SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — The San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office are sounding the alarm as thousands of affiliates of an infamous motorcycle club are coming to Stockton.
“There is a long history of these types of gatherings resulting in shootings, stabbings and homicides,” said San Joaquin County Sheriff Pat Withrow.
The gathering is a funeral for Sonny Barger, a founder of the Oakland chapter of Hells Angels, which is considered by law enforcement to be an outlaw motorcycle gang or “OMG,” according to the Department of Justice website.
“The Hells Angels, Mongols, Bandidos, outlaws, and sons of silence pose a serious national domestic threat and conduct the majority of criminal activity linked to ‘OMGs,’ especially activity relating to drug trafficking,” Withrow said.
Initially, the memorial was supposed to be held in Oakland, according to Withrow.
“It was going to be on public lands at the coliseum, and the number was going to be so astronomical that they canceled it there,” Withrow said.
Instead, preparations are underway at the 99 Speedway near Stockton, a private venue.
“We’ve been talking about it for months now. Lining this thing up having meetings with sheriff’s department, CHPs assembly, folks, I mean supervisors, there’s been a lot of work behind the scenes,” speedway owner Tony Noceti told FOX40 News on Wednesday.
However, Withrow made it very clear, he’s not happy with the owner’s decision to continue with the event, and says he tried unsuccessfully to get a court order to stop it.
“This is costing the taxpayers millions of dollars because Mr. Noceti wouldn’t listen to law enforcement,” Withrow said.
Though law enforcement is not protecting the venue itself, Withrow said the cost is associated with the city, county, and federal officers who will be deployed around the area to keep any potential violence from spreading into the public.
“There are definitely going to be rival gangs in the area, when those two mix there is usually trouble,” Withrow said.
While 4,000 people are said to have RSVPed to the event, Withrow believes as many as 20,000 to 40,000 people affiliated with Hells Angels could be coming and he says law enforcement will be ready.
“We are bringing an exorbitant amount of resources to make sure we can squash any problem whatsoever,” Withrow said.