Brash account of a reformed bad boy’s decision to help the federal government take down “Green Nation,” the Vagos outlaw motorcycle gang.
Rowe, currently enrolled in the Witness Protection Program, makes no bones about his sinful past as a street-fighting drug dealer and convicted felon: “On [methamphetamine] my ego was out of control....I became a feared man about town.” Yet it was just this reputation that allowed him to infiltrate the Vagos, after concluding that the gang had become a violent plague upon his hometown, the hardscrabble Southern California city of Hemet. “Through fear and intimidation, the Hemet chapter demanded respect...making life miserable for everyone in town,” he writes. Rowe linked up with an ATF agent involved in the “One Percenter Task Force,” devoted to targeting OMGs. Although his local Vagos had previously tried to recruit him, Rowe still endured a humiliating period of hazing and servitude as a “prospect.” Even after he became a “full patch” member of the gang, ATF’s investigation ground on for nearly three years, allowing Rowe to record himself buying guns and drugs from fellow gang members. Still, the author felt an obvious affinity for the bikers, or at least those who avoided brutalizing civilians: “the Vagos offered a family where the misfit toys could find common ground and belong to something greater than themselves.” Rowe writes clearly, with a lighter touch and a more grounded specificity than in many reformed-gangster memoirs. However, he focuses more on the personal strain created by his undercover life, and his long-term romance with a volatile heroin addict, than on developing a full, specific narrative of the Vagos’ misdeeds. Thus, the story becomes less compelling, even as the task force’s operation reaches its climax, resulting in 40 arrests and several convictions for murder and other offenses.
Plausible yet incomplete account of biker criminality, delivered with more grime than romanticism.