U.S. judge releases Mongols

Four of five members of the Mongols outlaw motorcycle club accused of conspiring to sell illegal drugs were released from custody Friday, three days after they were snared in a nationwide sting.

William “Moreno” Ramirez, 38, was kept in custody because he played a leadership role in the biker gang, serving as vice president of the Henderson chapter. U.S. District Judge George Foley also expressed concern because Ramirez is the roommate of Sam Travino, president of the Henderson chapter, who fled when word leaked of Tuesday’s sweep.

Defense attorneys said Friday that Travino was working out a self-surrender deal with federal authorities.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Damm urged Foley to keep all the defendants in jail, citing their active participation in the club perhaps best known for their deadly 2002 gunfight with the Hells Angels inside a Laughlin casino.

Damm said the bikers were flight risks because the club protects members on the run.

“They have an active association and participation in the Mongols motorcycle gang,” Damm said. “Their creed is to assist one another; they have chapters across the United States.”

Foley transferred the case to the Central District of California. A trial date has yet to be set.

Released on Friday were Harold “Face” Reynolds, 40, David “Lazy Dave” Padilla, 38, Padilla’s uncle Ismael “Milo” Padilla, 33, and 33-year-old Jason “Big Jay” Hull.

Foley noted that each man had close family ties in Las Vegas and most of them were employed or previously employed. He banned them from any communications with Mongols members while they await trial.

Foley had reservations about releasing Hull because of a tattoo he sports that says: “Respect few, fear none.” Damm told the judge that the Mongols headquarters rewards members who commit murder and other violent acts with patches with the same phrase.

Damm also expressed concerns about the release of Reynolds. Federal agents found photographs of the rival Hells Angels bikers in Reynolds’ home. Damm said accompanying the photos was what appeared to be notes from background checks on the Hells Angels and their families. Foley ordered Reynolds to stay away from Hells Angels members.

Operation Black Rain included sweeps in California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Florida, Ohio and Nevada. In all, 110 arrest warrants were issued and 150 search warrants served.

The five men who appeared in federal court Friday all face charges of conspiring to distribute controlled substances. They face a minimum of 10 years in prison.

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