“Who cares what they are charged with – just get them to court!”

NPR, Newsweek, and WaPo, among others, have focused lately on why or whether recent domestic terrorist-like activity can be charged as such. Here’s my question: Who cares? If the perpetrators committed a crime (or a tort), then the courts can sufficiently deal with that, but the question needs to be “when and where are they going to be tried?”

The justice system does not include the media, nor does it include the masses of readers, viewers, and retweeters, and it surely doesn’t operate as fast as the court of public opinion. It does, however, serve as a solution to problems, if we can just get there. The biggest problem with the court of public option is that no one has a law degree, and their only exposure to the law appears to be with TV judges and shows depicting court scenes that are over in minutes and not hours. The reality of the justice system is it is quite difficult to try someone for thoughts and feelings, which are protected by the U.S. Constitution. Folks can only be tried for actions and behaviors.

If you have seen photos of the perpetrators, you’ll likely agree that none of them would, as my drill sergeant used to say, make a good pimple on a real soldier’s behind (paraphrased). They aren’t in the best shape, usually don’t have matching uniforms, and don’t seem to have very good leadership. As we saw with James Fields, the murderous driver in Charlottesville, these guys may have a military-like structure, but they may not be able to cut it in today’s military.

When they do, they are quite dangerous, but even when they don’t (like Fields, who lasted a mere 4 months, it appears) they are able to absorb some amount of training, discipline, and knowledge. I suspect many both in and outside the media will show some contrasts with veterans Timothy McVeigh, who had Militia ties when he blew up the Murrah Federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, or Micah Johnson, who had been a member of a Black Supremacy group when he shot fourteen police officers in Dallas, Texas, killing five, in 2016. Now, none of these examples demonstrated brilliant minds or anything resembling genius, but surely you agree that their crimes would have been a bit tougher to investigate . . .. But the analysis should really should be focused on folks who were in the military long before those guys.

The U.S. Military is often tasked wth maturing individuals, by providing an environment in which they learn to think things through, learn from their mistakes, and experience success. That environment doesn’t always produce shining examples of contributing members of society, unfortunately, and history is littered with rosters of criminals who had “done time” in the military.

Consider the Hounds, a group of soldiers, many of whom had been street gang members in New York, who formed a White Nationalist (by today’s standards) group in San Francisco, California. They had just finished battling Mexico (in the Mexican-American War) and were discharged shortly before the California Gold Rush gave folks a reason to move to the area formerly known as Mexico. The group known as the Hounds transformed into the San Francisco Society of Regulators, the closest thing to a police or security force that the ships captains had, and they needed someone to round up the hundreds of stray (non-military) sailors who had neglected their responsibility to offload the ships in the bay and dashed instead to the mines to find their riches.

Houndsmall

Once the Hounds/Regulators completed that mission, they “served” the shopkeepers and barkeeps by drinking in their establishments and leaving without rendering payment, claiming the city owed them. In their spare time they harassed, or worse, the foreigners (many of whom were from Mexico and countries in Central and South America), and generally created an unsafe city.

And they were never taken to court!

By todays standards, the Hounds/Regulators would be considered a Domestic Terrorist Extremist (DTE) group.

DTEDefinition

Just like many current DTE groups, the Hounds/Regulators were military-trained gang members. The FBI is especially concerned with the dangerousness of DTEs with members who have received military training.

Military-trained gang members pose a serious threat to law enforcement and to the public. They learn combat tactics in the military, then return home to utilize these new skills against rival gangs or law enforcement. Military training of individual gang members could ultimately result in more sophisticated and deadly gangs, as well as deadly assaults on law enforcement officers. 

That’s the standard finding for the biennial National Gang Intelligence Center report that summarizes the national threat of gangs and other crime groups. It applies to Domestic Terrorist Extremists (DTEs), as well as to street gangs and Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (OMGs).

