Kirkus Reviews QR Code
VAGOS, MONGOLS, AND OUTLAWS by Charles Falco

VAGOS, MONGOLS, AND OUTLAWS

My Infiltration of America's Deadliest Biker Gangs

By Charles Falco (Author) , Kerrie Droban (Author)

Pub Date: March 12th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-312-64014-9
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Fevered yet strangely generic account of a lawbreaker who came to enjoy a high-risk occupation: infiltrating outlaw motorcycle gangs.

It’s hard to know who to root for in this true-crime narrative: duplicitous career criminal Falco (who co-wrote this with attorney Droban, author of two books on these gangs) or the violent, ritual-obsessed gangsters he pursued. Falco was not a natural biker, but a drug dealer who agreed to infiltrate the Vagos after establishing himself as a confidential informant for the DEA following a 2002 plea agreement. “Having lived so long as a criminal, it was hard to remember I was a good guy now,” he writes. Falco infiltrated the Vagos easily, but he was sucked into their lifestyle of drug use, abuse of women, criminal schemes and random violence, portrayed in a series of choppy vignettes; he even wound up incarcerated while undercover. By 2006, Falco had helped law enforcement gather sufficient evidence to charge numerous Vagos with serious crimes (though most pled out and received shorter sentences). Yet, even after entering witness protection, Falco was evidently addicted to the informant’s lifestyle; he then helped two ATF undercover agents set up an entire fake chapter of the Outlaws motorcycle gang (“infinitely more brutal and unpredictable”), pursuing further indictments in another long investigation. Although the author’s approach aspires to be specific rather than general, the prose tends to be overheated and often sleazy, and the narrative becomes increasingly confusing. Despite Falco’s proximity to the “one-percenters” he ensnared, he offers little insight into their character or motivations or the tangled history of these gangs.

A blur of pulpy violence that may appeal to those who romanticize the biker lifestyle. The book is quite similar to George Rowe's Gods of Mischief (2013).