Law enforcement saturation during Hells Angels visit going according to planAlthough officers had stopped what sounds like an enormous number of vehicles in the area since Wednesday – 250 vehicles and motorcycles – as of 1 p.m. Thursday, only 24 of 95 citations were issued to Hells Angles members, Carlton County Sheriff Kelly Lake said Thursday at a media briefing in Carlton.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
Although officers had stopped what sounds like an enormous number of vehicles in the area since Wednesday – 250 vehicles and motorcycles – as of 1 p.m. Thursday, only 24 of 95 citations were issued to Hells Angles members, Carlton County Sheriff Kelly Lake said Thursday at a media briefing in Carlton.
The other 71 citations were written for motorists not affiliated with the motorcycle club and most of the 95 citations were speeding tickets.
“So far things have gone very well,” said St. Louis County Sheriff Ross Litman.
“Everyone has been cooperative on the stops,” added Lake.
One 43-year-old Hells Angel from New York was arrested Wednesday night for driving under the influence and refusing to give a breathalyzer test. Further investigation revealed that the motorcycle that Jeffrey Paul Amato was driving at the time of his arrest had been reported stolen in the state of New Jersey.
Amato posted $600 cash bail this afternoon and was released from Carlton County Jail pending a future court appearance.
Some 300 members of the club had arrived in Carlton as of Thursday and officials expected the number to climb to 500 by the end of the day. Most were concentrated in the Carlton area between Black Bear Casino Resort and the Lost Isle Bar, which motorcycle club members have rented through Sunday for their events.
Law enforcement officials said they had not talked to anyone from the Hells Angels since Monday and still said they did not know when or if any large group rides would take place. Small groups were seen riding through nearby Jay Cooke State Park on Wednesday.
Lake told local reporters, several from the Twin Cities and a documentary team from cable’s Discovery Channel that she was pleased with how the week was progressing.
“Only one arrest and some citations for minor traffic violations – this is good in our books,” Lake said.
Officials had no new information about the motorcycle group known as the Outlaws, who had reportedly gathered yesterday in Northwestern Wisconsin in response to the Hells Angels event.
“We are still closely monitoring that,” she said. “There still has been no movement by the Outlaws to enter Minnesota.”
Although Lake declined to comment on exactly how many officers are patrolling the area this week, she said in addition to a core team from the Carlton County Sheriff’s Office, Cloquet Police, Fond du Lac Police, St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office, Duluth Police and the Minnesota State Patrol, federal agencies are involved as well.
Officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), U.S. Border Patrol and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have played a role in planning and some are also patrolling the area.
She would not talk about the specific cost involved in the law enforcement planning and operations, but said multiple agencies will share the cost and that she has applied for grant funding as well.
“We can’t talk about it yet because it’s still happening,” she said. “We will have those numbers in the future,” she said.
One reporter asked if it was illegal for the Hells Angels to build a fortress of cargo units that blocked the view of the Lost Isle from the road. It’s legal, because it’s a private property, Lake said.
Another asked about a tip she had gotten from a Wrenshall resident who said “a challenge had been laid down in Wrenshall between the Hells Angels and Outlaws." Law enforcement officials at the meeting said they were not aware of any challenge or any motorcycle activity in Wrenshall.
With mixed local reaction to the Hells Angels visit and the increased law enforcement presence, a reporter asked if they had heard many complaints.
Lake said she had taken only one call about those concerns.
“This is a plan used by law enforcement across the country and it’s a plan that has worked in the past and is so far working here,” she said.
“If [one DUI] is all we have to talk about this week, then we’ve done our jobs,” added Litman.