Criminal motorcycle gang activity ‘at dangerous level’

Published 8:24 pm Thursday, October 14, 2021

Vernon Parish authorities are taking a hard stance on what they are calling an “outlaw motorcycle gang war” that is bringing an increased threat to the public.

Last week, Sheriff Sam Craft announced that three men had been arrested following an investigation into an incident that occurred at a New Llano business on Sept. 11, where members of rival gangs drew weapons upon each other and showed “disregard for the innocent civilians around them.”

James Larry Birdsong, 33, of New Llano; Christopher William Moore, 33, of DeRidder; and James Allen Snyder Jr., 44, of DeRidder were arrested on Oct. 7 and charged with one count each of terrorizing and criminal conspiracy.

Birdsong received additional charges of aggravated assault with a firearm, and one count of possession of a firearm on premises of an alcohol beverage outlet.

Craft said the incident was the result of an escalation of violence between rival motorcycle organizations, and that the community was instrumental in the arrests.

“Community involvement was the catalyst for the operation, which progressed the investigation at an accelerated pace. The community as a whole become involved and supported the investigation with information, a well as direct evidence of criminal acts involving the gang members,” Craft said.

Craft said during the investigation into the Sept. 11 incident, executed search warrants yielded the seizure of multiple firearms.

The Oct. 7 arrests follow the Sept. 29 arrests of three Leesville residents alleged to have also been involved in criminal gang activities.

Michael Falcone, 40, Brian Chappell, 57, and Layle Schmidt, 46, were each charged with possessing a large quantity of methamphetamine, and had in excess of 20 firearms concealed in a vehicle during a traffic stop.

Craft said the rise in criminal gang activity between rival motorcycle organizations has increased over the past several months to a dangerous level, and his department is taking a zero-tolerance stance in its response to what he has called an influx of “one percenter” motorcycle organizations that pose a threat to the community.

“These motorcycle gangs make a conscious effort to present these gangs as community-friendly, but in fact they almost always engage in nefarious criminal activities to include the distribution and sale of illegal narcotics,” Craft said.

Craft said the violence escalated earlier this year as members of the motorcycle organization Mongol Nation established itself in Louisiana. He said Mongol Nation is only one of the “active one percenter” motorcycle organizations active in Vernon Parish.

“Our community has endured significant disruptions recently, as the rival gangs have been engaging in show of force antics within Vernon Parish. This behavior and criminal conduct is unwanted in our communities and many businesses have now adopted new policies to discourage this sort of criminal behavior,” he said.

Anyone with information regarding criminal gang activity is encouraged to contact VPSO at 337-238-1311.