Jay Dobyns

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Jay Anthony "Jaybird" Dobyns
Jay Dobyns profile.jpg
Jay Dobyns
Born (1961-07-24) July 24, 1961 (age 52)
Hammond, Indiana USA
Nationality American
Alma mater University of Arizona,
B.S., Public Administration (1985)
Occupation Special Agent, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, NYT Best Selling Author, Speaker.
Notable work(s) "No Angel: My Harrowing Undercover Journey to the Inner Circle of the Hells Angels" (Random House, ISBN 978-0307405869)

Jay Anthony "Jaybird" Dobyns (born 1961), is a Special Agent and veteran undercover operative with the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), New York Times Best-Selling author, and public speaker.[1]

Early life[edit]

Dobyns was born in Hammond, Indiana in 1961, but was raised in Tucson, Arizona. He was a standout athlete in several sports at Sahuaro High School before attending the University of Arizona to play football. He became an All-Pacific-10 conference wide receiver, College Football All-American Candidate Wide Receiver and was named to Arizona Wildcats “All-Century” football team. In 2012, Dobyns was named the "#1 Badass Arizona football player in history" by the Tucson Citizen newspaper. Dobyns graduated in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration. After college, he played briefly in the Canadian Football League (1985) and United States Football League (1986) before deciding to become a federal law enforcement agent.[2]

Federal law enforcement career[edit]

Dobyns became a Special Agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) in 1987. Upon graduating from the Bureau’s National Academy and less than a week after beginning operational duty, he was taken hostage at gunpoint in the Tucson desert while serving an arrest warrant on a convicted felon who was recently released from prison. The suspect forced Dobyns into the driver seat of the officers’ undercover car, which was immediately surrounded by the other agents with guns drawn. During a brief standoff, the agitated gunman repeatedly screamed at Dobyns to drive away. When Dobyns intentionally pulled the car keys from the ignition and dropped them to the floor, the assailant fired a single .38 caliber pistol bullet into Dobyns’ lung, which exited his upper chest. The other ATF agents instantly opened fire from both sides of the car, killing the gunman. Critically wounded, Dobyns was rushed to a Tucson hospital, where Dr. Richard Carmona, who later became the 17th United States Surgeon General, performed emergency trauma surgery that saved Dobyns’ life.[3][4][5]

Despite the severity of his wounds, Dobyns refused disability retirement and returned to duty within months of the shooting. For the next two decades, he conducted over 500 undercover operations, developing expertise in violent crime investigations, weapons and narcotics trafficking, gang infiltrations, home invasion robbery and murder-for-hire cases. He also served as an instructor at ATF’s National Academy and member of the Bureau’s Enhanced Undercover Program. He was repeatedly detailed to high-profile criminal and terrorism events including the "Rodney King" riots in Los Angeles, California, the Branch Davidian standoff in Waco, Texas, the Columbine High School massacre in Littleton, Colorado, and the Murrah Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.[6]

Decorations and awards[edit]

Dobyns has received twelve ATF Special Act Awards, two ATF Gold Stars for critical injuries received during investigative operations, an ATF Distinguished Service Medal for outstanding investigative accomplishment, the ATF Academy's Eddie Benetez award honoring exceptional physical fitness, the International Narcotics Officers Association Medal of Valor, the National Association of Police Officers “Top Cop” Award, the International Outlaw Motorcycle Gang Investigators Association Undercover Achievement Award, the United States Attorney's Medal of Valor award, and the Australian Law Enforcement Practitioners Significant Infiltration Award.[7]

Hells Angels infiltration: "Operation Black Biscuit"[edit]

In April 2002, a deadly altercation broke out between the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club and their arch-rivals, the Mongols Motorcycle Club in the middle of a Laughlin, Nevada casino filled with innocent bystanders, prompting federal law enforcement to open an undercover investigation called "Operation Black Biscuit", which included Dobyns.[8]

