Despite legal cannabis being available in California since 2016 (1996 for medical marijuana patients), the black market for marijuana is still vast, some say even bigger than prior to legalization due in part to high taxes and operating/licensing costs for legitimate growers and dispensaries. It has become largely unprofitable and impractical for Mexican cartels to smuggle massive amounts of weed across the border into California.
The quality and THC levels of even illegal grows in California have far surpassed the Mexican-grown strains to the point of California weed being smuggled in reverse and finding its way into illegal dispensaries in places such as Culiacan, Sinaloa.
Many, including organized crime groups such as the Sinaloa Cartel, Hells Angels, and other bikers, and various Asian groups including Chinese and Mong have set up large-scale illegal or semi-legal grow ops, often in suburban tract homes, out in massive deserts or forest areas and industrial warehouses. These illegal grows, are often busted by local authorities and shut down with little more than confiscations and fines being the punishment (additional charges can include contaminating a water supply, stealing electricity, and money laundering.) These illegal grow ops have also been sites of violence and death, whether due to robberies, business disputes, or internal issues.
Another aspect of the black market marijuana problems plaguing California, especially regarding gang members in more downtown areas, is simply robbing legitimate cannabis products and flower in order to sell on the black market. It is then sold primarily using social media including Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat to advertise not only the green goods for sale but brag about and show off their crimes, lifestyle, and even incriminating their own friends.
The latter of that showing off has helped to implicate members of a long-time Sureño-13 gang based in South East Los Angeles, in multiple rip-offs and attempted rip-offs of marijuana cultivation warehouses to sell on the black market.
Breaking into the Wrong Warehouse
On July 12, 2023, an armed crew rammed an older Tahoe into the roll-up door of a warehouse in Los Angeles. No weed was to be found, but little did they know the warehouse housed the most extensive archive collection of historic outlaw biker and street gang memorabilia. That warehouse was home to the Outlaw Archive, maintained by Bo Bushnell with the help of attorney Paul Zuckerman.
The archived textiles (including patches, vests/cuts, flags, and patterns), photo albums, film, and other items are stored behind a large bank vault. Surrounding the vault sat several classic lowrider cars, Porsches, and several motorcycles, many having belonged to prominent members of various clubs.
None of the collection was taken, with the vault being skipped over entirely as they were looking for cannabis and attempted to kick down a bathroom door looking for it. On the surveillance camera footage, most of the gang members are wearing masks and hoodies, brandishing pistols, and yellow crowbars, and in some cases, in other break-ins, have carried long guns.
But one of the potential thieves who entered the warehouse without a mask or gloves helped Bo and Outlaw Archive followers to identify the gang involved, including that alleged man, known as “Spazz.”
This led down the rabbit hole of other possible members involved in the break-in and/or selling stolen marijuana; their American muscle cars, SUVs, relatives, houses, and businesses including a record label. The gang tied to this and several other marijuana-related burglaries in the Los Angeles area is suspected to be the Hang Out Boys.
Hang Out Boys 13 Gang History
The Hang Out Boys, or HOB Gang, is primarily a Mexican-American gang, on the East Side of South Los Angeles, California. The HOB Gang is a Sureño gang allied with the Mexican Mafia/La eMe. Several rivalries have existed between nearby gangs such as Florencia 13 and the 38th Street Gang.
In 2011, Roy Galvan, a member of the 41st Street Gang was acquitted of the shooting killing of HOB member Joey Gutierrez. Roy then sued the city of Los Angeles and his two arresting officers.
The gang is based largely in the Newton area, within the jurisdiction of the Newton Community LAPD Police Station #13 (no relation). The Central Bureau station saw the SLA Army Shootout in 1974, Black Panther shootouts, and the LA riots in 1965, 1992, and 2020. Some of these events are proudly displayed on Newton’s four-leaf clover with 3 bullet holes logo).
Outlaw Biker Collection
While this may be the first break-in at the warehouse, it is not their first issue with those who live on the edges of society. Bo began the collection after years of collecting punk rock history and producing a documentary on its art.
During this time, street gang and motorcycle club photos were offered for sale, and eventually, seeing their value and significance, purchased them and the collection has grown from there.