MTGMDefined

Military-Trained Gang Members (MTGMs) display indicators that they received military training either directly or indirectly. Indicators of military training include the use of military tactics, weapons, explosives, or equipment to conduct gang activity, and the use of distinctive military skills, particularly if gang members are trained in weapons, tactics, and planning, and then pass the instruction on to other gang members. Military tactics include the techniques and strategies taught in a variety of military occupational specialties, ranging from tactical assault to organizational leadership strategies.

The FBI has reported military-trained gang members in all branches of the military since 2005. Of all the issues with gangs and the military, street gang, OMG, and DTE members who have transitioned from the military back to the civilian community are the biggest threat, and the only issue that can be addressed without assistance from the military. Estimates of the number of MTGMs run from between 20,000 and 200,000, or between one and ten percent of the gang members in the country, and that doesn’t include the members of gangs in the military. Even more recent research found about 20% of DTEs claimed to have been in the military.

The membership numbers aren’t well addressed by the agencies that track them, but they do show a problem. If they were in the military, they were released to the community. If they are in the community, then that’s who needs to address the problem. The criminal justice system needs a chance to work, from the police to the courts to corrections. These folks are first, criminals, so why are we worried about their DTE classification? The Hounds/Regulators weren’t tried due to an ineffective justice system. McVeigh was tried, convicted, and sentences to death, and was executed many years ago. Johnson pronounced the same penalty on himself, and it was delivered at the scene. These perpetrators should be given the same opportunities to experience the results of their actions. Their thoughts are protected by the U.S. Constitution, but there actions are not. Stop trying them in the court of public opinion (and stop “countering” their protests.

Get them to court!

Many are called — few are chosen – OMGs dealing drugs

In a recent article, the News-Star reported outlaw bikers were distributing a variety of drugs, including crack cocaine, pain pills, and high grade marijuana, in the area of the University of Louisiana Monroe. Those drugs were seized, along with seven firearms, including two that had been reported stolen. A total of nine motorcycles were seized for being used in a crime.

The drug dealers were members of the Chosen Few, known as an Outlaw Motorcycle Gang (OMG) by law enforcement. OMGs are ongoing organizations whose members use their motorcycle clubs as conduits for criminal enterprises. OMGs are highly structured criminal organizations whose members engage in criminal activities such as violent crime, weapons trafficking, and drug trafficking.

OMGDefined

OMGs differ from street gangs primarily in their demographics and typical mode of transportation, although for criminal prosecution and enhancements, they may be prosecuted under laws designed for street gangs and other organized crime groups.

Many OMGs , like street gangs and Domestic Terrorist Extremist (DTE) groups, are aligned along racial lines.  The Chosen Few MC were the first racially integrated OMG.  Along with other African American OMGs, the Chosen Few has a males-only membership policy. 

All of the members arrested by police had black leather vests with the gang’s patches. The FBI has consistently reported many current and former OMG members have military experience. and the ATF has reported utilizing active-duty military personnel and U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) contractors and employees to grow their organizations and areas of control.

Military-trained gang members pose a serious threat to law enforcement and to the public. They learn combat tactics in the military, then return home to utilize these new skills against rival gangs or law enforcement. Military training of individual gang members could ultimately result in more sophisticated and deadly gangs, as well as deadly assaults on law enforcement officers.

That’s the standard writeup for the biennial National Gang Intelligence Center report that summarizes the national threat of gangs and other crime groups. It applies to Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (OMGs), as well as street gangs and Domestic Terrorist Extremists(DTEs).

Military-trained gang members (MTGM) include street gang, prison gang, OMG, or DTE group member per the applicable jurisdiction’s definition, with military training or experience, as perceived by a reasonable, typical, police officer.

MTGMDefinedMTGMs display indicators that they received military training either directly or indirectly. Indicators of military training include the use of military tactics, weapons, explosives, or equipment to conduct gang activity, and the use of distinctive military skills, particularly if gang members are trained in weapons, tactics, and planning, and then pass the instruction on to other gang members. Military tactics include the techniques and strategies taught in a variety of military occupational specialties, ranging from tactical assault to organizational leadership strategies.