Over nearly two years of undercover operations, Dobyns and a team of ATF agents, technicians and confidential informants infiltrated the Hells Angels, primarily in Arizona. Dobyns posed as a gunrunner and member of a "solo" outlaw motorcycle club interested in joining the Angels. To earn his "patch" (full membership into the gang) and further establish his credibility as a potential member ("Prospect") with the club’s leadership, Dobyns staged the fake "murder" of a member of the rival Mongols Motorcycle Club. A law enforcement officer posing as the Mongols biker was splattered with cow blood and brains, photographed and videotaped lying in a shallow grave. Dobyns had a bloodstained Mongols’ "cut" (leather biker vest with club patches) mailed to the Hells Angels from somewhere in Mexico, and provided a videotape and pictures of the "killing". According to Dobyns and ATF, the Hells Angels leadership was highly impressed and immediately voted Dobyns in as a full "patched" member of the club. Although awarded his Hells Angels vest by the leadership of the Skull Valley charter, the club, including its legendary founder, Ralph "Sonny" Barger, have vehemently denied that Dobyns was ever "patched-in"[9][10]

Although the "Black Biscuit" investigation was deemed "successful" by ATF and yielded numerous criminal indictments for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) violations and other felony charges, internal government disagreement ultimately led to some of the primary defendants receiving reduced sentences or having their charges dismissed.[11]

Death and violence threats and allegations of ATF mismanagement[edit]

In 2004, following the exposure of his true identity during the "Black Biscuit" prosecutions, Dobyns and his family became the targets of death threats by various organizations, including the Hells Angels, Aryan Brotherhood and Mara Salvatrucha ("MS-13") gang members and associates. According to Dobyns and official investigative reports by government watchdog agencies, ATF management failed to take reasonable measures to protect Dobyns and his family from numerous validated threats, including gang plans to infect Dobyns with the HIV virus, videotape the gang rape of his wife and daughter, and otherwise torture and murder them all.[12][13][14]

ATF management responded primarily by transferring Dobyns to various ATF offices around the country several times. However, in 2006, ATF management suddenly withdrew the Dobyns family’s "backstopping" (cover stories, fake identities, untraceable drivers licenses, vehicle plates and other measures designed to make it difficult to discover a person’s true identity and living location). ATF claimed that the backstop measures were no longer justified, but Dobyns alleges that this was done purely as an act of illegal retaliation by his ATF bosses, with whom he had had a falling out over disagreements in the aftermath of the Hells Angels case. This action compromised Dobyns’ only remaining cover.[15][16]

In 2008, while Dobyns was away, his Tucson residence was the target of a late night arson attack while his wife and two children were asleep inside. They escaped with only smoke inhalation injuries, but the ensuing fire destroyed the home and most of the family’s belongings.[17]

The federal government’s failure to adequately deal with the extraordinary threats has been documented by several government watchdog agencies, and eventually led Dobyns to become a federal whistleblower. He has exposed the United States Department of Justice's mismanagement and failure to protect undercover agents. The Office of the Inspector General and the United States Office of Special Counsel concluded that, "ATF needlessly and inappropriately delayed its response to, and investigation of, threats against its own agent."[18] These findings were also reported to the office of Attorney General Eric Holder, other senior executives at the Department of Justice, and to the Obama Administration White House, but no additional action to protect the Dobyns family was ever ordered. The results of this conflict are yet to be determined, but are the subject of a landmark lawsuit (Jay Dobyns v. United States of America, Case Number 08-700C, U.S. Federal Court of Claims, Washington, D.C., presiding Judge, Hon. Francis M. Allegra).[19][20][21][22][23]

International notoriety[edit]

Dobyns has appeared on numerous prime time television programs, including The History Channel's Gangland; series,[24] America’s Most Wanted,[25] The National Geographic Channel,[26] Anderson Cooper 360 (CNN),[27] Fox News, The FOX Report with Sheppard Smith (FOX),[28] and many others, discussing the death threats he has received, the federal government’s failures related to those situations, and his status as a whistleblower. He has also been featured in Newsweek Magazine,[29] the Washington Post,[30] the Wall Street Journal,[31] and on National Public Radio.[32]

Dobyns has been featured in television documentaries produced by The History Channel, including "Gangland: Behind Enemy Lines" and National Geographic Channel’s "Inside: Outlaw Bikers - Hells Angels". Fox Television's " America's Most Wanted" also produced a segment entitled, "Operation Black Biscuit" detailing the work of Dobyns and his partners during the Hells Angels investigation.

