Monday, October 24, 2011

Field Report: Bandidos MC

This past Saturday, Oct. 22, I was about halfway between San Antonio and Houston on I-10 east while en route to the latter city for a book signing when I saw a group of bikers coming up fast in the left lane. It was not until they were passing me that I realized they were part of the Bandidos Motorcycle Club, one of our local Texas "one percenter" biker gangs. This caught my eye, as much as anything, because the Bandidos are one of the groups I cover in "Gangland Texas," one of the chapters in the "Mayhem" section of Texas Confidential.

There were about two dozen of them and they were moving at about 90 miles per hour and in close formation, two abreast and at tight intervals. Based on what I know of the Bandidos they were likely heavily armed and, if they were on a long run, strung out on methamphetamine or other stimulants. I can only assume that the police give them a wide berth and, if the only obviously illegal thing they are doing is travelling 20 miles over the speed limit simply leave them the hell alone. I can only imagine what would happen if a lone DPF trooper presumed to pull a group of them over. To call them either a club or a gang falls short of an accurate description and it would be much closer to the mark to characterize them as a paramilitary unit.

Established in San Leon, Texas, in 1966, the Bandidos is an outlaw motorcycle gang and organized crime syndicate with an estimated 2,400 members in 90 chapters in the United States. It also has more than a hundred international chapters and numerous support clubs that it uses as fronts for both legal and illegal activities. Its symbol is an obese Mexican bandido brandishing a pistol and machete, and its slogan is “We are the people our parents warned us about.”

Historically, the Bandidos have been active in drug running, prostitution, enforcement, and contract killings, and are believed to have been involved in the attempted assassination of U.S. Attorney James Kerr in San Antonio (called for by drug kingpin Jimmy Chagra, who contracted the hit on federal judge John Wood III, which I cover in “The Crime of the Century,” a chapter in the “Murder” section of my book).

Founder Donald Eugene Chambers ended up serving 11 years in prison for his role in the 1972 murder in El Paso of two drug dealers who sold the Bandidos baking soda on the pretense that it was methamphetamine.

“First, the Bandidos and their old ladies tortured the brothers a few days,” journalist Gary Cartwright wrote in his book Dirty Dealing. “Then they hauled them to an isolated spot in the desert and made them dig a common grave,” where they executed them with a sawed-off shotgun and then buried them.

Violence remained an important part of the Bandidos’ way of life. On August 2004, gang member Richard Merla was convicted for stabbing to death International Boxing Federation super flyweight champion Robert Quiroga.

“I don’t regret it,” Merla said. “I don’t have no remorse. I don’t feel sorry for him and his family. I don’t and I mean that.” This was a bit much even for the Bandidos, and they expelled Merla, who is currently serving his sentence at the Alfred Hughes unit in Gatesville and will likely be released in 2047.

In March 2006, the police in Austin announced that Bandidos were the primary suspects in the slaying of Anthony Benesh, a 44-year-old motorcyclist who had been trying to start a local Hells Angels chapter. He was assassinated with a high-powered rifle during the same weekend as the Bandidos were celebrating the fortieth anniversary of their founding.


  1. It shows how little you know about my motorcycle club when you don't even have the correct patch in your picture. Quite the expert to make comments like that.

  2. Chris, expertise is a learning process, just like everything else! Appreciate your guidance; send me a picture of the correct patch and I will swap it out for the one that I've got up now. What are the differences between the two? And if I have got any factual errors then feel free to also comment on them; I try to make an effort to get things right and not post incorrect information.

    1. Michael, I agree with Chris. Please try to make sure you have your facts straight before posting anything about ANY outlaw MC. I am not a member of the Bandidos MC; however, I do personally know one. That being said, I will not be the one who corrects your errors; but I will tell you that cut that you have an image of is incorrect, please do more research on Bandidos MC Western Hemisphere, and you will find the correct patch!

  3. I find it sad when a club is forced to change the patch they have worn from the start.
    Bandidos no more
    RIP Bandidos mc.

  4. Andy beck lives here in mt.pleasant mich, says he was the inforser
    4 bandidos out of waco tx. Com 2 find out andy testified on club bros 4 murder, so he tells me. Ive had nothing 2 do with him since. He is just a bully, who told on his own bros.