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Entire Central California Hells Angels chapter arrested in kidnapping, robbery case

Guns are laid out on a table in front of a Hells Angels motorcycle jacket.
Six members of the Hells Angels were arrested in Kern County on Tuesday on suspicion of kidnapping, robbery, making criminal threats and other charges.
(Kern County Sheriff’s Office)
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Federal agents arrested six members of the Hells Angels motorcycle club on suspicion of kidnapping, first-degree robbery, making criminal threats and other charges in an early-morning raid in Kern County on Tuesday.

The arrests account for the entire Bakersfield chapter of the Hells Angels, including its president and vice president, according to authorities.

The six men arrested — all residents of Bakersfield — are also accused of false imprisonment, assault with a firearm, participating in a criminal street gang, criminal conspiracy, intimidating a witness or victim and elder abuse, according to authorities. Authorities also seized about 25 guns, ammunition, high-capacity magazines and paraphernalia for the motorcycle gang.

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The arrests are part of an ongoing investigation, authorities announced in a statement, and were part of a joint operation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Kern County Sheriff’s Office and the California Highway Patrol.

In the June 6 assault in Ocean Beach, three men, ages 19, 20 and 21, were chased by members of the Hells Angels gang. Two were severely beaten.

Sept. 26, 2023

Ricardo Alvarez, 42; Armando Villasenor, 55; Joseph Soto Sr., 57; Joseph Soto Jr., 33; Joshua Zavala, 31, and John Seeger, 57, were arrested as part of the operation. A seventh suspect, 37-year-old Joshua Vaughn, was already in custody on a separate matter, authorities said.

Alvarez, Villasenor, Soto Sr., Zavala and Soto Jr. are all active members of the Bakersfield chapter of the Hells Angels, authorities said. Vaughn and Seeger are members of an affiliate, the Sons of Hell Motorcycle Club, which takes its orders from the Hells Angels, according to authorities.

The men arrested on Tuesday were booked into a Kern County jail, and the case was referred to the Kern County district attorney’s office. An ATF spokesperson declined to provide any additional information because of the active investigation.

A gang initiation murder at a Fresno clubhouse. Drug heists.

Nov. 20, 2017

A California judge earlier this month sentenced three Hells Angels members to life in prison for murder in aid of racketeering. Jonathan Nelson, Brian Wayne Wendt and Russell Taylor Ott were convicted in June 2022 for their roles in the murder of Hells Angels member Joel Silva in July 2014, according to court records.

Nelson, 46; and Ott, 70, were members of the Sonoma County chapter of the Hells Angels, and Wendt, 45, was president of the Fresno chapter, federal prosecutors said in a statement.

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Nelson, authorities say, arranged for Ott to take Silva to the Hells Angels clubhouse in Fresno. When the men arrived, Wendt shot Silva in the back of the head.

Authorities in Modesto arrested four men and seized drugs, a stockpile of firearms and ammunition and material to make bombs as part of a months-long investigation into outlaw motorcycle clubs in the region.

March 6, 2024

Authorities in Stanislaus County also arrested four men in February and seized drugs, a stockpile of firearms and ammunition as well as potential bomb material as part of an investigation into outlaw motorcycle clubs in the region.

That investigation began last year after acts of violence stemming from a dispute between rival Hells Angels, Salida Nomads and Mongol members, according to the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department.

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