Three Members Of Modesto Hells Angels, Including Vice President And Secretary, Indicted For Firearm And Drug Offenses
FRESNO, Calif. — Three members of the Modesto Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, including the Club's Vice President and Secretary, were charged yesterday in four separate indictments, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced. Hell's Angels Vice President Michael Shafer, 31, of Modesto, was charged with conspiring to distribute marijuana, conspiring to distribute heroin, distribution of marijuana, and two counts of use of a communication facility to facilitate a drug trafficking offense. Hells Angels Secretary Patrick Gonzales, 31, of Modesto, was charged with being a felon in possession of firearm and ammunition. Hells Angels member Ricky Blackwell was charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense, and possession of a firearm after suffering a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction.
In conjunction with the charges, officers executed search warrants at the residences of Shafer and Gonzales, along with other locations. According to court documents, at Gonzales’s residence officers found the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club World Rules, the rulebook that governs all Hells Angels Motorcycle Clubs. Officers also found the rules for the Modesto Charter of the Hells Angels, minutes of club meetings, membership information, and membership agreements.
This case was the result of a months-long investigation into the Modesto Hells Angels Chapter. Earlier this year, Modesto Hells Angels President Randy Picchi was charged with conspiring to distribute methamphetamine for leading a drug conspiracy that involved his wife, Tina Picchi, Michael Mize, and Hell's Angels member Michael Pack. The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Internal Revenue Service, Modesto Police Department, Turlock Police Department, the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and the California Highway Patrol. Assistant United States Attorneys Ross Pearson and Laurel Montoya are prosecuting the case.
If convicted, Shafer faces a maximum statutory penalty of 40 years in prison, a mandatory minimum 5 years in prison, and a $5,000,000 fine. Gonzales faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Blackwell faces a maximum penalty of life in prison, a mandatory minimum 5 years in prison, and a $250,000 fine. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
This case was part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The OCDETF Program was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multi-level attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s drug supply.