Dobyns has been an outspoken critic of ATF's "Operation Fast and Furious", a government-sponsored gun trafficking operation that channeled thousands of military-grade weapons into the hands of Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTO's) and Mexican Drug Cartels[33][34][35] Several of the key ATF management officials identified by Congress and the Department of Justice Inspector General as being directly responsible for the flawed "gun-walking" operation were the very same managers who previously ignored murder and violent threats against Dobyns and his family.[36]

New York Times bestselling author[edit]

In February 2009, Dobyns became a New York Times bestselling author following the release of his book, "No Angel - My Harrowing Undercover Journey to the Inner Circle of the Hells Angels" (Random House ISBN 978-0-307-40585-2 (0-307-40585-0). The book chronicles the Hells Angels investigation and how it impacted his life and career. Dobyns' exploits as an undercover agent are also memorialized in the novels, "Angels of Death", by Julian Sher and William Marsden, and "Running with the Devil, by Kerrie Droban.

Current activities[edit]

Now approaching retirement from federal service, Dobyns owns and operates the Jay Dobyns Group, LLC., a privately held company offering public speaking presentations, proprietary law enforcement training, film and television consulting, and other services. He is reportedly writing his second book, and is involved with a number of charitable causes such as Heartbeat for Africa.


  1. ^ http://www.jaydobyns.com/index.html
  2. ^ http://www.jaydobyns.com/about_jay.html
  3. ^ http://www.jaydobyns.com/about_jay.html
  4. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_VpIsVnFfk
  5. ^ http://www.reviewjournal.com/lvrj_home/2002/Apr-28-Sun-2002/news/18627447.html
  6. ^ http://www.jaydobyns.com/about_jay.html
  7. ^ http://www.jaydobyns.com/about_jay.html
  8. ^ http://www.azcentral.com/specials/special42/articles/0123hellsangels23.html
  9. ^ http://www.azcentral.com/specials/special42/articles/0123hellsangels23.html
  10. ^ http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/galleries/episode-outlaw-bikers-hells-angels/at/3186_outlaw_bikers_hells_angels-2_04700300-8085/
  11. ^ http://www.azcentral.com/specials/special42/articles/0123hellsangels23.html
  12. ^ http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123611461950722501.html
  13. ^ http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2009/03/06/a-very-hellish-journey.html
  14. ^ http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/18/AR2009061804434.html
  15. ^ http://www.uscfc.uscourts.gov/jay-anthony-dobyns-v-united-states-08700c
  16. ^ http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/news/articles/20100211aft-agent-and-aft-in-legal-battle.html
  17. ^ http://townhall.com/columnists/katiepavlich/2011/10/21/atf_ignored_death_threats,_tried_to_frame_whistleblower_agent_to_cover_corruption/page/full/
  18. ^ http://www.osc.gov/FY2009/Scanned/09-17%20DI-07-0367/09-17%20DI-07-0367%20Agency%20Report.pdf
  19. ^ http://www.uscfc.uscourts.gov/jay-anthony-dobyns-v-united-states-08700c
  20. ^ http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/news/articles/20100211aft-agent-and-aft-in-legal-battle.html
  21. ^ http://www.courthousenews.com/2009/03/03/Hells_Angels_Infiltrator_Says_U_S_Failed_to_Protect_Him_From_Threats.htm
  22. ^ http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/2009/01/09/20090109atf0109.html
  23. ^ http://townhall.com/columnists/katiepavlich/2012/08/10/payback_holders_doj_refuses_to_close_whistleblowers_retaliation_case/page/full/
  24. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3brqJMm-32A
  25. ^ http://www.amw.com/features/feature_story_detail.cfm?id=158
  26. ^ http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/episodes/outlaw-bikers-hells-angels1/
  27. ^ http://www.cnn.com/2007/LAW/02/05/atf.agent/index.html?iref=allsearch
  28. ^ http://video.foxnews.com/v/1009937435001/fast-and-furious-failure/
  29. ^ http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2009/03/06/a-very-hellish-journey.html
  30. ^ http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/18/AR2009061804434.html
  31. ^ http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123611461950722501.html
  32. ^ http://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2009-06-08/jay-dobyns-no-angel-crown
  33. ^ http://oversight.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/10-29-12-Fast-and-Furious-The-Anatomy-of-a-Failed-Operation-Part-II-of-III-Report.pdf
  34. ^ http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/on-the-record/transcript/behind-failure-039operation-fast-and-furious039
  35. ^ http://www.kvoa.com/news/veteran-atf-agent-demanding-answers/
  36. ^ http://townhall.com/columnists/katiepavlich/2011/10/21/atf_ignored_death_threats,_tried_to_frame_whistleblower_agent_to_cover_corruption/page/full/