National Gang Intelligence Center

Screen Shot 2017-07-31 at 1.01.55 PM

The FBI has reported military-trained gang members in all branches of the military since 2005. Of all the issues with gangs and the military, street gang, OMG, and DTE members who have transitioned from the military back to the civilian community are the biggest threat, and the only issue that can be addressed without assistance from the military. Estimates of the number of MTGMs run from between 20,000 and 200,000, or between one and ten percent of the gang members in the country, and that doesn’t include the members of gangs in the military.

Hells Angels at the Lake – no reason for concern?

Local law enforcement at Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri is preparing for a large group of Hells Angels in the coming week, but say they don’t have special concerns about their time at the Lake. The group is holding a club meeting for their midwestern chapters, and is planning their own meals, entertainment, and security, reported ABC17and Lake News Online.

Authorities expect 500 to 600 members of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club (HAMC) for the rally, which is set for Monday through Friday, July 31 – Aug. 4. Little coverage of the event was found, but apparently it is a prelude to BikeFest 2017.

The HAMC  is considered by law enforcement to be an Outlaw Motorcycle Gang (OMG). The FBI says:

OMGs are organizations whose members use their motorcycle clubs as conduits for criminal enterprises. Although some law enforcement agencies regard only One Percenters as OMGs, the NGIC covers all OMG criminal organizations, including OMG support and puppet clubs.

Many of the stars of the TV series Sons of Anarchy were at one time HAMC members.

Fuel Truck with Hells Angels graffiti
‘Support your local Hells Angels’ graffiti on military vehicle in Iraq

The HAMC includes military-trained gang members. Along with the Outlaws and Black Pistons, the HAMC are most often identified as having members in the military. The FBI is especially concerned with the dangerousness of OMGs with members who have received military training.

Military-trained gang members pose a serious threat to law enforcement and to the public. They learn combat tactics in the military, then return home to utilize these new skills against rival gangs or law enforcement. Military training of individual gang members could ultimately result in more sophisticated and deadly gangs, as well as deadly assaults on law enforcement officers. 

That’s the standard finding for the biennial National Gang Intelligence Center report that summarizes the national threat of gangs and other crime groups. It applies to Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (OMGs), as well as to street gangs, and Domestic Terrorist Extremists (DTEs).

Military-trained gang members (MTGM) include street gang, prison gang, OMG, or DTE group member per the applicable jurisdiction’s definition, with military training or experience, as perceived by a reasonable, typical, police officer.

MTGMs display indicators that they received military training either directly or indirectly. Indicators of military training include the use of military tactics, weapons, explosives, or equipment to conduct gang activity, and the use of distinctive military skills, particularly if gang members are trained in weapons, tactics, and planning, and then pass the instruction on to other gang members. Military tactics include the techniques and strategies taught in a variety of military occupational specialties, ranging from tactical assault to organizational leadership strategies.

The FBI has reported military-trained gang members in all branches of the military since 2005. Of all the issues with gangs and the military, street gang, OMG, and DTE members who have transitioned from the military back to the civilian community are the biggest threat, and the only issue that can be addressed without assistance from the military. Estimates of the number of MTGMs run from between 20,000 and 200,000, or between one and ten percent of the gang members in the country, and that doesn’t include the members of gangs in the military.

The Devils Diciples went down to Idaho — OMGs shoot up cars and a building

In recent articles, both KTVB and KIVI reported a shooting in downtown Nampa, Idaho during which “multiple people fired multiple rounds”.  The shootout appeared to be between people in the Devils Diciples (sic) motorcycle gang and another group.

The Devils Diciples Motorcycle Club (DDMC) are allies of the Hells Angels MC, and both are known by law enforcement as Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (OMGs). The DDMC, with chapters in Alabama, Arizona, California, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi and Ohio, was founded in California in 1967. The word “disciples” in their name is intentionally mis-spelled so they aren’t confused with any religious organizations. Duane Chapman, best known as “Dog The Bounty Hunter” was a DDMC associate in the late 1960’s.

