Official website: www.bandidosmc.com
The Bandidos Motorcycle Club, also known as the Bandido Nation, is a "one-percenter" motorcycle club gang with a worldwide membership. The club was formed in 1966 by Don Chambers in Texas. Its motto is "We are the people your parents warned you about." In 2005, it was estimated to have 5,000 members in 210 chapters, located in 22 countries.
The Bandidos were founded by 36-year-old dockworker Donald Chambers in March 1966 in Houston, Texas. He named the club in honor of the Mexican bandits who lived by their own rules and he recruited members from biker bars locally in Houston as well as in Corpus Christi, Galveston, and San Antonio. Like other outlaw motorcycle clubs (Outlaws, the Pagans, and the Hells Angels), they call themselves "One Percenters", a phrase coined by the former president of the American Motorcyclist Association who once stated that 99 percent of motorcyclists were law-abiding citizens and 1 percent "outlaws." By the early 1970s, the club had over one hundred members, including many Vietnam War veterans. The majority of the club consists of Caucasian males and Hispanics, but African Americans are not admitted. Their motto is "We are the people your parents warned you about."
The Bandidos has over 90 chapters in the United States, 90 chapters in Europe, and another 17 in Australia, 2 in New Zealand, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
In North America
In the United States, the club is concentrated in Texas, but extends into Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, New Mexico, Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Washington, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and several other states.
The first Australian chapter was formed in 1983, in Sydney, by former members of the Comancheros. They have chapters in Adelaide, Ballarat, Brisbane (Bayside, Centro, City), Byron Bay, Cairns, Geelong, Gold Coast, Hunter Region, Ipswich, Melbourne, Mid North Coast, Mid State, Mission Beach, Noosa, North Victoria, Northside, Sunshine Coast, Sydney, and Toowoomba - along with nomad members.
The first European chapter opened in Marseille in France in 1989, followed by chapters in Scandinavia, in Denmark in 1993 and Sweden in 1994. In recent years the club has also expanded heavily into Germany, Spain, Norway, Finland, Belgium, Italy, Netherlands, Luxembourg and the Channel Islands. As of March 15, 2014, the club has opened a new "Probationary Chapter" in Sittard, in the Netherlands. Additionally, it is looking into setting up shop in Russia and Eastern Europe and also in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. The Bandidos are organized by local chapters, with state and regional officers, as well as a national chapter made up of four regional vice presidents and a national president.
In Middle East
The first prospect chapter opened in Abu Dhabi in UAE in 2016. As of April 22, 2016 and then became Probationary Chapter in April 2017, the club is considered the first international motorcycle club to open in the Middle East.
Like the Hells Angels, The Bandidos also have a number of "support" clubs. These groups usually wear reverse colors (gold border with red background rather than the Bandidos' red-border–and–gold background). They also commonly wear a unique patch (known as the "Heart Patch") consisting of a round patch in Bandidos colors on the front upper left of the colors (vest), as worn by the member. Most of these clubs are regional.
In November 2006, Glenn Merritt of the Bellingham, Washington chapter was sentenced to four years in prison for drug possession and trafficking in stolen property. A total of 32 members were indicted in the associated investigation, on charges including conspiracy, witness tampering, and various drug and gun violations. Eighteen of those pleaded guilty. In October, 2006, George Wegers, then Bandidos' international president, reached a very unusual plea agreement through representation by his attorney Jeffrey A. Lustick, under which he received 22 months credit for time served and three years on supervised release. Despite this being a felony conviction, the plea agreement accepted by Judge John C. Coughenour allowed Wegers to still participate in Bandidos events, associate with known felons, and travel worldwide with court permission. No RICO forfeitures were imposed by the court. Lustick remains Wegers's personal attorney to this day.
On 16 August 2004, a passer-by on Interstate 10 flagged down a police car after finding Robert Quiroga, International Boxing Federation Super flyweight champion from 1990 to 1993, lying next to his car. Quiroga had been stabbed multiple times. Richard Merla, a member of the Bandidos, was arrested in 2006 for the killing and in 2007 pleaded no contest to murdering Quiroga (Merla was in the process of illegally obtaining a 1983 poster for the film Scarface, which was his road name); he was sentenced to 40 years in prison. "I don't regret it. I don't have no remorse. I don't feel sorry for him and his family. I don't and I mean that," Merla admits. In regards to the murder of Robert Quiroga (who had celebrity status as an IBF champion around the San Antonio area where the local Bandidos chapter president (John Portillo) was one of his biggest fans), the Bandidos Motorcycle Club denounced any involvement in the crime, stating that Merla's actions were his own, and not those of the Club. Merla was expelled from the Bandidos due to his actions.
