SAN ANTONIO — A jury has found two former leaders of the Bandidos Motorcycle Club guilty of 13 charges in the murder of a man in 2006.
Jurors found Banditos National President Jeffrey Fay Pike, 62, and National Vice President Xavier Portillo, 58, guilty of conspiring to conduct the affairs of a criminal organization through racketeering acts.
The trial itself lasted almost 3 months and the jury saw more than 1,200 pieces of evidence, including findings from a 6-month wiretap.
Evidence during trial revealed that in 2006, Pike and Portillo ordered other Bandidos members to murder 44-year-old Anthony Benesh. At the time, Benesh was attempting to start a Texas chapter of the Hell’s Angels Outlaw Motorcycle Organization in Austin. Members of the Bandidos warned Benesh to cease his activities and recruitment, which Benesh ignored.
Several Bandidos members then murdered Benesh on March 18, 2006, outside an Austin pizza restaurant.
Jurors also found that Portillo and others killed Robert Lara in January 2002 in Atascosa County as payback for killing Bandidos member Javier Negrete. Negrete, a member of the same Bandidos chapter as Portillo, was killed outside a San Antonio bar in October 2001.
Per the FBI, jurors also found that Pike, Portillo and others conspired to murder and assault members and associates of the Cossacks Outlaw Motorcycle Organization (Cossacks). Testimony revealed that Portillo, with Pike’s approval, declared that the Bandidos were “at war” with the Cossacks. A number of violent acts were committed by the Bandidos around Texas in furtherance of this “war,” including in Fort Worth, Gordon, Odessa, Port Aransas, Crystal City and elsewhere.
"It wasn't just these two guys who went to trial, I think we ended up charging in the teens, the number of Bandidos people, many in leadership positions thorughout San Antonio and elsewhere. Overall I think it's had a very dismatling affect, it's certainly caused a stir in their leadership and hopefully made them think twice if this is the type of criminal business they really want to be in," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Fuchs.
Testimony also revealed that Portillo and other members of the Bandidos were engaged in trafficking methamphetamine and cocaine and maintained an agreement with the Texas Mexican Mafia wherein Bandidos members were not required to pay the 10 percent “dime” to the Texas Mexican Mafia in exchange for permission to traffic narcotics.
At the end of March, Robert Romo, 45, of San Antonio, admitted to shooting Benesh, based on orders by Pike and Portillo.
Pike, who previously had been on bond, was remanded into the custody of the United States Marshals Service following Thursday's verdict. Portillo remains in federal custody.
The defendants face up to life in federal prison.
Sentencing for Portillo is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Sept. 24. Sentencing for Pike is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Oct. 1, both in San Antonio.
The Bandidos motorcycle group is one of five large motorcycle associations in the United States, with thousands of members nationwide. The group is also connected to the 2015 Twin Peaks shootout in Waco.