It all began five years ago in Marion, Ill. A routine 2008 FBI memo noted that the hip-hop duo Insane Clown Posse would soon host the eighth annual Gathering of the Juggalos in the nearby town of Cave-In-Rock, asserting “the Juggalos [are] a legitimate gang with a large following ... [who] follow the ICP in almost a religious manner.”
Three years later, the FBI officially designated Insane Clown Posse fans a “loosely-organized hybrid gang” in its 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment report, alongside Mexican drug cartels and human traffickers.
Records released to MuckRock user Rich Jones show that the FBI’s Salt Lake City office conducted a 14-month investigation into the horrorcore duo’s fanbase. The file identifies Juggalos and Juggalettes as a “violent street gang” numbering in the thousands, whose members “sometimes paint their faces to look like wicked clowns” and “continue the dress by carrying small axes.”
The goals of the investigation were to “examine the structure, scope, and relationships pertaining to the … violent street gang; to identify members and the organization structure of the gang,” and, perhaps most surprisingly, “to identify all illegal activities which may constitute a pattern of racketeering activity.”
Ultimately, the FBI hoped to “develop larger conspiracy investigations and successful conspiracy prosecutions” of even single robberies using the Hobbs Act, a statute frequently used in corruption cases involving public officials and labor unions.
Two “Accomplishment Reports” in the file chronicle the arrests of and drug seizures from a pair of individuals in March 2011 by a FBI task force. The reports do not indicate which drugs were confiscated, nor in what amounts.
The Salt Lake City office recommended the closure of the case in May 2012 in a memo that grouped the Juggalos on a list with “Central American Criminal Groups” and “White Supremacist Gangs.”
Insane Clown Posse sued the FBI last year when the agency failed to fulfill a Freedom of Information request for documents justifying the classification of band’s fans as a gang. The Gang Threat Assessment report cited two assaults that occurred a year apart in two different states as examples of organized violent activity.
The FBI had also compiled a number of press clippings about crimes committed by Juggalos across the country.
This piece is part of Subjects Matter: The FBI Files Project
Photo courtesy Universal Music Group.