Less than eight months after federal agents dismantled the Outlaws Motorcycle Club in Fort Wayne and Indianapolis, remnants of the gang may have reclaimed their old clubhouses.
At least two locations linked with the club – long associated with drugs, violence and extortion – now advertise the Outlaws' presence with brand-new signage, a possible indication of activity there by new members, a federal official said.
“It's frustrating, and we've had complaints from citizens here in Indianapolis, as well,” said Tim Horty, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for Indiana's southern district. “These are probably new members, but to say we know of any illegal activity going on there, we don't know that.”
Horty said federal authorities are trying to seize the clubhouses through a civil court process under which a judge could rule that the properties were used for criminal activity and hand them over to the government. Until then, investigators continue to look out for crimes by people linked with the gang, he said.
“It's just the American way that you're innocent until proven guilty of new crimes,” he said.
Officer Raquel Foster, a Fort Wayne Police Department spokeswoman, said local police were not aware of activity at the Outlaws' Fort Wayne clubhouse at West Main and Cherry streets.
In July, federal authorities launched a massive day-long raid of several Outlaws locations, including in Fort Wayne. U.S. Attorney Joseph Hogsett called the raids, which resulted in the arrests of 42 Outlaws members, a “historic takedown” of organized crime.
FBI agents seized at least 35 guns, including assault rifles; a kilogram of cocaine and other drugs; more than $14,000 in cash; and more than a dozen cars and motorcycles, Hogsett said. Nine more members were charged in October.
Two men arrested in the raids, including a Fort Wayne man, were sentenced last month after pleading guilty to federal racketeering charges. A federal judge sentenced 49-year-old Kent Whitinger, of Indianapolis, to seven years and three months in prison and 38-year-old Steve Reynolds, of Fort Wayne, to five years and 10 months.
Chris Shatto, president of the Nebraska Neighborhood Association, said he has not heard complaints from any residents who live near the clubhouse.
"What the folks down in that neck of the woods tell us is they're pretty quiet and don't cause much trouble in the neighborhood," Shatto said, adding that he heard few complaints even before the July raids.
Federal authorities have described the Outlaws as a criminal organization where violence is a part of doing business.
In 2008, members of the Fort Wayne chapter were among 16 Outlaws who were indicted by a grand jury on charges related to violence and drug trafficking. Fourteen Outlaws later pleaded guilty to assorted crimes.