A Lexington County Sheriff’s detective was recognized on Wednesday for his work as one of the lead investigators in a local, state and federal investigation of the Hells Angels South Carolina Nomads chapter.
Michael “Mike” Merckle was awarded the 2013 Robert Faulkner Memorial Award from the International Outlaw Motorcycle Gang Investigators Association, the sheriff’s department announced Thursday.
Merckle, 36, received the award during the association’s 39th annual conference in Minnesota. The association is made up of investigators and others who are committed to investigating and prosecuting crimes that are committed by outlaw motorcycle gang members, according to a release.
“I am pleased that Michael received this prestigious award, which recognizes the outstanding job that Michael performed in investigating Hells Angels activities in South Carolina,” Sheriff James Metts said in the release. “Michael is a smart and dedicated detective who is energetic, tenacious and thorough in investigating criminal activity.”
Merckle has worked with the department since 2004.
Sixteen members and associates of the Hells Angels South Carolina Nomads chapter, which operated between Lexington and Rock Hill, were convicted in federal court of crimes related to a racketeering conspiracy under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Columbia.
Authorities say the members and associates engaged in several crimes including drug dealing, money laundering, firearms trafficking and other offenses. The investigation showed that Hells Angels trafficked in more than 100 firearms and illegally sold methamphetamine, cocaine, bath salts and prescription painkillers, according to the release.