Four people were arrested on suspected drug charges, including the group's leader.Methamphetamine was found at the Gypsy Joker Motorcycle Club compound at West 19th Avenue and South Gum Street. Benton County Undersheriff Paul Hart said they needed so many officers as a "precautionary" step because the Gypsy Jokers are known to be connected to drugs and other criminal activities."It is an outlaw motorcycle gang with convicted felons who reside there," Hart said. "We gear up to meet that threat."Some stolen property and a couple of weapons also were seized, he said.
The Violent Crimes Task Force, made up of federal agents and local police detectives, raided the club house and two homes at 5 a.m.The Benton County Regional SWAT team and the Yakima SWAT team were used to help search all the buildings."Because of the large site ... it makes it difficult to secure and make sure everybody is safe," Hart said. "The Violent Crimes Task Force ... developed enough information to believe there was stolen property on this property. They don't have the manpower to effect a safe search warrant so they came to us to help."
SWAT members used loud explosives called "flash bangs" to disorient the people inside the buildings before they entered and made the arrests.Ronald B. Campbell, 57; Andrea G. Reeder, 43; Dylan C. Grose, 52; and William C. Casteel, 39, were booked into the Benton County jail on suspicion of possessing meth.Campbell is the founder and president of the Tri-City chapter of the Gypsy Jokers.Jokers say they're a fraternal club, essentially just motorcycle enthusiasts, but police say otherwise.
Officers were at the club compound about two weeks ago, and Casteel also was arrested then on a warrant for failing to comply with court orders.Wednesday's raid was connected to the March 27 arrest, but no additional details were released because the joint investigation, which involves the FBI, is still ongoing, said Robbie Burroughs, an FBI spokeswoman in Seattle.The club was started in San Francisco on April Fools' Day 1956, but moved to Washington and Oregon after losing a sometimes bloody turf dispute with the Hells Angels in 1967.Police consider the club an outlaw motorcycle gang, like the Hells Angels, because members say Jokers swear allegiance to a lifestyle often at odds with society.
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