by Sam Bagnall
Producer, This World: Hells Angels
An undercover agent who infiltrated a US Hells Angels chapter for 18 months - leading to the conviction of 16 members and associates - talks to BBC producer Sam Bagnall about living with the enemy.
Greg Domey, leader of the Salem Hells Angels Chapter
The Hells Angels organisation is notoriously difficult to infiltrate.
But in 1995 an informant agreed to help the authorities trap Greg Domey, the president of the Hells Angels Salem Chapter in Massachusetts.
Domey was a very important target for the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The Salem Chapter was one of the biggest in the East Coast Angels, and was making a lot of money from crime.
But the DEA were worried that their informant might not go through the long and complex undercover operation and decided that agent Phil Muollo should also get close to the drug deals.
Mr Muollo managed to buy drugs straight from Domey's house, but they needed more evidence.
"The informant said it's really tough to introduce anybody to this crowd. They don't want to meet anybody new, they have no reason to," said agent Muollo.
Turn for the worse
"We had previously seized a car from some Colombian drug dealers with a hidden compartment in the trunk. We figured I would drive that car and show them the compartment and that would legitimise me as a drug dealer. It would give the thing a little twist."
The operation took an unexpected turn for the worse when the informant, driving another car to a drug deal, had a seizure and crashed.
The modified car (centre) used to make drug deals
"We didn't know what had happened, maybe someone had shot the informant or whatever, so we were pretty nervous," recalled Mr Muollo.
But what seemed like a catastrophe turned out to be a stroke of luck, as it helped Mr Muollo make contact with a key associate of Domey's, John Bartolomeo.
"As the paramedics are taking care of the informant and the accident, Jonny Bart (Bartolomeo) turns up.
"We start talking about what happened and the accident. And that was how I really got introduced to him, he gets in the car and I show him the hidden compartment.
"It was kind of a good introduction because it was so strange and not something anybody could have planned."
Bartolomeo was a prospective member of the Hells Angels serving his probationary period, and had murdered a member of the rival Devils Disciples gang in an effort to prove himself worthy of becoming a full member.
Mr Muollo bought kilos and kilos of drugs from Domey, Bartolomeo and other Angels in the Salem Chapter - but the Angels were starting to suspect that there was an informant, and agent Muollo was getting more nervous every day.
But, by this time, the DEA had enough evidence to act.
On 5 September, 1996, hundreds of police officers raided 15 addresses across Massachusetts.
The Angels were stunned that Phil Muollo had turned out to be an undercover agent.
Domey was "an intimidating guy"
"I went to the house of one of the guys when he was arrested to talk to him and he looked at me like his dog died. He says: 'How can you do this? We are buddies, how do live with yourself?'," said Mr Muollo.
"It had been a year and a half and we spent a lot of time together and we all got along. They treated me as a customer but they also treated me like a friend.
"Domey is a real intimidating guy. You know his background, you know their history of violence, so you are kind of on edge when you meet these people.
"Bart (Bartolomeo) would tell me about some of the beatings he had done. He told me that he carried a gun and that if he saw a rival gang member he was going to shoot them.
"They are different to other criminals in that they have this attitude that they are above the law and that they are untouchable.
"They think they can get away with anything and they think that violence will get them out of any problem they have.
"After the arrests one of them told me that if they had found out what was going on my life would not have been worth a nickel.
"I spent 18 months looking over my shoulder. Sometimes I would ask myself: 'Why does he want to meet me on my own?'
"You never really get used to it, I was on edge most of the time. And when it was over it was a big relief."
In all, 16 Angels and their associates were jailed in 1997.
Domey got 20 years for his role in the conspiracy and Bartolomeo got 35 years after admitting to killing the Devils Disciple member.
Phil Muollo is still a DEA agent working on undercover cases.
Some people's names have been changed in this article.
This World: Hells Angels was broadcast in the UK on BBC Two on Sunday, 4 January, 2004 at 2100 GMT.