In March 2006 police in Austin, Texas announced that the Bandidos were the prime suspects in the March 18, 2006 slaying of a 44-year-old local motorcyclist named Anthony Benesh. Benesh, who had been trying to start an Austin chapter of the Hells Angels, was shot in the head by an unseen sniper, as he was leaving a North Austin restaurant with his girlfriend and two children. Police said that Benesh was flanked by other people and the shooter used only one bullet, fired at a distance from a high-powered rifle. The murder occurred on the same weekend as the annual Bandidos MC "Birthday Party" in Southeast Texas, marking the 40th anniversary of the club's 1966 founding. According to police, in the days before his murder, Benesh had been receiving telephone calls from Bandidos telling him to stop wearing a vest that displayed Hells Angels patches. On March 7, 2017 federal authorities announced that four members of the Bandidos gang had been arrested and charged with Benesh's murder.
On May 17, 2015, the Bandidos were involved in a gun battle at a Twin Peaks restaurant parking lot in Waco, Texas that killed nine people and wounded 18. Among the dead was a member of the Bandidos and members of the Cossacks. As of January, 2016 the incident remains under investigation, and it remains unclear who fired shots. There was heavy law enforcement present at the scene before any violence erupted, which leads to the belief that it might have been a set-up. Local bikers from many motorcycle clubs (amongst them many veteran and church bike groups) were present to attend a quarterly meeting of the Confederation of Clubs (COC) which had been established over 25 years ago. Twin Peaks corporate executives later revoked the franchise permit in Waco (which also included a sister location in Killeen, TX which was part of the same Twin Peaks franchise). As a result of the Twin Peaks brawl, 3 high-ranking members of the Bandidos MC (national vice president John Portillo, national president Jeffrey Ray Pike, and sergeant at-arms Justin Cole Forster), were taken into custody by the FBI between late December 2015 and January 2016. As of March 2016 Pike is free on bond.
A turf and drug war between the Hells Angels and the Bandidos, known as the "Great Nordic Biker War" raged from 1993 until 1997. It resulted in 11 murders, 74 attempted murders, and 96 wounded members of the involved biker clubs. In Denmark a law was passed in response to the biker war that banned biker clubs from owning or renting property for their club activities. The law was later repealed on constitutional grounds.
On 14 January 2009, the Bandidos Sweden President, Mehdi Seyyed, was sentenced to nine years in prison for two counts of attempted murder. He bombed two cars in Gothenburg, in September 2006, with hand grenades, in acts of revenge as the victims had previously testified against him. Four other Bandidos members received shorter sentences for their involvement in the attacks.
The Finnish National Bureau of Investigation (Keskusrikospoliisi) defines Bandidos as an organized criminal group.
There have been a number of other shootings involving Bandidos Motorcycle Club members: In 2002 a member was shot and wounded by Sean Waygood and Michael Christiansen of the Anthony "Rooster" Perish criminal gang network in Haymarket, New South Wales; In 2008, Bandido member Ross Brand was shot dead, and an acquaintance injured by rival Rebels Motorcycle Club affiliate John Russell Bedson; and in 2012, Bandido member Jacques Teamo, along with an innocent female by-stander received multiple gunshot wounds from a rival gang member at the Robina Town Centre on the Gold Coast.
Hells Angels Quebec president Maurice Boucher organized "puppet clubs" to persuade local Montreal, Quebec club Rock Machine-controlled bars, and their resident drug dealers, to surrender their illegal drug business. Rock Machine resistance led to bloodshed. On July 14, 1994, two members of the Hells Angels' top puppet club entered a downtown motorcycle shop and shot down a Rock Machine associate. That was the beginning of the Quebec Biker war.
That August, a Jeep wired with a remote-controlled bomb exploded killing a Rock Machine associate and an 11-year-old boy, Daniel Desrochers, who was playing in a nearby schoolyard. A month later, the first full Hells Angels member was shot to death entering his car at a shopping mall. Nine bombs went off around the province during his funeral.
The war ended in 2006 with mass killings by the Hells Angels, plus public outcry over the deaths of innocent bystanders resulted in police pressure including the incarceration of over 100 bikers.
This turf war prompted the over-matched Rock Machine to align itself with the Bandidos patching over as Bandidos Quebec chapter. Not all members were happy about the patch-over. Some defected to other clubs while others remained with the club but hoped to restore their sovereignty.
On April 8, 2006, four vehicles containing the bodies of eight murdered men were discovered in a farmer's field outside of the hamlet of Shedden, Ontario, Canada. Six of the men killed in what became known as the Shedden Massacre were full members of the Bandidos Toronto branch, including the president of the organization in Canada; they were Luis Manny Raposo, John Muscedere, Jamie Flanz, George Jessome, George Kriarakis, Frank Salerno, Paul Sinopoli and Michael Trotta. The suspects in the case, Michael Sandham, Marcelo Aravena, Frank Mather, Brett Gardiner, Dwight Mushey and Wayne Kellestine, were also full members or probationary members (also known as "prospects"), in what police described as an internal cleansing of the Bandidos organization NSCC (No Surrender Crew Canada). The victims were brought to the farm of Kellestine, where they were held captive before being systematically led out of his barn and murdered "execution style."
