Saturday, July 16, 2011

mongols mc, outlaw motorcycle clubs - book - 2008 - Honor Few, Fear None: The Life & Times of a Mongol

Honor Few, Fear None: The Life and Times of a Mongol
Ruben “Doc” Cavazos
HarperCollins
2008
214 pages

Honor Few, Fear None is the memoir of “Doc” Cavazos (born in 1957), the former international president of the Mongols Motorcycle Club.  The Mongols MC is one of the best known outlaw motorcycle gangs outside of the subculture’s “big four” (a law enforcement designation referring to the four largest outlaw groups: the Hells Angels, the Bandidos, Pagans, and Outlaws).  Much of the notoriety of the Mongols MC comes from a rivalry with the Hells Angels that peaked (in terms of press coverage) after a violent melee at a casino in Laughlin Nevada during the 2002 Laughlin River Run, a major annual biker gathering.  Two Hells Angels and one Mongol were killed in the course of an all-out brawl.  Doc was a high ranking Mongol that the time, although not yet president of the organization.  

Cavazos’ memoir focuses primarily on his life as a gang member.  He and his brother, Al (AKA Al “the Suit”, another former high-ranking Mongol) were raised by their father in the tough Highland Park neighborhood in the Northeast of Los Angeles.  Cavazos describes the violent climate of his neighborhood, and the necessity of joining a gang for protection from his social environment.  In his adolescence Cavazos joined The Avenues, a notorious gang affiliated with the Mexican Mafia and an eventual rival of the Mongols.  Doc described himself in typical gangster terms as someone who was always ready to act violently, and without fear, if a situation called for it, but not as someone who would instigate conflict. 

Doc also describes his personal life as an adult, presenting himself as a responsible worker and parent.  He has balanced his outlaw biker lifestyle with a career, having worked full-time as a professional radiologic technician at a Los Angeles medical institution.  Furthermore he raised his son, Ruben Jr., as a single father.  Ruben Jr. eventually became “Little Rubes”, a security professional, and a full patch member of the Mongols MC.  Doc entered the world of 1% bikers because of a desire to leave the gang life behind in lieu of adult responsibilities, but also to maintain an element of danger in his life - something he felt membership in the Mongols offered.

In 2005 an ATF agent named William Queen authored a book titled Under and Alone in which Queen describes his infiltration of the Mongols MC San Fernando Valley Chapter under the alias of Billy St. John.  Queen represented the Mongols as murders and rapists, which is exactly the image of outlaw bikers (and Mongols in particular) Cavazos attempts to contradict with his text.  I believe that Queen and other undercover infiltrators of the 1% gangs exaggerate the criminality of bikers for the purpose of entrenching the value of their own positions and the expense of their operations.  Cavazos, however, pulls too hard in the opposite direction, often making the claim in his text that the Mongols are not criminal at all and any crime that has occurred at the hands of a club member was either before his regime, due to the incompetence of other leaders, or due to a lack of discipline among individual members.  The club chapter that William Queen became a full patch member of while working undercover, for example, was infiltrated due to leader incompetence and lack of adherence to club rules.  Cavazos argued that chapter president Red Dog was simply building a membership for the dues each Mongol pays, and that so he could fuel a drug habit and let recruitment measures go slack.  Incidentally, that’s what other Mongols accuse Cavazos of.




Also the Laughlin River riot occurred, according to Doc, because of the incompetence of his presidential predecessor, Roger Pinney.  Meanwhile Doc discusses his management of the club in terms of building armies, and furthermore he speaks of incidents where he directly challenges Hells Angels to enter confrontation.  He considers it a show of disrespect for the Mexican Mafia to have had a security detail in place during a meeting with their representatives, even though the Mongols had a similar unit operating at the same meeting.  Finally, he suggests that much of the brutality attributed to the Mongols (and described in Under and Alone) occurred before he achieved command over the club.  He considers a Mongol to be an individual who is ready for violence and willing to return fire but at the same time he resents the violent stereotype of the biker that is conveyed in media.

Its difficult to know what to make of Cavazos’ memoir considering the events that occured shortly after its publication.  Honor Few, Fear None was published in June 2008, shortly thereafter in August ‘08 Cavazos was voted out of the club under at a meeting in Vernon California under accusation that he was stealing from his own organization.  In October ‘08 Doc, Lil’ Rubes, Al the Suit, and a number of other Mongols members were arrested in the climax of another ATF undercover operation called Operation Black Rain.  Cavazos pleaded guilty to charges of racketeering and is now accused of having turned government informant by his former 1% brothers.  As of this writing, the Mongols MC website lists the three ex-Mongols/Cavazos family members as ‘out-bad’ which I assume means they are out of the club in bad standing.  According to a number of news items about the fallout of Operation Black Rain, government prosecution demanded the trademark rights to the Mongols patches from Doc for the purpose of preventing their public representation.  My edition of Honor Few, Fear None has all Mongols patches blacked out in the photographs section.  Earlier this summer a judge returned the trademarks, legally, to the club, and I would be interested to see if any new editions have the patches featured again.

Ruben “Doc” Cavazos memoir is inconsistent with regards to how he represents himself and his former club.  In the undertaking of such a memoir however, what else could he do but attempt to strike a balance between presenting his men as resolute fighters in the face of violent ongoing rivalries, and presenting them as motorcycle enthusiasts who get a little rough when they party in the face of a public view of 1%ers as bloodthirsty maniacs?  Cavazos’ text is interesting simply because it shows how a recently active high-ranking biker talks about the subculture.

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