Jay Dobyns is the author of one of my favorite cop books: “No Angel: My Harrowing Undercover Journey to the Inner Circle of the Hells Angels.” He didn’t just write the book, he lived the story.
Jay was the primary undercover agent for the ATF during Operation Black Bisquit. Many of us remember the 2002 shotout between the Hells Angels and Mongols OMG clubs in Laughlin, Nevada. Such a brazen gun fight, in the middle of a crowded casino, caught the attention of federal law enforcement and they launched a nearly two-year operation, with Dobyns posing as a gun-runner for a puppet club. To get in good with the HA leadership, he faked the killing of a Mongol’s member, and he earned his patch.
The story is nuts, so if you haven’t already, you just need to read the book.
Jay Dobyns is a cop’s cop. Long before patching in to the Hell’s Angels, Jay was shot and taken hostage 4 days into his career at the ATF. 18 months later, he was shot again and nearly died. He completed over 500 undercover operations in his 20 year career. He’s received the US Attorney General’s Medal of Valor, 12 ATF Special Act Awards, 2 ATF Gold Stars, the ATF Distinguished Service Medal, the International Narcotics Officers Association Medal of Valor, the National Association of Police Officers “Top Cop” Award and several others. And he’s a New York Times best-selling author. He’s been featured on TV shows like Gangland, Outlaw Chronicles, America’s Most Wanted and many others. He’s regularly seen on CNN, Fox News, and has features in national publications.
After all he’d done for the ATF, you’d expect he’d be rewarded for his work.
Not so much.
Because of his involvement in taking down the HA leadership, he received death threats against him and his family, and promises that his wife would be gang-raped. That seemed almost normal compared to the night Jay was working and his house was firebombed and his wife and kids barely escaped with their lives.
And then things got really bizarre.
The ATF, the agency that Jay had literally bled for, turned their back and tried to frame him for the arson. Coupled with the ATF leadership’s refusal to give him a protection detail, they began making claims about at that weren’t true. Jay eventually proved that in federal court.
Jay’s supervisors during this time? The same guys that authorized and oversaw the disasterous Fast & Furious program that sent hundreds of guns into the hands of Mexican cartels – at least one of which was later used to kill an American law enforcement officer.
Jay’s new book, “Catching Hell” tells this insane story of the aftermath of his work undercover.
What’s striking about Jay is that after everything he’s gone through, he’s understandably angry, but he’s not bitter. He still loves police work and the work we do, and he’s got a great perspective on our place in the world.