The DDMC includes military-trained gang members. The FBI is especially concerned with the dangerousness of gangs with members who have received military training.

Military-trained gang members pose a serious threat to law enforcement and to the public. They learn combat tactics in the military, then return home to utilize these new skills against rival gangs or law enforcement. Military training of individual gang members could ultimately result in more sophisticated and deadly gangs, as well as deadly assaults on law enforcement officers.

That’s the standard writeup for the biennial National Gang Intelligence Center report that summarizes the national threat of gangs and other crime groups. It applies to street gangs, as well as Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (OMGs) and Domestic Terrorist Extremists(DTEs).

Military-trained gang members (MTGM) include street gang, prison gang, OMG, or DTE group member per the applicable jurisdiction’s definition, with military training or experience, as perceived by a reasonable, typical, police officer.

MTGMs display indicators that they received military training either directly or indirectly. Indicators of military training include the use of military tactics, weapons, explosives, or equipment to conduct gang activity, and the use of distinctive military skills, particularly if gang members are trained in weapons, tactics, and planning, and then pass the instruction on to other gang members. Military tactics include the techniques and strategies taught in a variety of military occupational specialties, ranging from tactical assault to organizational leadership strategies.

The FBI has reported military-trained gang members in all branches of the military since 2005. Of all the issues with gangs and the military, street gang, OMG, and DTE members who have transitioned from the military back to the civilian community are the biggest threat, and the only issue that can be addressed without assistance from the military. Estimates of the number of MTGMs run from between 20,000 and 200,000, or between one and ten percent of the gang members in the country, and that doesn’t include the members of gangs in the military.

Questioning the most violent gang in Texas – Gangs and the Military

In a recent article, KSAT (Click2Houston) reported on a Texas Safety Department report identifying four gangs that were considered the biggest threats in Texas: Tango Blast, Latin Kings, Texas Mexican Mafia and MS-13. The report also included a detailed concern about the potential for future gang-related targeting of officers in Texas. The likelihood of gangs targeting law enforcement has been on the FBI’s radar for many years, especially those gangs with members who have received military training.

Military-trained gang members pose a serious threat to law enforcement and to the public. They learn combat tactics in the military, then return home to utilize these new skills against rival gangs or law enforcement. Military training of individual gang members could ultimately result in more sophisticated and deadly gangs, as well as deadly assaults on law enforcement officers.

That’s the standard writeup for the biennial National Gang Intelligence Center report that summarizes the national threat of gangs and other crime groups. It applies to street gangs, as well as Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (OMGs) and Domestic Terrorist Extremists(DTEs).

Military-trained gang members (MTGM) include street gang, prison gang, OMG, or DTE group member per the applicable jurisdiction’s definition, with military training or experience, as perceived by a reasonable, typical, police officer.

gangs and the military
extended vertical GatM

MTGMs display indicators that they received military training either directly or indirectly. Indicators of military training include the use of military tactics, weapons, explosives, or equipment to conduct gang activity, and the use of distinctive military skills, particularly if gang members are trained in weapons, tactics, and planning, and then pass the instruction on to other gang members.140 Military tactics include the techniques and strategies taught in a variety of military occupational specialties, ranging from tactical assault to organizational leadership strategies.

The FBI has reported military-trained gang members in all branches of the military since 2005. Of all the issues with gangs and the military, street gang, OMG, and DTE members who have transitioned from the military back to the civilian community are the biggest threat, and the only issue that can be addressed without assistance from the military. Estimates of the number of MTGMs run from between 20,000 and 200,000, or between one and ten percent of the gang members in the country, and that doesn’t include the members of gangs in the military.

On the trail of military-trained gangster (OG) Sam Mason. 

