Charles Falco has helped bring some of America’s most violent and feared gangs to justice. After his successful infiltration of the Vagos biker gang, Charles Falco once again goes undercover in another notorious motorcycle club for the new series of Gangland Undercover.
Here are 10 fast facts about the man himself.
1. He was a large scale meth dealer
In 2001, Falco was reportedly earning $500,000 a year manufacturing and dealing hundreds of pounds of methamphetamine. He worked for some very powerful Eastern European mobsters but eventually hit rock bottom after getting addicted to the drugs he was dealing. Eventually the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) raided his Southern California home and gave him a choice; face 22 years in prison without parole or become an undercover informant. He chose the latter.
2. He had no experience of biker gangs
After a few years working small drug cases for the DEA as an informant, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) asked him to infiltrate the Vagos Motorcycle Club, a biker gang considered to be the "largest urban terrorist" organisation in the U.S. at the time. Without any prior knowledge of biker gangs and no experience of riding a Harley-Davidson, ‘Operation 22 Green’ required Falco to infiltrate the ranks of the Vagos and gather incriminating evidence.
3. Only three men have done what he did
He is one of only three men in the world who have successfully infiltrated three of the world’s largest and deadliest biker gangs. He is also the only private contractor in the world to have accomplished this feat after spending a total of seven years undercover. He worked his way up to ‘Officer’ (second in charge) of the Victorville, California Chapter of the Vagos and rose to the rank of ‘Vice President’ of the Petersburg, Virginia Chapter of the Outlaws.
4. His nickname was ‘Quickdraw’
Whilst undercover with the Vagos, Falco earned the nickname ‘Quickdraw’ for his ability to throw a fast punch. Fighting would become his area of expertise.
5. He endured solitary confinement for a week
Falco was arrested after being caught up in a bar fight when Vagos gang members beat up some college students. Not wanting to blow his cover, he chose not to tell the arresting officers he was undercover.
He went to San Bernardino’s Murder Unit for two months, with six of those days spent in solitary confinement.
6. He wore a wire in his pants
With wire searches commonplace in suspicious gangs, Falco often hid his audio recording device in his underwear. The tactic worked and he was able to gather years of evidence without his cover ever being blown.
7. His information led to 62 arrests
After three years undercover with the Vagos, he had gathered enough information for the ATF to make 62 arrests for crimes including assault and murder.
8. He wrote a book about his experiences
Released in 2013, Vagos, Mongols, and Outlaws: My Infiltration of America’s Deadliest Biker Gangs documents his time within the three notorious biker gangs, recounting vivid tales of violence, carnage and drugs.
9. He is one of the foremost biker gang experts in the US
Falco has a graduate degree in criminal justice and currently works as a lead instructor for a national law enforcement training institute. He has also guest-lectured about gangs in the US at the University of California, Los Angeles. He hopes now that he has redeemed himself for his previous sins and, “done more positive work for society than damage.”
10. Falco is now in the Witness Protection Program
Although Falco came out of the Witness Protection Program after the Vagos operation because he felt a strong sense of duty to go back undercover, he is now one again back in the program under a different name. In a telephone interview printed online he admits, “I continue to look over my shoulder and still catch myself looking under my car for bombs.”