On October 30, 2009 after eighteen hours of deliberation a jury in London, Ontario found the six suspects guilty on 44 counts of first degree murder and four counts of manslaughter.
These murders closed the chapter on the Bandidos Canada "No Surrender Crew" and ended any hopes of Bandido dominance in the country. Many of the remaining Canadian Bandidos re-formed the Rock Machine Biker Gang in Canada early in 2008. The new club spread outside of its traditional home of Quebec and opened chapters in Australia and the United States.
On June 11, 2008, two Bandidos members were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of a Hells Angels member in Ibbenbüren, Germany. Reports say they drove to his Harley-Davidson shop and shot him there on May 23, 2007. After the first day of a related lawsuit on December 17, 2007, riots between the two gangs and the police had been reported. On October 8, 2009, a Bandidos member was shot to death by a Hells Angels prospect in Duisburg.
In February 2010, about 8 ethnic Turkish Bandido members and supporters in Berlin in an unprecedented move defected and joined the Hells Angels, forming a sub-chapter known as "Hells Angels Nomads Türkiye". This triggered a gang war in Berlin that lasted from February to April 2010.
On 26 April 2012 the authorities of North Rhine-Westphalia banned and disbanded the Aachen chapter of the Bandidos M.C., and three support clubs. In the following action carried out by the North Rhine-Westphalia Police 38 properties were searched, in which firearms and stabbing weapons were found. The display of Bandidos Symbols and the wearing of Bandidos Regalia was also forbidden in North Rhine-Westphalia. The Northrhine-Westphalia government found its actions necessary because the Bandidos wanted to build up their criminal supremacy through racketeering and violence.
Since the Bandidos motorcycle club started in the Netherlands in 2014, it has been under continuous attention by the Dutch law enforcement. Particularly the chapter in the province of Limburg was under police investigation several times. Shortly after the start, there were two assaults with explosives on the house of a local president, Harrie Ramakers and there were some confrontations with another motorcycle gang, the Hells Angels. President Ramakers is furthermore suspect in several murder investigations.
In May 2015, a large police raid at several homes of club members lead to the discovery of five rocket launchers, many automatic weapons, explosives and illegal fireworks. The raid was part of an ongoing police investigation involving large-scale drug trafficking; twenty people were arrested and accused of synthesising and dealing of hard drugs, extortion and money laundering.
- Barker, Tom (September 2005). "One Percent Biker Clubs -- A Description". Trends in Organized Crime. 9 (1). Springer New York. pp. 101–112. doi:10.1007/s12117-005-1005-0. ISSN 1084-4791.
Puppet Clubs. In addition to the Big 5 and the Independent clubs there are also "support" clubs that do the bidding of the larger clubs, act as potential recruiting sources, serve as cannon fodder in the wars between clubs, and give a portion of their illegal gains to the larger club. The Red Devils MC is well known as a support club for the HAMC as are the Black Pistons MC as a support club for the Outlaws. The Outlaw Nation and the Bandido Nation list their support clubs on their national websites.
- "German Biker Gang Members Get Life for Murder of Rival". Deutsche Welle.
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- "2005 National Gang Threat Assessment" (PDF). Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), U.S. Department of Justice.: 14. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 22, 2005.
All of the major OMGs have support clubs that serve as a recruitment source and as foot soldiers in conducting criminal activities. The Hells Angels’ principal support club is the Red Devils, the Outlaws have the Black Pistons. The Pagans have the Tribe and the Blitzkrieg and Thunderguards (in Maryland). The Bandidos have several support clubs, including the Amigos, Pistoleros, LA Riders, Hombres, and Hermanos.
- Texas Monthly: "The Gang’s All Here" by Skip Hollansworth APRIL 2007
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- James Morton, Susanna Lobez (2010). Dangerous to Know: An Australasian Crime Compendium. Melbourne University Publishing. ISBN 978-0-522-85681-1.
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The first Canadian Hells Angels chapter opened in Montreal in 1977, and the gang has dominated the province's biker scene ever since. By the early 1990s, however, domination was no longer enough -- they wanted to be the only game in town. At least in Montreal, the province's biggest city and home to pretty much half its population. So, with several support gangs as their foot soldiers, les Hells, as they're known, began a brutal campaign to monopolize the drugs business, especially the big money-maker: cocaine.
- Cherry, Paul (2005). The Biker Trials: Bringing Down the Hells Angels. ECW Press. p. 213. ISBN 978-1-55022-638-6.