Samuel Ross Mason was born in Norfolk, Virginia on November 8, 1739. He was raised in what is now Charles Town, West Virginia. He was accused of being a horse thief as a teenager, In 1767, he married and about 1773 moved his family to Ohio County, Virginia. Sam was respected as an upstanding citizen, and in 1777 Governor Patrick Henry commissioned him as a Captain of the Militia.

On September 1, 1777, Mason’s company went to check out a report of an Indian near the fort. Mason’s company saw an Indian, and followed him right into an ambush. Several of Mason’s men were killed or wounded. Mason was wounded twice, but managed to  hide. Mason recovered from his wounds.

In 1778, after property was determined missing from Fort Henry, Mason was a suspect. Mason moved his family to Washington County, Pennsylvania where he bought a 500 acre farm. In July, 1779, Mason commanded an expedition to destroy some Munsee Indian towns on the Allegany River. That made him popular back home. In July, 1781, he was elected justice of the peace and a few months later, he was named as an associate judge. By 1782, Mason appeared to have become successful, but he was actually deeply in debt.

https://sites.google.com/a/westliberty.edu/nicodemus-history-files/home/captain-samuel-mason

Red Banks (Henderson), Kentucky

In 1784, Red Banks was a lawless place. Many of its citizens had come there to escape the law. Mason expanded his criminal activities at Red Banks, counterfeiting and selling fake land certificates. In 1785, Mason’s Pennsylvania farm was sold to pay off his debt, but the sale only brought in half of what he owed. By 1789, the Pennsylvania court sent a man to attempt to collect the remaining debt or to arrest Mason. Once he learned of the debt collector, Mason he moved his family downriver to Diamond Island. After a few years of preying on travelers and boats up and down the Ohio River. often engaging in river piracy, s group of local citizens formed a group called the “Regulators” to seize Mason and his gang.

https://sites.google.com/a/westliberty.edu/nicodemus-history-files/home/captain-samuel-mason

Cave-In-Rock, Illinois

Mason moved his base of operations to a place known as “Cave in Rock” around 1797. Mason resumed his counterfeiting operation and opened an inn along with a tavern and brothel at Cave in Rock. The sign for the business read, “Wilson’s Liquor Vault and House of Entertainment.”

It quickly became a popular stopping place for the men who were transporting goods up and down the Mississippi river.

While the prostitutes in the brothel kept the boatmen busy, Mason’s gang members checked out their cargo.

The gang members would steal from the boats and often killed the boatmen, taking the stolen boats downriver to New Orleans where they sold the contents. Eventually, the Regulators began to put pressure on Mason’s operation at Cave in Rock and sought to arrest him, so he fled to the Natchez Trace where he became a Land Pirate.

Today, the Cave in Rock area is a state park.

https://sites.google.com/a/westliberty.edu/nicodemus-history-files/home/captain-samuel-mason

Fort Massac, Illinois

Located close to both Paducah, KY and Metropolis, Illinois, Fort Massac reigns majestically over the Ohio Rover. The rich history of the site of Fort Massac began when Native Americans took advantage of its strategic location. European explorers did the same as early as 1540, when Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto and his soldiers constructed a primitive fortification to defend themselves from hostile native attack.

The French built Fort De L’Ascension on the site in 1757, during the French and Indian War, when France and Great Britain were fighting for ultimate control of central North America. In 1759-60, the structure was rebuilt and renamed *Massiac in honor of the then French Minister of Colonial Affairs. It came under fire only once, when unsuccessfully attacked by a group of Cherokee.

Following the end of the French and Indian War in 1763, the French abandoned the fort and a band of Chickasaws burned it to the ground.

The British anglicized the name to “Massac” but, despite the counsel of their military advisers, they neither rebuilt nor re-garrisoned the fort. This oversight left them vulnerable and in 1778, during the Revolutionary War, Colonel George Rogers Clark led his “Long Knives” regiment into Illinois at Massac Creek. From there he was able to capture Kaskaskia, 100 miles to the north, without firing a shot, thus taking the entire Illinois Territory for the State of Virginia and the fledgling United States.

