A federal judge in Los Angeles was weighing Monday whether to allow the government to seize the trademarked name and logo of the Mongols motorcycle club as part of a racketeering indictment against the gang.
During a brief hearing in Los Angeles federal court, U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright II told prosecutors to prepare a proposed order for the forfeiture of the gang’s trademark, which members display as part of their “colors,” or patch.
A 2008 racketeering indictment charged almost 80 members of the gang with murder, torture and drug trafficking, and asked that the trademark and logo — a Genghis Khan-like figure aboard a chopper — be forfeited.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said the current effort marks the first time in which the government has attempted to seize a gang’s trademarks.
The Mongols’ website displays the logo on its home page and promises to have an online store running soon.
The Mongols were formed in the 1970s by a group of Latinos who had been rejected by the Hells Angels. The gang now has between 500 and 600 members, the majority of them in Southern California, according to federal prosecutors.
The Mongols fund their organization mostly through the sale of methamphetamine, according to the indictment, which stemmed from a three-year undercover operation called “Operation Black Rain.”
Many of those charged have pleaded guilty, but most of the plea agreements in the case have been sealed, apparently for fear of retaliation by other Mongols, associates of the club or members of the Mexican Mafia, which has been known to place a “green light” — or murder contract — on those who cooperate with the government.