Bandidos Motorcycle Club
|Founded||March 4, 1966|
|Founder||Donald Eugene Chambers|
|Founded at||San Leon, Texas, United States|
|Type||Outlaw motorcycle club|
|Headquarters||Houston, Texas, United States|
|Worldwide (303 chapters in 22 countries)|
The Bandidos Motorcycle Club, also known as the Bandido Nation, is a one percenter motorcycle club with a worldwide membership. Formed in San Leon, Texas in 1966, the Bandidos MC is estimated to have between 2,000 and 2,500 members and 303 chapters, located in 22 countries, making it the second-largest motorcycle club in the world behind the Hells Angels.
The Bandidos Motorcycle Club was founded by 36-year-old dockworker Donald Eugene Chambers on March 4, 1966, in San Leon, Texas. Chambers 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, 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.
Ronald Jerome "Ronnie" Hodge took over from Chambers as the Bandidos' president in 1972. Hodge was nicknamed "Mr. Prospect" because of the short amount of time in which he was awarded his club membership, and he later became known as "Step Mother" in deference to Chambers' moniker "Mother". Under Hodge's leadership, the Bandidos became an international motorcycle club when the first foreign chapter was established in Sydney, Australia in 1983. The Australian branch was founded by Anthony Mark "Snodgrass" Spencer, who had previously encountered Bandidos members during a visit to the United States. Ronnie Hodge was sentenced to five years in prison in December 1988 for conspiring to bomb homes and automobiles belonging to members of a rival club, and he died of heart disease in 1992.
In 1989, the club was established in Europe when a chapter was formed in Marseille, France. Subsequent expansion into the Nordic countries in the 1990s led to a violent feud with the Hells Angels. The third Bandidos international president, James Edward "Sprocket" Lang, as well as his successor, Charles Craig "Jaws" Johnston, were each sentenced to ten years' imprisonment on drug charges in November 1998. George Wegers, who served as international president between 1998 and 2005, was convicted of racketeering charges in October 2006.
According to the club's website, the Bandidos' Western Hemisphere chapters became autonomous from the international chapters in Europe and Australia on July 17, 2007. The American chapters began wearing a redesigned patch in 2011.
The Bandidos' insignia, known as the "Fat Mexican", consists of a caricature of a Mexican bandit wearing a sombrero and holding a sword in one hand and a pistol in the other. The design is credited to the club's founder, Donald Chambers. The "Fat Mexican" bears a resemblance to the Frito Bandito – a cartoon mascot of the Fritos corn chips brand – and according to Bandidos lore, Chambers took the club's name and logo from the mascot. However, the Frito Bandito was not developed until 1967, the year after the Bandidos' foundation. In addition to the "Fat Mexican" and diamond-shaped ""1%er" emblems, club members also wear other patches on leather or denim vests – known as colors. These patches consist of red lettering displayed on a gold background. The Bandidos' colors were inspired by those of the United States Marine Corps and chosen by Chambers, a Marine Corps veteran of the Vietnam War. Patches denoting a member's rank and chapter are worn, as are various other patches which have specific meanings. Although the particular meaning of each patch is not publicly known, various law enforcement agencies have identified Bandidos patches which they believe are related to criminal activity. For example, police have reported that the "Expect No Mercy" patch is awarded to those who have committed murder on behalf of the club, while the "TCB" ("Taking Care of Business") patch is worn by club officers and nomads. Similar to the "Expect No Mercy" patch, the "CDG" ("Coup de Grâce") patch reportedly signifies a member who has committed a significant act of violence.
The Bandidos' mottos include "Cut one, we all bleed", "God forgives, Bandidos don't", "Our colours don't run" and "We are the people our parents warned us about". Another, more generic, saying of the club is "Bandidos forever, forever Bandidos" ("BFFB").
Bandidos members must be male and own at least one Harley-Davidson motorcycle (although other American-made motorcycles can also be allowed). Prospective members must undertake a three-stage process before being initiated, beginning as a "hangaround", before becoming a "prospect" and then "probation". The length of this process is decided by each chapter president, and ends when the chapter's members vote unanimously to allow the probationary member to enter the club. A screening process is carried out to prevent infiltration by law enforcement. Upon joining the Bandidos, each member must sign their motorcycle over to the club.
