Jay Dobyns: Where is the ATF Agent Now?

As a documentary series living up to its title in every way conceivable, A&E’s ‘Secrets of the Hells Angels’ can honestly only be described as equal parts baffling, intriguing, and haunting. That’s because it incorporates not just archival footage but also exclusive interviews to really shine a light upon this titular international motorcycle club’s hidden extensive criminal history. Amongst those to thus feature in this original is actually Jay Dobyns, arguably the only federal official to have ever even gotten close to successfully infiltrating this notorious organization.

Who is Jay Dobyns?

It was reportedly back on July 24, 1961, that Jay was born into a typical middle-class family in Indiana, only to grow up in Tucson, Arizona, after they’d all relocated for his father’s work. Though if we’re being honest, his teen years were a far cry from his humble beginnings since he’d managed to evolve into a star athlete in several sports by the time he arrived in high school. In fact, he ultimately ended up earning a football scholarship to attend the University of Arkansas in 1980, just to proudly transfer to the University of Arizona in 1982 and continue doing wonders.

The truth is Jay subsequently went on to become one of the best wide receivers in Arizona Wildcats’ history, enabling him to have since landed a spot at the Pima County Sports Hall of Fame too. As for his career, this 1985 Public Administration graduate was invited to the NFL Scouting Combine before he was drafted in the 1985 USFL territorial draft, yet this path simply didn’t pan out. “I’m a person who never had a Plan B…,” he once said. “My Plan A was to play football, and through college, I became pretty full of myself. It turned out I wasn’t as good as I thought I was.”

That’s when Jay began exploring all possible job opportunities before finally deciding upon federal law enforcement, especially because he’d always been passionate about helping others through action. He admittedly could’ve stepped into the military world too with this logic, but he didn’t want to wear a uniform — so he joined the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives in 1987. “Their reputation for street work [attratced me],” he expressed in 2006. “The ATF historically had an understanding of street work and what it’s like to be a street officer or a highway patrolman.”

“I think that’s the beauty of the ATF,” Jay continued. “The ATF never fully embraced that federal stereotype of showing up with a suit and tie and a notepad and reporting to a crime scene after the fact. It’s as close to being a street cop as you can be and be a fed.” Hence commenced his time as a Special Agent, wherein he embarked upon several dangerous assignments as an undercover operative until he was considered well beyond one of the best in the game. In fact, according to a former colleague, whether it be shootouts, militia movements, gangs, or pure violence, this 1988 training center graduate dealt with it all without ever spiraling way out of control.

Jay did get close to going too far while trying to infiltrate Hells Angels between 2001 and 2003, per his own narrative in the aforementioned show, yet he managed to step back at the right time. It was actually one of his personal goals to become a fully patched member of this motorcycle club, but internal suspicions plus outside worries led to his operation’s conclusion just before he did. Yet alas, it was still difficult for him to immediately adjust to his reality of being a family man because he’d not only spent too long not paying any attention to it but there was also a threat to all their lives.

“I was a mess at that point,” Jay once candidly said. “I did some serious, serious damage to my family and I don’t feel one bit of good about that… I lost their confidence”. On the other hand, since his name was made public following the arrests of several Hells Angels gang members for legal reasons, he began receiving countless death threats, causing his family to relocate nearly every two weeks for years to come. There was even a late-night arson attack on his home in 2008 while his wife and two children were asleep inside, but thankfully, no one suffered any injuries greater than smoke inhalation.

Jay Dobyns is a Man of Many Hats

Despite everything Jay endured as well as his rising dissatisfaction with ATF concerning their failure to protect undercover agents or their families, it wasn’t until 2014 that he retired for good. In other words, he served the United States federal law enforcement for over 27 years and had more than 500 Special Agent undercover operations under his belt before he truly stepped back. This was actually around the same time he won a trial for the lawsuits he’d filed regarding the dangers he had to face in the aftermath of his whistleblowing – the judge laid blame on the ATF too.

Nevertheless, since Jay’s experience had resulted in him developing expertise in gang infiltrations, home invasion plus murder-for-hire cases, and violent crime investigations, amongst much more, he was seemingly able to move forward relatively quickly. This former ATF National Academy instructor turned Bureau’s Enhanced Undercover Program member has actually since established the Jay Dobyns Group, an organization offering law enforcement training. He has also evolved into a public speaker on these topics, a legal consultant to the entertainment industry, as well as an adjunct professor on undercover work at the University of Arizona.

We should even mention that Jay is the host of a podcast named ‘Coplan d,’ where he underscores countless heroic first responder stories for them and for those who admire them. Moreover, this high-profile investigator, who worked cases like the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, the Branch Davidian standoff in Waco, the Columbine High School massacre in Littleton before ever undertaking Operation Rooster, Operation Riverside, or Operation Black Biscuit, among many more, is an author too. He has truly detailed almost every single one of his early 2000s exploits in ‘No Angel: My Harrowing Undercover Journey to the Inner Circle of the Hells Angels’ (2009) plus ‘Catching Hell: A True Story of Abandonment and Betrayal’ (2014). As if that’s not enough, this family man’s experiences have also been memorialized in ‘Angels of Death’ by Canadian journalists Julian Sher and William Marsden.

Read More: Where is ATF Agent Jenna Maguire Now?