The Mongols Motorcycle Club made an appearance and caused a stir at the 2011 Laughlin River Run. Back in 2002, the Mongols MC clashed with the Hells Angels in violence that rocked the small gambling community on the banks of the Colorado River. That confrontation left two Hells Angels and one Mongol dead.
In my recent trip to the Laughlin River Run for an upcoming AllAboutBikes feature, I was witness to an almost surreal scene as the Mongols once again rolled into town. As a journalist, it pays to be in the right place at the right time.
I was snapping photos of the first night of the Laughlin River Run when dozens of Mongols rumbled into the parking lot of the Aquarius Resort and Casino. As the Mongols arrived sporting the three-piece patches of the California and Nevada chapters, the River Run crowd parted like they were in the presence of rock stars. The mystique is alive and well.
The truly amazing thing was how quickly a heavily armed police presence arrived in the wake of the Mongols’ appearance. Uniformed and body-armored representatives of several local and state agencies pulled into the Aquarius no more than three minutes after the Mongols.
There was no mystery as to why the law enforcement presence was there. The police converged immediately on where the Mongols were parking their Harleys. There was clearly some tension; however, the contact seemed courteous and business-like. Soon there were several satellite conversations between small groups of police and Mongols.
As I was snapping photos of the various conversations, a fully body-armored officer approached me to ask what I was doing. I replied that I was just shooting some photos. He told me firmly but politely not to stand behind any of the law enforcement officers. It was very clear that this was a heightened alert situation for the police.
After several minutes of activity in the Aquarius parking lot, the Mongols made their way to the casino’s outdoor bar where they spent the next several hours drinking beer, hugging newly arriving members and causing no problems.
When I saw that there didn’t seem to be any more drama. I made my way to the Aquarius elevators to head to my room. Also waiting for an elevator were three armed and vested Las Vegas police officers. They were carrying what looked like rifle cases and communications equipment. I was a little intimidated, but I managed to ask, “Are you expecting trouble this year?” One of the officers replied, “We’re just here to keep the peace.” They then entered a waiting elevator and I entered another.
Courtesy of AllAboutBikes.com