Editor note: Law Enforcement Today is committed to telling the untold stories of patriotic Americans like this. For countless exclusive interviews, check out LET Unity. All proceeds get reinvested into telling stories like Jay’s.
Being a law enforcement officer is challenging- sometimes very challenging. And once in a rare while, as challenging as you could ever imagine. But Jay Dobyns’ story is anything but imagination. It is one of true, extraordinary heroism and off-the-charts dedication to duty.
Jay Dobyns, retired ATF agent, is most known for his undercover (UC) work in Arizona infiltrating an ominous group of outlaw motorcycle thugs known as the Hells Angels.
In April 2002, an infamous deadly brawl broke out in a civilian packed Nevada casino between two warring motorcycle clubs- the Mongols and the Hells Angels. This prompted federal law enforcement officials to open and investigate this threat to society.
And they knew just who to go to- Jay Dobyns.
By this time, Jay has already been with the ATF for well over a decade and has been on countless undercover operations. Being intelligent, quick-witted, and dedicated to law enforcement, he was the perfect fit for this daunting task deemed Operation Black Biscuit.
LET had the opportunity to sit down with Jay to discuss his path to law enforcement notoriety starting with his near-death experience, the impact of UC work on his personal life and how he became so successful at his job.
It’s all retold in his New York Times bestseller No Angel: My Harrowing Undercover Journey to the Inner Circle of the Hells Angels.
His career started with an incident that would have ended most officer’s careers. On his fourth day on the job, Jay sat in a car with a suspect who was pointing a gun at him.
Jay tells LET:
“I was taken hostage and shot in the back. The bullet went through my lung and exited my chest. I was dying.”
Jay recalls weighing his options during that critical moment, none of which were very good. So, he chose to drop his keys and lean down to give his partners a chance to eliminate the deadly threat.
“I was scared. I decided that if I were to die, it would be while my partners had an opportunity to help me or gain retribution. My first thought was to floor it and ram us into a telephone pole. That plan would likely leave me shot, and crushed, so I decided on a simpler plan and rolled the dice.”
That was just the beginning of his career.
As he made his way through Operation Black Biscuit infiltrating the Hells Angels, he started earning the trust of several high-ranking members, even befriending them. But he always knew where to draw the line.
“While UC I developed close, personal relationships. There is no doubt in my mind that while in a role, some of the suspects I had befriended would have stepped in front of a bullet for Jaybird. But I never lost sight of whose team I was on!”
Do you want to join our private family of first responders and supporters? Get unprecedented access to some of the most powerful stories that the media refuses to show you. Proceeds get reinvested into having active, retired and wounded officers, their families and supporters tell more of these stories. Click to check it out.
If Jay was to be successful in infiltrating this dangerous gang, the UC life would have to take priority. His character, Jaybird, had to come first- even ahead of his own family. However, that came with a heavy personal price tag.
Jay tells LET:
“This is my biggest regret in life. My UC role became more than what I did, it became who I was. That is very dangerous. I am humiliated to now have to admit that I abandoned and betrayed my own wife and kids in exchange for some false, hero-worship legacy that never came true.”
“On one occasion I came home, and my wife Gwen told me ‘You can’t just show up at this house and speak to me and the kids like we are your people on the street.’ That was the harsh truth of how I was treating my family.”
As the operation kept moving along, evidence kept piling up. One could argue that his success throughout the mission may have led to a sense of over confidence- even cockiness.
Jay tells LET about another experience he is glad to be alive to tell:
“I was in a bar trolling the Sons of Silence (SOS) biker gang in Colorado with an amazing team of UC agents. Our goal was to create a confrontation, be ordered to remove our fabricated gang clothing, and leave town. The SOS found us in their bar! The critical threat was delivered and recorded, and the case was made.”
That is when Jay and his team were expected to leave:
“I overstepped. They outnumbered us 5 to 1. The right move was to follow their orders. But no, I started a massive bar brawl that resulted in us being locked inside and having the dogshit beat out of us with pool cues and brass knuckles until they became bored with kicking our asses.”
After a two year span of infiltrating the Hells Angels, the case was closed and countless suspects ended up in jail, completely dismantling the organization from within.
He is now living the retired life and doing what he loves- coaching the Tanque Verde High School football team in Tucson, Arizona.
Jay also mentioned the current struggles facing law enforcement today and offered an inspiring message to the LEO community.
“We are the underappreciated, who go underpaid to do the unthinkable for the often ungrateful. They report to duty knowing that they will be hated, despised, ridiculed, filmed, taunted, spit on, assaulted, sometimes murdered… and THEY STILL GO!”
Remember that next time you don the uniform, because you are the difference between order and chaos. Stay strong and watch out for each other!
For more information about Jay Dobyns go to his website www.jaydobyns.com
About the writer: Eddie Molina is the author of A Beginner’s Guide to Leadership available on his website and Amazon. He also conducts interviews and writes articles to keep the law enforcement, first responder and military community informed on important issues. Go to www.eddiemolina.com for more information.
Want to make sure you never miss a story from Law Enforcement Today? With so much “stuff” happening in the world on social media, it’s easy for things to get lost.