Officials: Pagans motorcycle club a growing threat in New Jersey
State officials say that New Jersey is facing a growing threat from the Pagans motorcycle club.
Investigators say that the club is a violent gang that is involved in drug trafficking. The State Commission on Investigation detailed Wednesday the quick growth of the club during a more than a two-hour public hearing.
Agents testified they've uncovered evidence the gang is trafficking meth, extorting businesses and violently skirmishing with other gangs.
“Drug distribution, primarily methamphetamines, to assault and that sort of thing,” says Lee Seglem with the commission. “So, I think it's a fairly significant threat to the public peace and safety in New Jersey.”
Investigators say the club has grown from 10 to at least 17 chapters since 2016 and aims at becoming dominant along the East Coast.
"In New Jersey, it's going to be hard to find a county where you don't have a Pagan presence,” says investigative agent Edwin Torres. “Primarily they were South Jersey. Now they are going into North Jersey and as far north as Bergen County.”
Officials say that the all-male group has a loose connection to white supremacist groups like the Aryan Brotherhood.
"Women are treated like they're property,” says investigator Nicole McCann. “’Pets’ are women who are shared sexually among the group. They're typically given as many drugs or drinks as they want. It's the lowest class of Pagan women.”
Investigators say that the Pagans are taking over territory that was formerly dominated by another motorcycle club, Hell’s Angels.
Three reputed top-tier members of the Pagans were subpoenaed to appear at Wednesday’s hearing. The members all exercised their Fifth Amendment rights when questioned about their involvement
Hugo Nieves, identified as club vice president, added it's not the club's policy to "engage in criminal activity."
Pagan members have been identified as municipal, state and school employees, ex-law enforcement and even one former municipal court judge, according to officials.
The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.