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Public Enemy No. 1 or PEN1 is a white supremacist gang based in Southern California whose members have been convicted of crimes including illegal production of methamphetamines, firearms trafficking, identity theft, murder, and dog fighting.
The gang started as "Peni Death Squad (PDS),a punk gang in the 1980s, the name being derived from the anarcho-punk/deathrock band, 'Rudimentary Peni'. Originally, PDS held no white supremacist views, and were mainly a loose-knit group of runaways and homeless kids. This name would later be hijacked from members that ended up in prison, and possibly needed some kind of affiliation to a gang. Other punk gangs, including sgv Unity LA,BAY,SGV,IE chapters,La Mirada punks,Vicious Circle, L.A. Death Squad (LADS), and Bakersfield Zero-Core, were other examples of Southern California punk gangs. These groups were typically misfit counter-culture teenagers deemed not part of mainstream society.
The formation of the group was greatly influenced possibly by some former members turned white power skinhead scene in Long Beach, California during the 1980s. However, by the 1990s, PEN1’s base of operations had been relocated to Orange County where they began recruiting suburban adolescents. By the 2000s, the gang’s influence has spread throughout California and Arizona, with some members in Idaho and Nevada. Their allies are the Aryan Brotherhood, Nazi Lowriders, and Armenian Power. However in 2008, Armenian Power severed ties with PEN1 after racial rivalries. Their main rivals are the Bloods, the Crips, the Norteños, Nuestra Familia, Black Guerilla Family.
PEN1 seems to specialize in identity theft, not a crime usually associated with gangs, although most of the income from this is allegedly used to finance methamphetamine operations. Originally their methods were raiding mailboxes and trash cans for personal information, but the gang later used contacts inside of banks, mortgage companies and state motor vehicle departments in order to gain access to credit profiles. This has led to law enforcement officials requesting that their personal information be removed so that it can't be used by gang members to identify home addresses of police officers.
Well-known criminal cases
On February 3, 1996 Erik Anderson and Michael Steven Eckert were involved in the near-fatal stabbing of Native American George Mondragon in Huntington Beach, CA. Mondragon was approached and according to trial statements asked if he believed in white power. He was then stabbed approximately 27 times. Erik Anderson and Michael Eckert were both convicted of the attempted murder and hate crime. Anderson received a life sentence and Eckert was sentenced to 9 years in state prison. Anderson was found guilty of the additional charge of conspiracy and Eckert was not. Both of these men have ties to PEN1, IWB and other White Power skinhead groups.
Hostility towards law enforcement
In 2007, police forces in Orange County arrested 67 alleged PEN1 members after learning of an extensive "hit list" that included five police officers and a gang prosecutor. Those arrested in the raid were charged with conspiracy to commit murder, possession of illegal weapons and identity theft.
- Aryan Brotherhood
- Nazi Lowriders
- Neo-Nazi groups of the United States
- Street gang
- White power
- White power skinhead
- White supremacy
- Ku Klux Klan
- White Power With a Lisp - from OC Weekly
- White Supremacist Gang Gains Clout - from CBS News
- Anti-Defamation League - Public Enemy No.1
- California Department of Justice - Organized Crime in California 2004 Annual Report