In 1794, President George Washington ordered the fort rebuilt, and for the next 20 years it protected U.S. military and commercial interests in the Ohio Valley.

The Fort was in operation during Mason’s time, and likely served as a deterrent while in that part of the river. Clark and his command traveled the Ohio from from June to August of 1778, during which they occupied the area around Fort Massac. Rothert noted that while his (Mason’s) brothers served with Colonel Clark, Mason, too, was a Revolutionary soldier. It would not be too much of a stretch to imagine that when he moved to the Ohio Rover area it was not the first time he had been there.

https://www.dnr.illinois.gov/Parks/About/Pages/FortMassac.aspx

Here’s the video – under two minutes . . .

 

Edward “Monk” Eastman — Gangster of Gangsters

Born as Edward, “Monk” Eastman owned a pet store, became a boxer, served as a sheriff, and was also a bouncer. He was a gangster’s gangster for many years and was very well connected. He was one of the last of the New York gangsters of the late 1800s, running the streets before the Italian Mafia took hold.

His gang, the Eastman’s, engaged in many street battles with the Five Pointers  (from which Al Capone got his criminal start). The two were surely among the first to conduct drive-by shootings.

Eastman’s fall from grace, if that happens for gang leaders, occurred not long after the robbery of a wealthy young man. Eastman became a pariah with many of his political supporters in Tammany Hall, and was ultimately convicted and served most of a ten-year sentence. Upon release, Eastman failed at his attempted to regain control in the underworld. He settled on work as a burglar, pickpocket, and opium dealer.

Monk Eastman’s Mug Shot

In 1917, at the age of forty-three, Eastman enlisted in the New York National Guard under the alias William Delaney.   During his military physical, the doctor observed a lot of scars on Eastman’s body and asked which wars he had been in; Eastman replied that he had been in, “a lot of little wars around New York.” He served honorably in France during “the” World War (WWI), and the Governor of New York restoring his citizenship in full after the war. Sadly, Monk did not change his ways and was murdered in 1921. He was buried, nonetheless, with full military honors.

Monk Eastman’s Military Funeral

Jesse and Frank James

The James Brothers, Jesse and Frank, were Civil War soldiers who became well known gang members. They were from western Missouri, and served much of their military time in the state. They were Confederate guerrillas, also known as bushwhackers. The bushwhackers typically hid in the woods and fought Union patrols, often by ambushing them or using hit-and-run tactics. During the war, the James Brothers robbed and sometimes murdered Missouri farmers loyal to the Union, while retaining the support of many of the local farmers.

James Brothers robbing train passengers

On July 21, 1873, the James gang carried out its first train robbery near Adair, Iowa. Source: Public Domain/Wikimedia

After the war, the James Brothers robbed banks, stagecoaches, and trains. The motivation for their crimes was a continuation of their wartime service. When they committed what was the first organized bank robbery in America, they were inspired primarily by politics, not acquiring money. They robbed the Clay County Savings Association in Liberty, Missouri, founded by supporters of the North. That robbery was the first daylight bank robbery in the United States. Many of their future crimes were also attacks on what they considered symbols of the evil Union government.

Clay County Savings Association Building

Clay County Savings Association Building, Source: Creative Commons/Wikimedia

On April 3, 1882, Jesse James was killed by a young member of his gang, hoping to collect reward money. After an unsuccessful attempt by prosecutors to convince juries in three separate trials that Frank was a criminal, he was declared a free man.  For thirty years, he worked in a number of legal capacities before retiring to the family farm in Missouri. Frank was the older brother. Frank James died on February 18, 1915 at the age of 72.

