He got tattoos. He shaved his head. He wore leather. He drove a Harley.
Jay Dobyns, an undercover law enforcement agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) within the Department of Justice (DOJ), infiltrated one of America’s most notorious criminal enterprises – the Hells Angels. From prostitution to arms trafficking to murder and most everything in between, this gang is known especially for its brutality, as well its penchant for retribution.
During the two harrowing years he spent among their ranks in Arizona, Dobyns moved deeper and deeper into the Hell Angels system, even posing as a gun-runner and staging the mock execution of a member of their rival gang, the Mongols Motorcycle Club. His 2002 to 2004 permeation of this organization, known as “Operation Black Biscuit,” led to the successful indictment of 16 gang members responsible for crimes ranging from racketeering to murder.
Such heroism did not come without a price. During the prosecution of these criminals, Dobyns’ true identity was revealed, and the Hells Angels decided to exact their revenge. One evening, while his wife and kids were asleep, unidentified arsonists burned his house to the ground. The group, along with other organized crime rings like the Aryan Brotherhood and Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), also frequently threatened the Dobyns family, promising to infect the former agent with the HIV virus, to videotape the gang rape of his wife and daughter and to torture his family for their rest of their days. The gangs also swore that all of this torment would be a mere prelude to their inevitable murders.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms – one of the most dysfunctional agencies in the federal government — totally neglected the Dobyns family and mismanaged their reintegration into society. First, they transferred the officer to different ATF offices across the U.S., forcing them to continually uproot their lives and relocate. In 2006, they abruptly ended the Dobyns family’s “backstopping” – the false narrative created around an individual intended to protect him and his family – including false names, fake license plates, cover stories and the like.
The Dobyns family felt totally exposed and subsequently abandoned. The very government Jay Dobyns risked his life to serve failed to protect him and his family upon completion of his valiant work. To make matters worse, ATF even insinuated that Dobyns himself was responsible for the fire that destroyed his home and threatened the lives of his wife and children.
Outraged by his treatment at the hands of the U.S. federal government, Jay Dobyns took on a new role — this time, as a whistleblower. He courageously detailed how the Department of Justice failed to protect undercover agents. The U.S. Office of Special Counsel and the Office of the Inspector General agreed, saying: “ATF needlessly and inappropriately delayed its response to, and investigation of, threats against its own agents.” Despite these findings, the Obama administration refused to order new protections for the Dobyns family.
In 2007, a federal judge awarded Dobyns $373,000 for the trauma inflicted upon his family due to the negligence of the government. During the years that followed, Eric Holder’s Department of Justice continually attacked Dobyns, tarnishing his reputation and calling into question his credibility. Dobyns fought back by filing an additional lawsuit against them, claiming that the agency committed a “breach of good faith” by continuing to smear him. Last week, after six years of pricey legal battles, Judge Francis Allegra ruled in favor of Jay Dobyns, awarding him an additional $173,000 in reparations.
While this might be welcome news for Jay Dobyns and his family as they attempt to piece their lives back together, this is the same, sad situation for countless other law enforcement officers serving our country. Unfortunately, the Department of Justice, especially under Attorney General Eric Holder’s leadership, too busy protecting the rights of gay couples and other Obama constituencies, has all too often failed or neglected to provide adequate protection or support for those who put their lives on the line in defense of our communities and our country.
Instead, the agency spends its time politicizing our law enforcement and justice system– including conducting twice as many investigations of police officers and police departments than any previous attorney general, usually for trivial matters that have nothing to do with public safety. In doing so, they are creating real barriers between those who protect us and the communities they are meant to serve.
The Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund is proud to have contributed to Jay Dobyns’ defense, and we will continue to stand alongside those officers who risk everything for our country. We will not rest until they are granted the justice they deserve. We wish the Eric Holder and other officials in the Obama administration would do the same.
Alfred S. Regnery is the chairman of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund. He is the former publisher of The American Spectator, as well as the former president of Regnery Publishing, Inc. and a Reagan administration appointee in the Department of Justice. Regnery is also a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard.