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Owing to the difficulty of conducting empirical research within sophisticated and highly organized criminal enterprises, modern biker gangs have long remained an enigma within law enforcement and academic circles. Despite their secrecy, with an army of an estimated 20,000 members and an unknown number of associates willing to do their bidding, these organizations are responsible for drug trafficking in the streets and within prisons, violence, theft, prostitution rings, and other dangerous criminal behavior both domestically and abroad. In order to address the dearth of readily available information regarding modern biker gangs, this paper serves as a review of the current literature. Utilizing the available research, this paper synthesizes and describes the literature regarding the subculture and values of biker gangs that separates them from traditional motorcycle clubs, the structure and criminality of biker gangs, and profiles of four of the largest modern biker gangs (the Hells Angels, the Bandidos, the Outlaws, and the Mongols). Policy implications to better track these groups are also discussed. The paper concludes with a discussion of the findings and implications for future research.


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Justice Policy Journal - Volume 9, Number 1 - Spring 2012