Bandidos Motorcycle Club
|Motto||"We are the people our parents warned us about"|
|Location||San Leon, Texas|
|Founder||Donald Eugene Chambers|
|Type||Outlaw motorcycle club|
The Bandidos Motorcycle Club, also known as the Bandido Nation, is a "one-percenter" motorcycle gang and organized crime syndicate with a worldwide membership. The club was formed in 1966 by Don Chambers in Texas. Its motto is We are the people our parents warned us about. It is estimated to have 2,400 members in 210 chapters, located in 16 countries. The club considers itself to be an Outlaw Motorcycle Club. The Federal Bureau of Investigation as well as the Criminal Intelligence Service Canada have named the Bandidos an Outlaw Motorcycle Gang.
The club was formed on March 4, 1966 in San Leon, Texas by Donald Eugene Chambers. Many people think Chambers named his club the Bandidos after seeing a TV commercial with the Frito Bandito enthusiastically promoting Fritos corn chips. This is not true, as the cartoon came out in 1968 (although he did adopt an obese machete- and pistol-wielding Mexican Bandido as the center patch for the club's colors). Don Chambers, having served in Vietnam as a Marine, modeled the club's colors after the scarlet and gold motif of the United States Marine Corps. After Chambers' presidency ended due to his conviction for murder in El Paso, Texas, Ronnie "Seneca" Hodge was elevated to president.
The Bandidos has over 90 chapters in the United States, 90 chapters in Europe, and another 17 in Australia and Southeast Asia. In the United States, the club is concentrated in Texas, but extends into Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, New Mexico, Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Washington, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and several other states. The Rock Machine Motorcycle club in Canada merged with the Bandidos in 2000; there was a chapter in Toronto, Ontario until a dramatic internal conflict led to their deaths. The Bandidos are also found in Australia; aside from the non-locale-specific Nomads chapter, the chapters are located 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, and were acquired with much bloodletting. The Australian Bandidos also gave some former Members of a New Zealand Founded Motorcycle club HIGHWAY 61 MC Charter to form a Bandidos Chapter in Auckland New Zealand. In recent years the club has also expanded heavily into Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, France and the Channel Islands. 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.
Like the Hells Angels, The Bandidos also have a number of puppet, or so-called "support," clubs, who are used as proxies for both legal and illegal activities. 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 plead guilty. In October, 2006, George Wegers, then Bandidos' international president, pleaded guilty and received a two-year sentence for conspiracy to engage in racketeering.
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; 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, 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.
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 Australian chapter was founded by Anthony Mark "Snodgrass" Spencer in 1983 following a split from the Comanchero Motorcycle Club. The Bandidos are known in Australia for their involvement in the Milperra Bikie Massacre, a shoot-out with the rival Comanchero Motorcycle Club that killed six gang members and a young bystander. They are also known for their large constituent of members of Middle Eastern origin and of Muslim faith.
More recently, five Bandidos are accused of starting a blaze which destroyed the Rebels clubhouse at Albion, a suburb of Brisbane, Australia on 27 March 2007. All five faced Brisbane Magistrates Court again on 4 June 2007.
On 22 October 2008, Bandido member Ross Brand, 51 and an acquaintance were shot while walking outside the gang's Geelong clubhouse. Mr. Brand was struck in the head and died. Rival Rebels motorcycle gang affiliate John Russell Bedson was convicted for the shooting and sentenced to a maximum 23 years in jail, with an 18-year non-parole period
On 24 March 2009 the Sergeant at Arms of the Bandidos Parramatta chapter Mahmoud Dib was arrested and charged with firearms offences by police investigating a string of drive-by shootings in Sydney. Police found a .45 calibre semi-automatic pistol which was loaded with seven bullets. Days before Dib's arrest his family home was the scene of a wild shootout between members of the Bandidos and the Notorious gang in what is believed to be an ongoing feud with the latter Parramatta based bike group and the Bandidos.
On November 29, 2011 Toby Mitchell, 37, a Bandidos sergeant-at-arms and former champion heavyweight kickboxer, was fired on in Barkly Square shopping centre car park in Brunswick, Melbourne
On April 28, 2012, Jacques Teamo, a senior Bandidos member along with an innocent female by-stander received multiple gunshot wounds by a fellow gang member at the Robina Town Shopping Centre on the Gold Coast.
Bandidos clubhouse's and properties have been targeted by enemy gangs in the Brisbane Metropolitan Area, with the most recent incident being 2 drive-by shootings at the Bandidos Woolloongabba Clubhouse, and a Milton Tattoo Parlor in the early hours of June the 4th, 2012.
The club is also quite active 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 eventually ended 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.
It was this turf war that 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 6 suspects guilty on 44 counts of first degree murder and 4 counts of manslaughter.
These murders would finally close the chapter on the Bandidos Canada "No Surrender Crew" and end any hopes of Bandido dominance in the country. Many of the remaining Canadian Bandidos would later go on to re-form the Rock Machine Biker Gang in Canada early in 2008 which would spread outside their traditional home of Quebec and open up 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 an 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.
- 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 "puppet" 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 puppet club for the HAMC as are the Black Pistons MC as a puppet club for the Outlaws. The Outlaw Nation and the Bandido Nation list their puppet clubs on their national websites."