Sam Roberts and his Hounds

Photo: L. C. McClure – Brinkley, Douglas: History of the United States. Viking Penguin. New York, 1998. Page 151, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2125279

The Gold Rush of 1848 was among the events that led to the rapid growth of San Francisco (previously Yerbe Buena). Merchants moved to support the area’s growth by shipping all manner of items. Paradoxically, due to the gold rush, many sea captains lost control of their crews, as the sailors simply walked off their ships and headed to the gold mines upon arriving in port. That left the ship captains no way to offload their cargo, and in a very short time, hundreds of ships clogged the harbor, abandoned and full.

Members of the Five Points Gang of New York CityFivepointsgang.jpg

About that same time, a regiment of soldiers was released in San Francisco following service in the Mexican-American War.  Many of the veterans had been members or associates of the Bowery and Five Points gangs in New York. The former gang member veterans knew a lot about discipline, and were hired by local businessmen to round up the sailors who had fled their responsibilities. As their reputation grew the group members called themselves the Hounds, formed to “protect American citizens against Spanish-speaking foreigners” during the Gold Rush.

The gold rush had excited people from all over the world, and treasure-seekers from the other side of the American continent and Europe rushed to set up mining operations, while people from Central and South America got started mining. The existence of those foreigners incensed the Hounds, who attacked many of them, claiming their motivation for beating and stabbing their victims was patriotism. By 1849, the Hounds adopted the name of San Francisco Society of Regulators and demanded all San Franciscans pay them for protecting the city.  Often they would order drinks at a bar and suggest the bartender collect the debt from the city.

Sam Roberts the leader of the group, prompted the downfall of the Hounds  with a fit of jealousy. He had fallen for a Chilean prostitute, and when he found her one day in the company of another man, Roberts beat him badly. That night, Roberts and the Hounds caused a lot of damage in town, prompting responsible citizens to “take back” their city. Those special deputies arrested about twenty members of the Hounds, including Roberts. Although Roberts and eight others were convicted, there was no record of him actually serving his sentence. Other members of the Hounds escaped, and all apparently ceased their criminal behavior.

Sam Mason – the first military-trained gang member

The first military trained gang member was a river pirate in the 1790s. The river pirates conducted similar activities to today’s gangs, with a selection of ambushes, assaults, thefts, and robberies of both travelers and merchants. Perhaps the biggest difference between those gangs and contemporary gangs was their mode of transportation.

Today’s street gang and domestic terrorist group members typically travel by automobile and outlaw bikers travel by motorcycle. As neither had yet been invented, the river pirates of the 1790s traveled by boat, horse, or foot.

Sam Mason

Samuel Mason was a militia captain with the Ohio County Militia, part of the Virginia State Forces during the American Revolution. Mason was badly wounded  in 1777, when a band of Indians ambushed his party during an attack. All his men were massacred, as were a group that tried to come to their aid. Mason ultimately left the militia and searched for a new career, as many veterans do. In the 1790s, he settled at Red Bank (now Henderson), Kentucky and chose river piracy as his new profession.

Cave in Rock

In 1797, Mason moved his operations to Cave-in-Rock, on the Illinois side of the Ohio River. There, the gang welcomed riverboat travelers, distracting them while other gang members examined their possessions for anything of value. If they found something they wanted, they robbed the visitors as they left the docks. The Mason Gang was forced to leave Cave-in-Rock in 1799 when they were attacked by a group of vigilante bounty hunters.

Sam Mason on the Trace

They moved downriver to the territory known as Spanish Louisiana and became land pirates (highwaymen) on the Natchez Trace, robbing and killing travelers who traversed the 440 miles of wilderness between Nashville, Tennessee and Natchez in the Mississippi Territory. The Trace was often used for return overland travel by folks who had taken a boat down the Mississippi River.

Mason was finally caught in southeastern Missouri, and his trial in a Spanish court resulted in a guilty verdict. Although he escaped during transport shortly thereafter, a $2,500 reward motivated two of his fellow criminals and they brought in Mason’s head in September 1803. Sadly, they were unable to accept the reward money as they, too, were wanted men.

I shot some pics and video on a trip to investigate Mason’s haunts. Here it is: https://youtu.be/fSMT03ihEVs