SAN ANTONIO - Four members of the Bandidos biker gang were arrested Thursday, including one in Waco, in connection to the 2006 murder of an Austin man.
A federal grand jury indicted Bandidos National Sergeant at Arms, "Downtown Johnny" Romo, 47, in Waco.
The other three, Robert Romo, 45, Jesse James Benevidez (aka "Kronic"), 40, and Noberto Serna Jr. (aka "Hammer"), 35, were arrested in San Antonio.
The indictment charges all four with one count of discharging a firearm during a murder in aid of racketeering. Johnny and Robert Romo are also charged with murder in aid of racketeering.
The indictment alleges the four killed Anthony Benesh on March 18, 2006 outside an Austin restaurant.
Authorities say Benesh was trying to start a Texas chapter of the Hell's Angels in Austin.
A press release sent Thursday night says, members of the Bandidos warned him to stop and when he ignored them, he was killed to "protect the power, reputation and territory of the Bandidos enterprise."
Also included in the indictment are previous federal charges against Bandidos National President, Jeffrey Fay Pike, 61, and National Vice President, John Xavier Portillo, 57,
Portillo also faces a new charge of discharging a firearm during a murder in aid of racketeering for his alleged role in the retaliation murder of Robert Lara in January 2002 in Atascosa County.
Lara allegedly played a role in the murder of Bandidos member, Javier Negrete, outside a San Antonio bar in October 2001.
From the press release:
Pike and Portillo are accused of directing, sanctioning, approving and permitting members of the Bandidos
organization to carry out racketeering acts including murder, attempted murder, robbery, assault, intimidation,
extortion and drug trafficking to protect and enhance the organization’s power, territory, reputation and profits.
According to court records, the Bandidos OMO declared it was “at war” with the Cossacks OMO. The
indictment specifically alleges a number of violent acts committed by Bandidos OMO members in furtherance
of this “war.”
The indictment also alleges that Portillo and other members of the Bandidos OMO were engaged
in trafficking methamphetamine and cocaine and maintained an agreement with the Texas Mexican Mafia
wherein Bandidos OMO members were not required to pay the 10-percent “dime” to the Texas Mexican Mafia
in exchange for permission to traffic narcotics.
Pike is currently out on bond pending trial. Portillo remains incarcerated pending trial. Jury selection is
currently scheduled for August 7, 2017.
The other defendants remain in custody pending detention hearings next week before United States Magistrate Judge John Primomo in San Antonio. Upon conviction, the defendants face up to life in federal prison.
The Bandidos and Cossacks were involved in the May 2015 shootout at a Waco Twin Peaks, where nine people were killed and more than 20 others injured.
More than 150 people have been indicted for their roles in that shootout. The first trial is scheduled to begin in April.
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