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Author Topic: Federal agents had to pass polygraph tests to infiltrate Mongols gang  (Read 2478 times)


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Federal agents had to pass polygraph tests to infiltrate Mongols gang   

By Thomas Watkins
Associated Press

WEST COVINA, Calif. -- Weeks of drinking and carousing to win acceptance in a notorious motorcycle gang came down to a nerve-racking moment for three undercover federal agents: taking a polygraph examination in a room full of armed men.

Flunking could threaten what would become a three-year probe into the Mongols Motorcycle Club - not to mention the agents' own safety.

Federal prosecutors say all three Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents were prepared for the challenge and passed the tests, critical moments in the investigation that culminated last week in multistate raids and at least 64 arrests on charges including murder, drug trafficking and torture.

"This is not the message that should be portrayed to the public and slew of attorneys that work to circumvent the system.  There is a serious likelihood of backlash for the community's trained examiners who work diligently to build cases utilizing the polygraph as a vital tool for further questioning."

The Mongols had been infiltrated before, so gang leaders went to extraordinary lengths to test their "prospects," including running background checks and having a private investigator administer the polygraph tests.

The Mongols ratcheted up pressure by standing directly behind the agents while they were hooked up to the polygraph, Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Brunwin said.

"Is it scarier to see the threat that is facing you, or ... taking a lie detector test while someone is standing behind you with a weapon?" the prosecutor said. "They could be getting ready to shoot."

Each agent had been given all they needed to assume a new life - an apartment away from their family, a new Social Security number and a cover story. They had also been trained to pass the lie detector.

"Why would any administrator want to disclose any method currently employed by the UC world? Especially when it is vital to the officer's safety?  This will only create an increase in skepticism for our agents that risk their lives on these highly dangerous assignments."

"It's a remarkable undertaking that the agents whose lives were at risk displayed this level of courage," Brunwin said.

In all, four ATF agents were accepted into the Mongols "brotherhood," though one agent was not required to take a polygraph test. Officials did not say why.

John Torres, the ATF agent in charge in Los Angeles, declined to discuss how the three beat the polygraph, but said undercover agents generally compile cover stories that echo their own lives so they can tell them more believably.

"Sometimes you say an awful lot without saying much."

"Our guys are highly trained and they were pretty much hand selected to do this mission and for their ability to think fast under pressure and beat the box," Torres said, referring to the polygraph machine.

"Beat the box" Once again not a good message to send to the lawyers. 

Though the ATF is able to train its agents to pass a polygraph test, the agency still uses lie detectors as part of its screening of potential new hires. ATF spokesman Mike Hoffman said the polygraph is just one of a slew of tests of a candidate's background.

"So the ATF trains its agents to beat the box, who else can beat the box?  Many contractors who worked for agencies/DoD in the past are now teaching and training all over the world." 

The Mongols' background checks and lie-detector tests were not only to prevent a repeat of the 1998 infiltration that led to arrests but to assess aspiring members' willingness to commit crimes for the gang, prosecutors said.

Mongols circulated photographs of the undercover agents among the criminal underworld to see if anyone recognized them, Brunwin said.

On one occasion, a Mongol grew suspicious after coming across an old photograph of one agent posing with ATF colleagues.

"They were telling him, this sure looks like you," Brunwin said. "It seemed like he'd been caught."

The agent convinced them it wasn't him.

Torres said not all agents can handle undercover work. Those that do it feed off the thrill of maintaining a facade.

"It is the adrenaline, it's being able to get one over on the bad guy," Torres said.

Torres said the agents in the Mongols investigation never committed a crime during the investigation, he said, and were still subject to random drug tests.

I guess next time they will have to make sure they witness the UC asset commit a crime.  "The hell with the lie detector test, I want to witness you kill someone or commit a serious crime."  What do you mean you are not willing to commit a serious crime, are you an Undercover Agent? 

Four women colleagues posed as girlfriends to help in the ruse, providing backup and an excuse that allowed the male agents to avoid having sex with women who hung out with Mongols, Brunwin said.

According to the indictment, the Mongols awarded each other special clothing patches, or "wings," after they engaged in extreme sex acts, like having sex with a woman with a venereal disease.

The 84-count racketeering indictment against the primarily Latino gang lists allegations including murder, attempted murder, racially motivated attacks on black people, torture, and gun and drug offenses. At least 44 defendants have appeared in court, all of them pleading not guilty. It wasn't immediately known if they had been assigned defense attorneys.

Last week, the government barred Mongols members from wearing clothing displaying the group's trademarked name or logo in what was called a first-of-its-kind seizure of a gang's intellectual property.

Among those arrested were the gang's former national president Ruben "Doc" Cavazos and current president Hector "Largo" Gonzalez. The gang is based in Southern California, but federal and local agents arrested members is six states from the West Coast to the Midwest.

Until his arrest, Cavazos lived with his son and other family members at a home on a quiet and well-to-do street with sweeping mountain views in West Covina, about 20 miles east of Los Angeles. Neighbors said he moved in a couple years ago and had landscaped the front of his property with a new retaining wall and several palm trees.

A woman at the house who declined to identify herself said Cavazos worked as a hospital CAT scan technician.

A neighbor who asked not to be named for fear of retaliation said he often would often be woken at 3 or 4 a.m. by the sound of several motorbikes.

"Optimism doesn't alter the laws of physics" T'Pol

For 10,000 years, the sharp stick was the most deadly weapon on the battlefield.  It's design was refined and continues in use today in Iraq and Afghanistan as the bayonet.

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    Re: Federal agents had to pass polygraph tests to infiltrate Mongols gang
    « Reply #1 on: November 06, 2008, 08:44:24 pm »
    Now that's some good stuff.   Wonder if they are international
    like HA and Outlaws?   Started out as a rinky dink club in Mexico.
    Moved to east LA and set up shop.   Believe a club called Vagos
    did about the same on a smaller scale.   Both have traveled north
    into Oregon to set up Chapters along with the Jokers who were
    run out of Calif. years ago.   The Oregon LEOs pretty much put
    the Vagos out of business.   However, the Mongols moved in over
    night and put on Oregon rockers.   Jury is still out, but can't see
    any good coming out of it.
       They already had a incident where they had federal agents
    spotted, and chased them and through calling other Mongols to
    pin in the agents on a dead end road.   When hidden lights and
    siren were employed it gave enough time for a rescue of the agents.
    President arrested with a couple of different charges ended up with a
    fine :banghead :cuss :cuss and no contact with any patch wearer :banghead :banghead.   Turns out his twin brother is runn-
    ing the chapter, and the President left Oregon breaking parole, and
    went to Calif.   Hopefully one of the ones caught up in the sting.
    Ariz., Nev. and Calif. are three states they did the round up.   Did
    not hear of Oregon, but it seems Wash. was another state.
       I know the Hells Angels have been infiltrated a couple of times.
    Once big time by a member of their choosing from Alaska.   Not an
    agent, but a snitch that worked his way up the ladder and rolled
    over. ;D


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    Re: Federal agents had to pass polygraph tests to infiltrate Mongols gang
    « Reply #2 on: December 03, 2008, 06:48:56 pm »
    All I have to say is Kudo's to those guys  :bowdown.  If I were single I might think about rying to get in somehwere I could do some UC like that.  But having a family makes a huge difference as far as what I am willing to do.  I am thankful for those that are able and willing to keep the this country safe. 
    "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

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