That Silly Thing About the FBI Classifying Juggalos as a Gang? It’s No Joke.


Last week, the U.S. Marshal’s Service issued a press release with this headline: “Gang Member Removed from New Mexico’s Most Wanted.” The apprehended menace in question was 20-year-old Mark Anthony Carlson, a white 140-pound male wanted on a felony bench warrant for missing probation. His gang affiliation? The “Insane Clown Posse ‘Juggalo'” gang.

Some context: The FBI apparently believes Insane Clown Posse fans are a threat to America. No, really. The government agency made this abundantly clear last fall, when the bureau released its “2011 National Gang Threat Assessment” report on emerging trends and, for the first time publicly, officially classified Juggalos as one such threat–“a criminal organization formed on the street” lumped in with the Crips, Bloods, and MS-13. In a footnote, the 98-page document categorized Juggalos as “traditionally fans of the musical group the Insane Clown Posse” who belonged to a nebulous “hybrid gang” category explained thusly [page 22]:

Because of their multiple affiliations, ethnicities, migratory nature, and nebulous structure, hybrid gangs are difficult to track, identify, and target as they are transient and continuously evolving.

That same definition could be applied to, I dunno, college undergrads, hipsters, off-duty garbage men. But here it’s strapped on Juggalos, along with the Latin Kings. (“Social networking websites are a popular conveyance for Juggalo sub-culture to communicate and expand,” the document also helpfully noted.)

Initially, this seemed amusingly ludicrous, another example of a federal agency looking foolish for its cultural ineptitude. “The FBI has recently had difficulty distinguishing ordinary American Muslims from terrorists,” wrote Wired‘s Spencer Ackerman, who first wrote about the FBI’s Juggalo gang-list inclusion. “Now it appears it has a similar problem distinguishing teenage fads from criminal conspiracies.” Except that a seemingly silly judgment tucked away in a federal document is beginning to have tangible consequences.

Carlson, whose name wasn’t important enough to spell correctly on the press release announcing his capture, had already served a two-year sentence in county jail for convictions related to two armed robberies, according to the Albuquerque Journal. Whether or not he would’ve been put on New Mexico’s Most Wanted List without the Juggalo association is unclear–we’re still waiting to hear back from the U.S. Marshal’s Office. But the first press release announcing his highly-sought fugitive status suggests Carlson’s dangerous because of his explicit affiliation to two face-painted clown rappers.

Mark Anthony Carslon A.K.A. Mark Carlton is wanted on two felony warrants for failing to comply with the terms of probation both on underlying armed robbery cases. Carlson is a member of the Insane Clown Posse “Juggalo” gang. The “Juggalos” were recently classified as a gang by the Albuquerque Police Department Gang unit and it is believed that Carlson is still actively committing armed robberies in the Albuquerque Metro area.

Even more mind-boggling, Carlson’s Most Wanted poster:

The Wanted Poster actually says the band name Insane Clown Posse. Do these look like kingpins to you?

Meanwhile, today is the second day of the Gathering of the Juggalos, which has gone smoothly after some initial arrests. Hardin County Sheriff Joyce Cullison, whose jurisdiction includes the festival’s Cave-In-Rock location, told us on Tuesday that the FBI hadn’t been in touch with her office. “I’m sure they’re following them,” she said. “They know every move they’re making.”

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