Each club chapter follows a structured hierarchy, with a president, vice-president, sergeant-at-arms, road captain and secretary/treasurer. Members must abide by various by-laws, such as not wearing the club patch while riding in a car or truck, and are required to attend meetings (known as "Church") four times per month. These rules also dictate that any member who fails to attend mandatory group motorcycle rides is fined and must forfeit the title of his motorcycle. Another requirement is that Bandidos must follow the philosophy "All members are your brothers and your family", and must "not fear authority and have a general disdain for the rules of society". Any member who cooperates with law enforcement, for example, is susceptible to disciplinary action. All Bandidos regalia, including tattoos, is considered club property. Membership fees are required, and are used to cover club expenses, such as funeral costs, and contribute to a legal defense fund. Club bylaws state that any member who commits suicide will not receive a Bandidos funeral.
The Bandidos Motorcycle Club is 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. The leadership of the club consists of an international president, known as "El Presidente", who has authority over every club chapter. The club also has nomad chapters, made up of members not bound by geographical location, which are responsible for security, counterintelligence and internal discipline. The Bandidos' "mother chapter" is based in Houston, Texas.
The club has 303 chapters worldwide, located in twenty-two countries in North America, Oceania, Europe and Asia.
The United States is home to ninety-three Bandidos chapters, located in sixteen 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 and Oklahoma.
The Bandidos expanded into Canada following a merger with the Rock Machine Motorcycle Club in Quebec in 2000. After establishing further chapters in Ontario, Alberta and Manitoba, the club's operations in Canada ceased in November 2007 as a result of infighting, law enforcement efforts, and pulled status from the club's American leadership.
The first Australian chapter was formed in 1983, in Sydney, by former members of the Comanchero Motorcycle Club. The club has since expanded substantially in Australia and there are forty-five Bandidos chapters throughout the country.
There are approximately ninety Bandidos chapters in Europe. The first European chapter opened in Marseille in France in 1989. This was followed by expansion into the Nordic countries, with branches being established in Denmark in 1993, Sweden in 1994, and Finland and Norway in 1995.
The Bandidos formed its first chapter in the Netherlands in 2014. The club was prohibited in the country in 2017, however.
In recent years the club has also expanded heavily into Spain, Belgium, Estonia, Greece, England and Ireland. Additionally, it is reportedly considering establishing a presence in Russia and Eastern Europe.
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.
Criminal allegations and incidents
The United States Department of Justice and Europol consider the Bandidos to be a criminal organization. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Criminal Intelligence Service Canada (CISC) also identify the club as one of the "big four" motorcycle gangs, along with the Hells Angels, Outlaws and Pagans, and contend that the club is responsible for organized crime activity such as drug dealing, arms trafficking, prostitution, extortion, money laundering and murder.
While individual chapters had previously been banned in Germany, the Netherlands became the first country to prohibit the club as a whole in December 2017 when a court in Utrecht outlawed both the Dutch department of the Bandidos and the international organization on the grounds that the club forms a threat to public order.
- Kessler, Mori (August 27, 2013). "Law agencies prep, keep watch, as outlaw biker club rides in for holiday weekend | St George News". St George News. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
- Bandidos Motorcycle Club bandidosmcunitedstates.com
- Number of Hells Angels charters and Bandidos chapters worldwide Statista (May 24, 2012)
- Durando, Jessica (May 18, 2015). "Bandidos: 5 things to know about second-most dangerous motorcycle gang | USA Today". USA Today. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
- The Gang’s All Here Skip Hollandsworth, Texas Monthly (April 2007)
- How the Bandidos became one of the world’s most feared biker gangs Michael E. Miller, The Washington Post (May 18, 2015)
- God Forgives, Bandidos Don’t Crikey (2 May 2006)
- Who Are The Bandidos? CityNews (16 June 2006)
- 'We are the people our parents warned us about' Dane Schiller, Houston Chronicle (June 6, 2015)
- 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.
- 2003 Annual Report Organized Crime in Canada (PDF). Crime Intelligence Service Canada. 2003. ISBN 0-662-67479-0. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-12-18.
- "FBI and DEA arrest top Bandidos Motorcycle Leaders in San Antonio, Houston". San Antonio Express-News.