In early 2014, when word got out that he had various Hells Angels patches, Bushnell says, he got a call from a man who identified himself only as Doug and told him he was messing with the wrong people and was going to get hurt. Bushnell figured out Doug was a Hells Angel who went by “Dougie Poo”, so he called the biker back and convinced him to meet.
Through Dougie Poo, a one-time HA President of the founding Berdoo Chapter in the 1960s, he began to meet other bikers as well, including Buzzard, Raunchy Pat, the Judge (an outlaw biker felon turned California Judge), and Bill the Shark.
The men told him about the early days of motorcycle gangs. Back then, Bo says, “It wasn’t about being a steroided-out monster looking for a fight.” They saw themselves as “a bunch of 20-somethings who wanted to ride, get loaded and live like 12-year-olds, forever.”
Outlaw Archive, or the RICO project as it is called, has published several limited-run books with some of the photos and files in the collection. Including collaborating with Dougie Poo and former Hells Angel and Merry Prankster, and Grateful Dead graphic artist “Gut” Terk. The collection ranges from early like the Straight Satans based in Venice, to early Hells Angels patches, cuts, and memorabilia as well as more recent items, and the rights to films and books. The existing clubs claim any item that belonged to a club member or has their logo as property of the club.
So there have been death threats regarding his possession of the club artifacts. (The Hells Angels have sued multiple clothing companies, Toys R Us, and even Disney for using their trademarked Death Head insignia or name without permission).
Word reached the Hells Angels organization that Bushnell was intending to publish a book “Halfway to Berdoo” in 2015. Two members who had told Bushnell their stories were called into a meeting, Bushnell said and told that if the book was published and contained details they’d provided, the members and their families would be killed. Bushnell received the same message.
According to former Hells Angels attorney Fritz Clapp, who for 30 years represented the club in trademark cases and became an early Bushnell supporter, the threats were real and credible.
“He had death threats, actual death threats,” Clapp said. “He was afraid for his life.”
As an insurance policy, Bushnell posted proof of the threats on his Instagram page. Former club attorney Clapp contacted an Angels representative and tried to talk the club down, Clapp said. He put Bushnell in touch with the club’s criminal attorney.
After Bushnell published, and the Angels were sent a copy, the furor died down. Since that time, the threats seem to have come in waves towards the archive from current Hells Angels members and other supporters, as well as keyboard warriors/Instagram gangsters. But praise from former members, like former Ventura President George Christie, Sr., viewed as the second most powerful Hells Angel for many years behind Oakland Chapter founder Ralph “Sonny” Bargar, has appreciated the historical significance and care of the outlaw artifacts. Bargar, when asked, said he had nothing to comment on it.
Trolling the Hang Out Boys Online
Outlaw Archive, in addition to trolling those HOB and affiliated gang members responsible for breaking into their warehouse, has been providing video footage from similar break-ins. Even some that have occurred since the exposing of the gang and their methods on the @outlawarchive Instagram account.
Several of the videos shared include similar perpetrators, tattoos, vehicles, tools, and methods. The surveillance videos, usually timecoded early in the morning, show the same MO of backing up a large SUV (likely stolen) into warehouse roll-up doors. The armed men stand guard in the street until the security gates have been breached. During one such incident, the men threatened and pistol-whipped an innocent bystander (possibly a security guard) who was already there when they began their burglary.
Then, the nearly dozen guys flood into the warehouses, seemingly with no planning or coordination with what they are looking for, as evidenced by their break-in of the Outlaw Archive “RICO” collection. There, looking for marijuana, they skipped over millions of dollars worth of cars, motorcycles, cameras, and a bank vault housing the largest archive of outlaw biker memorabilia.
Oddly enough, Bo also is an avid collector of LA street gang history as well including historic photos of Crips and Bloods members and has several police and prison files on the Mexican Mafia.
This armed smash-and-grab seems to be the standard MO for the Hang Out Boys rip crew. But they are not the only ones breaking into dispensaries, distribution centers, and grow spots. In recent years, the number of break-ins, at retail dispensaries especially has also increased.