'Every affiliated group has a godfather,' Sirois told the cops in describing how Hells' Angels' puppet gangs like the Rockers, the Jokers and the Rowdy Crew worked.
- Hazlehurst, Cameron (1998). Gangs and youth subcultures: international explorations. Transaction Publishers. p. 18. ISBN 978-1-56000-363-2.
In Denmark, where outlaw motorcycle gangs have fought for control of the east European drug market, Hell's Angels use associates and candidates for 'dirty work' (Devlin 1992: 86). Elsewhere they are known to use 'puppet clubs' (Campbell 1993: 5).
- Mallory, Stephen L. (2007). Understanding Organized Crime. Jones & Bartlett Publisher. p. 168. ISBN 978-0-7637-4108-2.
OMGs [outlaw motorcycle gangs] control their networks by violence and intimidation of members, rivals, and potential witnesses. A current trend among OMGs is the employment of puppet clubs to conduct the criminal activity for the sponsor club. In Mississippi, the Pistoleros MC have seven chapters that are associated with the Bandidos. These puppet clubs take most of the risk and return most of the profits to the more powerful OMG members. This trend, along with the trend of Mafia associations, has allowed the OMG to expand their influence and become more diverse in both their legal and illegal enterprises.
- "About Violent Gangs - Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs". US Dept. of Justice. Archived from the original on 2008-10-12.
The Bandidos are most active in the Pacific, Southeastern, Southwestern and the West Central regions of the U.S. The Bandidos are expanding in each of these regions by forming additional chapters and allowing members of supporting clubs who have sworn allegiance to another club but who support and do the "dirty work" of a mother club–to form new or join existing Bandidos chapters.
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- The gang's all here, Texas Monthly, April 1, 2007
- Detective determined to solve 'professional hit' killing, Austin American-Statesman, October 1, 2006
- Who shot Anthony Benesh?, Austin Chronicle, May 19, 2006
- 4 Bandidos Gang Members Arrested in 2006 Death of Texas Man, Associated Press, March 7, 2017
- Daily Mail: "The MANY mugshots of the 170 biker gang members arrested in Waco, Texas shootout that killed nine as judge orders each suspect held on $1million bond" By ASHLEY COLLMAN 18 May 2015
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- Bandidos national vice president, John Xavier Portillo, of San Antonio denied bond By mySA 16 February 2016
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- Paul Millar and Adam Cooper (2012-04-29). "Bikie wars: Man and woman shot at Robina Town Centre; Courier Mail". couriermail.com.au. Retrieved 2012-06-07.
- "Bikie who shot...is jailed for 12 years", 3 November 2014, AP
- "Hunter drug raids: Hunter Bandidos boss Ronald Leggett among 10 arrested", Feb. 12, 2015, DAN PROUDMAN and GABRIEL WINGATE-PEARSE, Newcastle Herald
- "Taskforce Maxima smash drug syndicate with alleged links to Bandidos Criminal Motorcycle Gang", Mar 6 2015, Queensland Police
- "Police charge 28 Bandidos members following raids", 20th Nov 2012, Fraser Coast Chronicle
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- York University, Organized Crime in Canada
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- Edwards, Peter (2010). The Bandido Massacre; A True Story of Bikers, Brotherhood and Betrayal. HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. ISBN 978-1-55468-044-3.
- Edwards, Peter (October 29, 2009). "Kellestine guilty of eight counts of murder at Bandidos trial". The Star. Toronto. Retrieved April 26, 2010.
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- NRW verbietet Rockerbande in Aachen | WAZ.de
- Bandidos openen afdeling in Sittard | De Telegraaf, Nederland 2014-03-16
- Weer explosie bij huis Bandidos-lid NOS 22 March 2014
- Hells Angels weg uit Sittart NOS 19 March 2014
- Ramakers was verdachte in verschillende moordzaken NOS, 27 May 2015
- Vijf raketwerpers gevonden bij actie tegen motorbendes NOS 27 May 2015
- Winterhalder, Edward; De Clercq, Wil (2008), The Assimilation: Rock Machine Become Bandidos - Bikers United Against the Hells Angels, ECW Press, ISBN 1-55022-824-2
- Winterhalder, Edward (2006), Out in Bad Standings: Inside the Bandidos Motorcycle Club - the Making of a Worldwide Dynasty, Blockhead City Press, ISBN 0-9771747-0-0
- Edwards, Peter (2010), The Bandido Massacre; A True Story of Bikers, Brotherhood and Betrayal, HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, (ISBN 978-1-55468-044-3)
- Coulthart, Ross and McNab, Duncan, Dead Man Running: An Insider's Story on One of the World's Most Feared Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs, the Bandidos Allen & Unwin, 2008, (ISBN 1-74175-463-1)
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