LEXINGTON — It’s the stuff of crime novels and movie plots: Going undercover with the Hells Angels.
But it’s real life for Lexington County Sheriff’s Department Detective Michael “Mike” Merckle.
Merckle, 36, was honored with a national award Wednesday for his work as one of the lead investigators into a local, state and federal investigation that led to the convictions of 16 Hells Angels South Carolina Nomads members and their associates.
Merckle, who joined the department in July 2004, was given the 2013 Robert Faulkner Memorial Award from the International Outlaw Motorcycle Gang Investigators Association. The Minnesota-based association includes investigators and others working to prosecute crimes committed by outlaw motorcycle gang members, according to a release from the Sheriff’s Department.
“Michael is a smart and dedicated detective who is energetic, tenacious and thorough in investigating criminal activity,” said Sheriff James Metts in the release.
The Hells Angels South Carolina Nomads chapter, which ranged from Lexington to Rock Hill, was investigated by federal authorities for crimes engaging in drug dealing, money laundering, firearms trafficking, use of firearms in relation to violent crimes and drug dealing, attempted armed robbery, arson and other offenses, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Authorities showed the Hells Angels trafficked in more than 100 firearms and also illegally sold methamphetamine, cocaine, bath salts and prescription painkillers.