angels by confiscating their money and their property. The second goal was to gather intelligence on the club.
South Carolina police are vigorously banging their drums over this two week old case. And, the local press continues to enthusiastically and uncritically amplify every allegation the police make. So all the accused are also being punished with public shaming. There is a slim possibility that this soap opera may eventually even feature a trial.