IN DEPTH: Boedigheimer details the motorcycle gang arrests

By on Friday, September 10th, 2021 in Columbia Basin News Columbia Basin Top Stories

MILTON-FREEWATER – Two men were arrested Thursday in a felony case out of Georgia involving the 1% Outlaw Motorcycle Gang. The investigation began in Milton-Freewater and Police Chief Doug Boedigheimer takes us through it step-by-step:

On September 9, 2021, numerous law enforcement agencies collaborated in the arrest of two suspected Outlaw Motorcycle Gang Members who reside in the Milton-Freewater area.  Dustin Wendelin, age 40, is a resident of Milton-Freewater, and Charles Montgomery, age 29, is a resident of the Milton-Freewater area.  Both are strongly suspected of being members of the Pagans outlaw motorcycle gang, prominent in the eastern United States, but in recent times, becoming more established in the west.

The case essentially began with a serious assault case in Spalding County Georgia being investigated by the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office and the ATF.

Locally, the Walla Walla County Sheriff’s Office Gang Intervention Team specializes in gang intelligence, and working cases involving gang related crimes, and it was with the instrumental help of the Gang Intervention Team that Spalding County was able to identify Wendelin and Montgomery as the suspects in their assault investigation.  It was because of this collaboration that Spalding County was able to secure indictments and felony arrest warrants for Wendelin and Montgomery.

Recently, the Walla Walla County Sheriff’s Office hosted a local law enforcement training specifically regarding the Pagan’s motorcycle gang, which would include discussion regarding a chapter of the gang which was operating inside the city limits of Milton-Freewater.

This sharing of information ultimately began communications between a Spalding County Sheriff’s Office detective and a detective with the Milton-Freewater Police Department, during which the Spalding County detective requested assistance from the Milton-Freewater detective, which took the form of writing and executing Oregon search warrants for properties owned and possessed by both Wendelin and Montgomery, to look for any evidence of the assault which occurred in Georgia, as well as evidence of official membership and/or affiliation of Wendelin and Montgomery with the Pagan’s motorcycle gang.

A separate, local criminal investigation had been opened by the Milton-Freewater Police detective involving Wendelin, the information from which was instrumental in helping the detective write the warrants (which allowed the search for evidence both from the case in Spalding County Georgia, as well as the local Milton-Freewater police case), which were later vetted and signed by a Umatilla County Circuit Court Judge.  These search warrants were Oregon warrants, based predominantly on the collaboration between the Spalding County Georgia Sheriff’s Office and the Milton-Freewater Police detective, and were separate from the arrest warrants issued for Wendelin and Montgomery, which were issued out of Georgia, based on their investigation.

The Oregon search warrants authorized law enforcement to enter and search three different locations, two in the City of Milton-Freewater, and one just outside the city.  The timing of the service of the arrest warrants on Wendelin and Montgomery and the execution of the local search warrants was of a critical nature to ensure the safety of all involved, including Wendelin and Montgomery.

The day prior to the service and execution and service of the warrant, a tactical briefing was held in Milton-Freewater which involved approximately thirty law enforcement personnel, including members of the FBI and ATF, as well as a Deputy District Attorney from the Umatilla County District Attorney’s Office, who was crucial in helping guide the Milton-Freewater detective through the complex legal process of incorporating out of state information into Oregon warrants.

On September 9, the mission transpired basically in this way:

  1. The first warrant served was on Wendelin at the Washington State Penitentiary, shortly after 5AM, facilitated due to the collaborative efforts of the Washington State Department of Corrections, the Walla Walla Sheriff’s Office Gang Intervention Team, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF)
  2. After 7AM, three different search warrants were executed at three different target locations, two located inside the City of Milton-Freewater, one outside the city proper at a Umatilla County residence.
  3. Montgomery was arrested on his warrant by members of BENT (Blue Mountain Enforcement Narcotics Team), the Oregon State Police, and Pendleton Police department.

Numerous items of evidence were found and seized pursuant to the search warrants in Milton-Freewater.  The Milton-Freewater Police Department will continue its partnership with the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia, consulting with them and providing them with any and all evidence they require for their case.

Instrumental in the execution of the search warrants were members of the Umatilla/Morrow County BENT team, and other officers and ranking law enforcement from Hermiston PD; Boardman PD; the Walla Walla County Sheriff’s Office, Umatilla Tribal PD; the Morrow County Sheriff’s Office, Pendleton PD; the Oregon State Police; the FBI; the ATF; a Deputy District Attorney from the Umatilla County District Attorney’s Office, who was integrally involved in the legal process since the mission’s inception; and the Department of Human Services who responded to help tend to the needs and safety of any potentially involved children.

The above is a prime example of what effective consultation, communication, and collaboration between law enforcement agencies and other members of the criminal justice system can accomplish.  Every agency and entity named contributed in a positive way to this mission, which met a positive end.

Sincere thanks from the Milton-Freewater Police Department and its staff for all who helped and contributed to this effort.

As in all criminal matters, persons arrested enjoy the presumption of innocence until found guilty in a court of law.

Booking photo is of Charles Montgomery in Umatilla County Jail. Dustin Wendelin is in Walla Walla County Jail which does not provide booking photos.