- 2005 National Gang Threat Assessment National Alliance of Gang Investigators Association (2005)
- Outlaw motorcycle gangs Europol
- Texas Monthly: "The Gang’s All Here" by Skip Hollansworth APRIL 2007
- History BandidosMC.eu
- Milperra - the spark that started the bikie violence Paul Kent, The Daily Telegraph (11 April 2009)
- Explosives Incidents Report Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (1988)
- Rockerclubs in Berlin Berliner Morgenpost (11 February 2008)
- Biker wars dredge up something rotten in the state of Denmark Sarah Helm, The Independent (12 May 1996)
- Leader of bike gang gets 5 years San Antonio Express-News (November 4, 1998)
- Johnson, Gene (2006). "Bandidos Leader Sentenced to 20 Months". FoxNews.com. Associated Press. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
- Bandidos abandon Canadian expansion Peter Edwards, Toronto Star (18 October 2007)
- USA Based Motorcycle Clubs kicking out or shutting down chapters overseas. Was it smart expanding into different countries in the first place? HarleyLiberty.com (May 15, 2018)
- Ex-Bandido says national president kicked predecessor out over TV interview Guillermo Contreras, San Antonio Express-News (April 6, 2018)
- Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs: Aspects of the One-Percenter Culture for Emergency Department Personnel to Consider Anand N. Bosmia, James F. Quinn, Todd B. Peterson, Christoph J. Griessenauer, and R. Shane Tubbs, National Center for Biotechnology Information (July 15, 2014)
- Are the Bandidos Named After A Corn Chip Mascot? Amrita Khalid, Bustle (May 19, 2015)
- 12 facts about the biker gangs involved in the Twin Peaks shooting Joshua Fechter, San Antonio Express-News (May 18, 2015)
- Ein Bandido packt aus Melanie Pothman, Westfälische Rundschau (6 November 2009)
- Polisen: Det betyder märkena på Bandidosvästarna Sandra Divinyi, Göteborgs-Posten (17 June 2016)
- Can Women Join Motorcycle Clubs? Abby Johnston, Bustle (May 21, 2015)
- 20 Rules The Bandidos Make Their Members Follow Andre Nalin, TheThings.com (September 3, 2019)
- The Infamous ‘One Percenters’: A Review of the Criminality, Subculture, and Structure of Modern Biker Gangs Danielle Shields (2012)
- Federal indictment details life, self-law of Bandidos Dane Schiller, Houston Chronicle (January 7, 2016)
- The Fat Mexican Alex Caine (2009)
- Into The Abyss: A Personal Journey into the World of Street Gangs Mike Carlie, Missouri State University (2002)
- Waco biker shoot-out: Facts about the Bandidos and the Cossacks motorcycle gangs Newsbeat (18 May 2015)
- Outlaw motorcycle gangs – USA overview National Institute of Justice (1991)
- Hells Angels under pressure as outlaw motorcycle clubs from across the globe expand into Canada Adrian Humphreys, National Post (6 June 2015)
- James Morton, Susanna Lobez (2010). Dangerous to Know: An Australasian Crime Compendium. Melbourne University Publishing. ISBN 978-0-522-85681-1.
- Australian Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs & their Territories Rhys McKay, Who (27 March 2019)
- "Notorious gangs eye up Christchurch". The Press. 7 August 2013. Retrieved 13 October 2013.
- "Bad News travels fast - back to prison", 15/07/2012, stuff.co.nz
- "Christchurch gangs face police scrutiny", 15/12/2014, BLAIR ENSOR, stuff.co.nz
- Biker club 'in Channel Islands' BBC News (19 October 2007)
- Les bikers vers une nouvelle guerre Alain Lallemand, Le Soir (12 November 2014)
- Two killed in rocket attack in escalating biker gang violence The Irish Times (7 October 1996)
- Sweden Democrats oust former biker gang boss The Local (1 November 2014)
- Bandidoksen Suomen johtajan ampunut mies pääsee vankilasta vapaaksi Asta Tenhunen, Savon Sanomat (9 March 2017)
- Politiet åpent til stede på Bandidos-jubileum Aftenposten (22 October 2010)
- Motorradclubs und ihre Unterstützer Berliner Morgenpost (24 November 2008)
- Les Gangs de Motards Criminalisés: Une expansion internationale Xavier Raufer, Institut de Criminologie de Paris
- Inside the biker gangs: the truth about guns, drugs and organised crime Belfast Telegraph (4 July 2008)
- Court bans Dutch arm of Bandidos motorcycle gang Belfast Telegraph (20 December 2017)
- Walter Roberts. Biker Gangs. RW Press. pp. 10–. ISBN 978-1-909284-06-7.
- Ronald M. Holmes; Richard Tewksbury; George Higgins (2 December 2011). Introduction to Gangs in America. CRC Press. pp. 86–. ISBN 978-1-4398-6945-1.
- History BMCAsia.com
- 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 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).
- "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.Cite journal requires
- 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 has 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.Cite journal requires
- "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.
- "Motorcycle gang". U.S. Department of Justice. Archived from the original on April 15, 2014. Retrieved January 23, 2010.
- FBI 2013 National Gang Intelligence Center report fbi.gov (2013)
- 2004 Annual Report Archived 2009-12-22 at the Wayback Machine- Criminal Intelligence Service Canada, cisc.gc.ca
- Dutch court bans motorcycle gang Bandidos Janene Pieters, NL Times (20 December 2017)
Books and newspaper articles
- 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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