Charles Falco, author
BY JOAN WHITELY -- A former Vagos biker, who has written a book about his time undercover with the gang, praises the recent arrests of 28 Vagos members by Las Vegas Metro Police and federal agents. Four of the bikers who were arrested in an investigation dubbed Operation Pure Luck reside in Las Vegas or Henderson.
The ex-rider, who went by the Vagos handle “Quickdraw,” is now in the federal witness protection program. But he used the name Charles Falco to co-author “Vagos, Mongols, and Outlaws: My Infiltration of America’s Deadliest Biker Gangs.”
“They’re thugs. They’re bullies … so they can put fear in the normal civilian, so they can feel like they have power,” says Falco. Although the Vagos group styles itself as a motorcycle club, Falco claims its main activity is “making war over territory they don’t own,” either against other biker gangs, non-biker criminal elements or law enforcement.
The Vagos arrests in June were spread over several states. Authorized seized drugs and guns when they made the arrests on charges including gun and drug trafficking, false imprisonment and battery with substantial bodily harm, according to media reports.
Falco rode undercover with the Vagos from 2003 to 2006. Recruited for the job by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, Falco started as a “hangaround” -- sort of a biker groupie who does menial labor such as washing motorcycles or carrying a member’s gun. The next step is to earn a “patch,” which requires the approval of all chapter members.
“It’s like pledging to join a violent fraternity,” said Falco, who eventually rose to the rank of Vagos lieutenant.
Contrary to the Vagos name – which Falco says comes from a Spanish word for “gypsy” – he estimates that only about 30 percent of members are Hispanic. The author, who grew up in Southern California, describes himself in the book as the survivor of a “poverty-stricken childhood as a white sore in a Hispanic barrio.”
He deplores the romantic, idealized depictions of biker gangs in movies or television shows, such as FX cable’s “Sons of Anarchy.”
“There’s no brotherhood involved … The brotherhood is fake,” Falco concluded. In his view, he biker life style boils down to cutthroat “fighting for power,” which pits member against member.