- "German Biker Gang Members Get Life for Murder of Rival". Deutsche Welle
- 2003 Annual Report Organized Crime in Canada. Crime Intelligence Service Canada. 2003. ISBN 0-662-67479-0
- 2005 National Gang Threat Assessment. Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), U.S. Department of Justice. p. 14. "All of the major OMGs have puppet clubs that serve as a recruitment source and as foot soldiers in conducting criminal activities. The Hells Angels’ principal puppet 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."
- Dulaney, William L. (November 2005). "A Brief History of "Outlaw" Motorcycle Clubs". International Journal of Motorcycle Studies
- CBC News (July 15, 2009). "Bandidos boss planned to 'screw' Toronto chapter: murder trial witness; Accused handed out weapons ahead of meeting with Toronto rivals, police informant testifies". Retrieved 2009-11-19
- AFP (Oct 29, 2009). "Six convicted in Bandidos biker mass murders". Retrieved 2009-11-19
- "Notorious Bandidos set up in South Auckland". stuff.co.nz. 17 June 2012. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
- Caine, Alex (2009). Befriend and Betray: Infiltrating the Hells Angels, Bandidos and Other Criminal Brotherhoods. Macmillan. p. 187. ISBN 978-0-312-53719-7. "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 puppet 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. "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, known as "puppet" or "duck" club members 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."[dead link]
- "A m i g o s M C". A m i g o s M C. Archived from the original on 6 August 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-14.
- "Hombres MC • Seattle • Wash • Chapter - WELCOME". Hombresmc.net. Archived from the original on 12 August 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-14.
- Rick Anderson (2006-07-12). "Born to be Wild - Page 1 - News - Seattle". Seattle Weekly. Retrieved 2010-08-14.
- "The "Kid" vs "Pikin"". Eastsideboxing.com. Retrieved 2010-08-14.
- Web Posted: 09/12/2007 2:00 CDT. "UPDATED: Merla pleads no contest in Quiroga slaying". Mysanantonio.com. Retrieved 2010-08-14.
- "Ex-Bandido Who Killed SA Boxing Legend Breaks His Silence | WOAI.COM: San Antonio News". Woai.Com. Retrieved 2010-08-14.[dead link]
- 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
- Kinzer, Stephen (1996-05-06). "Biker Wars In the Land of 'The Little Mermaid'". Denmark; Norway; Sweden: New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-14.
- "Bandidos leader gets nine years in jail". Thelocal.se. Retrieved 2010-08-14.
- James Morton, Susanna Lobez (2010). Dangerous to Know: An Australasian Crime Compendium. Melbourne University Publishing. ISBN 978-0-522-85681-1.
- Michael Duffy: Bad: The Inside Story of Australia's Biggest Murder Investigation: Crow's Nest: Allen and Unwin: 2012
- Kirsten Veness (2011-03-23). "Pair jailed over Bandidos clubhouse shooting".
- Angus Hohenboken (2009-03-24). "Bandidos leader Mahmoud Dib on firearms changes | The Australian". Theaustralian.news.com.au. Retrieved 2010-08-14.
- Paul Millar and Adam Cooper (2011-11-27). "Shot bikie a suspect in bashing of Roberta Williams associate | The Age". theage.com.au. Retrieved 2011-11-28.
- 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.
- Paul Millar and Adam Cooper (2012-04-29). "Bikie terror hits Brisbane residents as Bandidos war spreads to suburbs; Courier Mail". couriermail.com.au. Retrieved 2012-06-07.
- "Highway to Hell". Julian Rubinstein. Retrieved 2011-10-05.
- "CBC Mass Killings Mean Hells Angels Win Biker Turf War". Cbc.ca. 2006-04-11. Retrieved 2011-10-05.
- "McGill Tribune, Bikers, Bill C-95, Drugs and Mom". Media.www.mcgilltribune.com. Retrieved 2011-10-05.
- York University, Organized Crime in Canada[dead link]
- Sher, Julian; Marsden, William (2004). The Road to Hell : How the Biker Gangs are Conquering Canada. Random House. ISBN 0-676-97599-2.
- Sanger, Daniel (2005). Hell's Witness. Viking Canada. ISBN 0-670-04430-X.
- "Rock Machine Nomads". Rockmachine.ca. Retrieved 2011-10-05.
- 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.
- "Stadtmagazin Echo Münster | Aktuelles: Rocker-Randale bei der Rückfahrt | Polizei - Hells Angels - Bandidos - Mordprozess - Rocker". Echo-muenster.de. Retrieved 2010-08-14.
- "Rockerkrieg im Ruhrgebiet: "Haltet euch da raus!" - SPIEGEL ONLINE - Nachrichten - Panorama". Spiegel.de. Retrieved 2010-08-14.
- Potsdamer Neueste Nachrichten 12 February 2010. Berliner Morgenpost 6 April 2010.
Books and newspaper articles
- Edwards, Peter (2010), The Bandido Massacre; A True Story of Bikers, Brotherhood and Betrayal, HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, (ISBN 978-1-55468-044-3)
- Winterhalder, Edward, Out in Bad Standings: Inside the Bandidos Motorcycle Club — The Making of a Worldwide Dynasty, Blockhead City Press, 2005/Seven Locks Press, 2007 (ISBN 0-9771747-0-0)
- Winterhalder, Edward, & De Clercq, Wil, The Assimilation: Rock Machine Become Bandidos — Bikers United Against the Hells Angels, ECW Press, 2008 (ISBN 1-55022-824-2)
- 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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