|By Marjorie Cortez; Marjorie Cortez Deseret News|
"There's been a 300 percent increase in the members of outlaw motorcycle gangs in
Critser, who has worked in gang enforcement since 2008, said the proliferation of gangs and gang members could be attributed to multiple factors.
"It's like a gold rush. Everybody is trying to get here and establish dominance in the state so they can run a variety of their criminal activities and make their money in the state," Critser said.
The trend is disturbing, he said, because many long-established outlaw motorcycle gangs have ties to Mexican drug cartels, according to
The state also is becoming increasingly attractive to members of outlaw motorcycle clubs because
"A lot of our counties don't have the manpower or the money to fight them or handle them when they come into town on a run," Ray said.
A number of gangs have conducted national runs in rural
Two summers ago, the Vagos made a run into
"By the time they got there, they just turned around and went home. They didn't want to deal with it any more," Ray said. "Really, you've got to make it expensive and uncomfortable for these guys and they won't want to stick around."
Recently, the Barons, a motorcycle gang with a longtime presence in
A small group of Gypsy Jokers gang members entered the Rainbow Family gathering outside of
Weaponry seized during arrests of outlaw gang members across the country suggest that some have law-enforcement or military-grade firearms and body armor, Critser said.
A zero tolerance policy in
"Basically it got to the point that members of Hells Angels said we don't want to be gang members in
While he offered no details, Ray said he intends to introduce a gang initiative during the 2015 legislative session.