Increase in Cannabis Targeted Burglaries & Robberies
According to state data obtained by MJBizDaily, reported break-ins and burglaries at California cannabis businesses more than doubled from 2021 to 2022. In 2022, licensed businesses in California reported 329 break-ins or burglaries with losses, according to California Department of Cannabis Control figures. That’s more than double the 147 burglaries reported in 2021. The worst hit was Los Angeles County with 111 reported incidents, a third of all reported cannabis burglaries in California.
This year, according to multiple interviews, the crimes have become more sophisticated, with break-in crews armed with sophisticated tools and appearing at distribution warehouses that don’t have a publicly listed address.
That’s led business owners to suspect an “inside job”: someone currently or formerly employed in the industry, who would know where to go and what to look for, and whose identity would be in the state-mandated database of qualified cannabis employees.
But since the break-ins have continued and law enforcement has made few arrests, frustrated and exhausted business owners say they’ve been forced to take matters into their own hands offering rewards and conducting their own investigations.
Following a 12-man break-in at Urbn Leaf dispensary on Sunset Blvd., in Hollywood, Ed Schmults, CEO of Urbn Leaf said in a statement. “Due to the product we carry we are more vulnerable to break-ins than traditional retailers, and as the state continues to raise taxes on cannabis businesses our ability to protect ourselves is marginalized. As tax-paying businesses, cannabis dispensaries deserve the same protection from authorities granted to traditional storefronts.” The value of the cannabis is around $11,000, KCAL reported, citing comments from a security guard.
In the Bay Area, at a Stiiizy location, armed assailants kidnapped an employee and drove him across the Bay Bridge to Oakland and back before forcing him to open up locked areas.
Near Sacramento, the dispensary and distribution center, Delta Boyz, has turned to hiring security guards armed with AR-15 rifles, at the suggestion of law enforcement. The monthly tab is $20,000 per month, which “eats away at our margins,” owner Sebastian Maldonado said. And Maldonado is well aware of the risk of a shootout, which could lead to him losing his business licenses. “It’s just an absolute nightmare,” he said.
Even with well-armed guards, the break-ins have continued. After he lost $250,000 during a late-January heist, carloads of burglars showed up four times in March, Maldonado said. Sacramento County sheriff’s deputies made an arrest, and that was only after Maldonado’s company took matters into its own hands.
After a March 5 break-in, Maldonado said, “we followed one of the cars full of our weed” all the way from Isleton to the Sacramento city limits, about a 45-minute drive on twisty country roads and Interstate 5, he said. Waiting Sheriff’s deputies intercepted the alleged burglars at a highway off-ramp and arrested them, but even then, Maldonado didn’t recover any losses. The stolen product is sitting in a Sheriff’s Department evidence locker, getting stale. He said they have had over $1 million in losses in the last three years due to break-in thefts.
LA Sheriff Deputy Led Armed Robbery in 2018
And in Los Angeles County, a now-former LA Sherrif Deputy was convicted of leading a $2 million armed robbery of a marijuana distribution warehouse. He was sentenced to 84 months in federal prison for orchestrating the armed robbery, staged as a legitimate law enforcement search, at a downtown Los Angeles warehouse where more than half a ton of marijuana and over $600,000 in cash was stolen.
During the early morning hours of October 29, 2018, Sheriff Deputy Marc Antrim and his co-conspirators dressed as armed LASD deputies approached the warehouse in an LASD Ford Explorer. Upon arrival, Antrim flashed his LASD badge and a fake search warrant to the security guards to gain entry to the warehouse.
Antrim, an off-duty patrol deputy based out of Temple City, and two fake deputies sported LASD clothing, wore duty belts, and carried firearms. One fake deputy also visibly carried a long gun. At the beginning of the two-hour robbery, Antrim and his co-conspirators detained the three warehouse security guards in the back cage of the LASD Ford Explorer.
Soon after the guards were detained, a fourth man arrived at the warehouse in a large rental truck, and all four men began loading marijuana into the truck. When Los Angeles Police Department officers legitimately responded to a call for service at the warehouse during the robbery, Antrim falsely told the LAPD officers that he was an LASD narcotics deputy conducting a legitimate search. After LAPD officers left the warehouse, other co-conspirators arrived and the robbery continued, allowing the fake law enforcement crew to steal even more marijuana and two large safes containing over half a million dollars in cash.