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In Paranormal Witness Season 5, Episode 8: "The Pit," we attended the harrowing tale of the ghost of a woman murdered by an outlaw biker. So where did outlaw biker culture come from?
The history of outlaw or 'one-percent' motorcycle gangs began when the world's oldest motorcycle club, The Outlaws, made its debut on the open roads of Route 66 in 1935. Soon after, in the late 1940s, disillusioned ex-serviceman returned from World War II and struggled to settle back into an ordinary way of life. They set up motorcycle clubs across the United States, which offered the men a sense of brotherhood, understanding and belonging; qualities they missed, and craved, post-service. The bikers of these outlaw motorcycle clubs were given the name 'one-percenters' as it is widely assumed and accepted that 99% of motorcycle clubs are law-abiding.
The criminal activity and growth of outlaw motorcycle clubs continued to gain momentum, peaking in the late '60s and early '70s. Trafficking, racketeering, contract killings, turf wars and the mistreatment of women were rife during this time and continue to this day. Even now, The Outlaws are at war with the Hells Angels, who have made numerous attempts to encroach on their territory, while the longstanding blood feud between the Hells Angels and the Bandidos is said to be the bloodiest in recorded biker feud history.
The Outlaws, Hells Angels and Bandidos form the three main international outlaw clubs and have chapters around the world. There have also been cases of smaller clubs merging with local chapters of larger clubs to strengthen their support base. Satans Slaves Motorcycle Club, for example, was 'patched over' by the San Fernando Valley chapter of the Hells Angels in 1978. Satans Slaves were founded in California in the early '60s and had ties with the infamous Charles Manson, who was said to have local outlaw bikers at his Spahn Ranch base for security. The Hells Angels' presence is strongest in California and it is thought that original members of Satans Slaves still form part of their San Fernando Valley chapter today.
The Hells Angels were founded in 1948 and are perhaps the best-known outlaw motorcycle club in the world; however, the US Department of Justice has identified eight motorcycle clubs that it believes have their hands in organized crime: Hells Angels, Mongols, Outlaws, Pagans, Sons of Silence, Vagos, Bandidos and Cossacks. These clubs screen heavily before taking people on as members so as to ensure the club's philosophies are instilled accordingly. Members must protect the interests of the club … at all costs.