Top Three Bandidos Bikers Arrested After Two-Year Investigation
High-level members of the Bandidos motorcycle club referred to an assault on a rival gang as a "fishing trip" in a coded telephone conversation, saying that "everyone got to catch a fish" during the assault in Port Aransas, according to a federal indictment unsealed Wednesday.
As the Houston Chronicle first reported, the indictment accuses Bandidos National President Jeffrey Fay Pike of Conroe; National Vice President John Xavier Portillo of San Antonio; and National Sergeant at Arms Justin Cole Forster of San Antonio, of running a criminal enterprise that includes murder and trafficking methamphetamine. It's the result of a 23-month, joint task force investigation into what's described as a war between the Bandidos and the Cossacks motorcycle clubs.
Dubbed "Operation Rocker," the investigation "has inflicted a debilitating blow" to the Bandidos hierarchy, DEA Special Agent in Charge (Houston division) Joseph Aabit stated in a press release. According to the indictment, the Bandidos comprise roughly 2,000 members worldwide, with 42 chapters in Texas. (We wrote more about the group's history and philosophy in May, after the Great Waco Twin Peaks Shootout).
The three Bandidos are in federal custody and are facing a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted, according to the release.
Pike's attorney, Kent Schaffer, told the Chron that Pike was arrested outside his Conroe home without incident early Wednesday morning. ("He was called over a loud speaker to come out and surrender," according to the story.)
The indictment outlines a gang war that kicked off in Abilene in November 2013, when a group of Bandidos attacked Cossacks with whips that had been taken off of their own parked motorcycles.
"This is our town," the Abilene chapter president allegedly told the Cossacks, "if you come back I will kill you."
According to the indictment, the head Bandidos directed club members to attack Cossacks throughout West Texas, including a March 2015 incident in which 20 Bandidos allegedly attacked a lone Cossack at a Palo Pinto County gas station, striking him in the head with a claw hammer.
And in August 20, after Bandidos attacked a group of Cossacks, knocking one in the head with a beer bottle, the president of the Bandidos Corpus Christi chapter called Portillo (the national vice president) to tell him of the "fishing trip," saying, "everyone got to catch a fish," the indictment alleges.
The indictment also claims that, around August 2014, Portillo paid a group of Colorado Bandidos $10,000 to deliver approximately ten pounds of meth.
Meanwhile, according to the indictment, the head Bandidos weren't kind to their own Texas members, forcing them to pay "dues," often under threat of harm.
"This effort not only exemplifies our commitment to prevent gang violence and criminal activity from poisoning our communities, but it also sends a clear message that we will relentlessly pursue and prosecute the leaders and members of these violent criminal enterprises," FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs stated in the press release.
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