1. ^ "HHS - Vice Admiral Richard H. Carmona, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.S., Surgeon General". Hhs.gov. 2003-11-10. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
2. ^ a b "Biography & C.V". Jay Dobyns. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
3. ^ a b "Julian Sher.com". Julian Sher.com. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
4. ^ "CNN.com, Federal agent penetrated Hells Angels, fears for his life, February 6, 2007". Cnn.com. 2007-02-05. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
5. ^ Wagner, Dennis (2008-08-17). "Officials mum about fire at ATF Agent's home, August 17, 2008". Azcentral.com. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
6. ^ http://roadwaytocollege.com/go/page.pl/000000A/http/www.osc.gov/FY2009/Scanned/09-19=2520DI-07-0367/09-19=2520DI-07-0367=2520Ltr=2520to=2520President.pdf
7. ^ "FY 2009 Public File". Osc.gov. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
8. ^ "The FOX Report With Shepard Smith - Wednesday, Jul 01, 2009 - mReplay Livedash TV Transcript - Livedash - Search what is being mentioned across national TV". Livedash. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
9. ^ "Federal agent penetrated Hells Angels, fears for his life - CNN". Articles.cnn.com. 2007-02-05. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
10. ^ Eve Conant (2009-03-06). "A Very Hellish Journey - The Daily Beast". Newsweek.com. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
11. ^ "Still Catching Hell: Undercover No More, Jay Dobyns Revs Up for a New Fight". Washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
12. ^ Trachtenberg, Jeffrey A. (2009-03-04). "'No Angel' Author's Undercover Mission - WSJ.com". Online.wsj.com. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
13. ^ "Monday, June 8, 2009 | The Diane Rehm Show from WAMU and NPR". The Diane Rehm Show. 2009-06-08. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
14. ^ "Random House / Crown Publishing Group". Randomhouse.com. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
15. ^ "The New York Times Best Seller List, March 8, 2009" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-10-10.
16. ^ "Jay Dobyns Group, LLC". Jaydobyns.com. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
17. ^ "Running With the Devil". Kerrie Droban. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
18. ^ The History Club Membership. "Gangland Behind Enemy Lines DVD - History Store". Shop.history.com. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
19. ^ USA. "National Geographic Channel". Channel.nationalgeographic.com. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
20. ^ [1]
21. ^ "SHS Cougar Foundation Hall of Fame". Sahuaro78.com. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
22. ^ "Pima County Sports Hall of Fame Inductees". Pcshf.org. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
23. ^ http://www.frankserpico.com/
24. ^ "FBI — Using Intel to Stop the Mob - Agent Pistone". Fbi.gov. 1981-07-26. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
25. ^ Griffin, Dennis. "Covert: My Years Infiltrating the Mob (9781402754432): Bob Delaney, Dave Scheiber, Bill Walton: Books". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
26. ^ "William Queen". Menstuff.org. 2006-12-24. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
27. ^ "60 Minutes: FBI Wiseguy Fooled The Mob". CBS News. Retrieved 2011-10-10.

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