By February 6, 2007

Good luck, Agent Dobyns

CNN has run two pieces in a developing story about an ATF agent who infiltrated the infamous motorcycle gang the Hells Angels. Agent Jay Dobyns was part of the Hells Angels from 2001 to 2003. His initiation: killing a rival motorcycle gang member. The murder was filmed on videotape, and Dobyns was accepted into the Hells Angels. The death of the gangster was faked, an elaborate use of cow’s guts, special effects, and fancy camerawork. From that point on, Dobyns helped build a case against the Hells Angels that ultimately resulted sixteen of their members and associates going to trial. Unfortunately for Agent Dobyns, the dangerous part of his assignment has just begun.

Dobyns’ undercover work ended when the Hells Angels went to trial. His identity as a law enforcement officer was revealed, and now the Angels are after him and his family. Dobyns insists the ATF isn’t doing anything to protect him. Now that Dobyns is no longer undercover, he and his family are not eligible for the highest levels of witness protection and security measures. According to Dobyns, the ATF told him that he’d have to move his family on his own dime. “In order to save money, I was told it wasn’t cost effective.”

Unbelievable. Ask a guy to put his life on hold for two years to pretend he’s a gang member, fake a murder, fake shacking up with another woman (also an ATF agent), and endanger his family by revealing his true identity in court? No problem. But when he asks for protection and relocation? Oh, that’s too fucking expensive. Dobyns has filed a formal complaint against the ATF, but the CNN article mentioned something that made me worry for agents besides Dobyns. A retired ATF agent of 23 years who taught other agents how to go undercover stated that Dobyns’ case is not isolated. For the first time in long while, it made me think of my friend Jesse, who was in training to become an ATF agent the last I heard from him.

Jesse wanted to be a demolitions expert in the military until his uncle, a Secret Service agent who served under three presidents, was killed in the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995. After his uncle died, Jesse didn’t want to blow things up any more: he wanted to stop it from happening. Due to changing jobs and residences so often, and more than a fair amount of laziness, I’ve lost track with Jesse. Stories like Dobyns’ make me wonder if I’ll even have a chance of finding him again. I know it’s a long shot, but if any of my Gibberish readers have ties to the ATF please let me know. I’d like to catch up with my only friend from my home town in Oklahoma.

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