EL PASO, Texas (August 11, 2016) — The leaders of the El Paso chapter of the Bandidos were arrested after being accused of attacking and trying to take the vests of two members of a rival motorcycle club last week outside a far East Side restaurant, police said Thursday.
Bandidos chapter president Juan Martinez, 60; sergeant-at-arms James Heredia, 45; and secretary Thomas Decarlo, 32, were arrested last week by the Gang Unit on charges of engaging in organized criminal activity-aggravated robbery, police said.
The fight allegedly stemmed from problems between the Bandidos and another biker club, according to court documents filed by police gang investigators. The other club is not named in documents.
A 29-year-old man was "badly hurt" when he was hit in the head with a baseball bat and an expandable baton during the assault on the night of Aug. 3 outside Hot Chicks Wing House at 2281 N. Zaragoza Road, a complaint affidavit filed by police states.
According to documents, members of the Bandidos allegedly pulled up on motorcycles, got off and confronted a member of another club, identified only as G. Quesada, who was smoking a cigarette outside the restaurant.
Martinez allegedly went up to Quesada, asked him who was in charge and Quesada told him not to worry about it, the documents state. Martinez told Quesada to move out of the way. When Quesada refused to move, he was allegedly punched by the three men.
Another biker, E. Delgado, came out of the restaurant when he saw Quesada being assaulted, documents state. Bandidos then allegedly hit Delgado on the head with an expandable baton and a baseball bat, but he managed to block some of the blows with his left hand.
Quesada went after the man with the baseball bat but allegedly was tackled by Decarlo before men began to punch and kick him while he was on the ground, the documents state.
"Take their vest," Martinez allegedly ordered, according to the affidavit.
Vests, adorned with patches with various meanings, are symbolic of a biker's membership in a motorcycle club. It is a custom for outlaw motorcycle club members to remove a rival's vest as a sign of disrespect, law enforcement investigators have said.
During the assault, a cellphone was allegedly taken from Delgado's vest, but the men were able to hold on to their vests, the complaint states. Martinez also allegedly unholstered a handgun, but Delgado was able to punch him before being beaten by men again, the complaint states.
Police eventually arrived on a call about a fight with weapons and a man with a gun.
Documents state Delgado was taken for treatment to Del Sol Medical Center and had bruises, swelling to the left side of his face and needed stitches on his left ear.
Martinez, Decarlo and Heredia were arrested Aug. 4. Martinez and Decarlo were each booked into the El Paso County Jail under a $75,000 bond, while Heredia was jailed under a $60,000 bond, police said. Heredia and Martinez bonded out of jail the same day they were arrested. Decarlo posted bond Saturday.
Court documents state that the incident was recorded on security camera video and that the attackers were also identified by witnesses. During the investigation, gang investigators seized four guns, three bats and an expandable baton, police officials said.
The Bandidos for decades have been the dominant motorcycle club in the El Paso region, but there have been conflicts with other clubs in recent years.
In 2012, several members and associates of the Bandidos were arrested by El Paso police after a man was beaten with brass knuckles at a biker bar because he was wearing a shirt of another motorcycle club, according to El Paso Times archives.
The Bandidos are described in the indictment as an outlaw motorcycle organization with an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 members in about 175 chapters in 15 countries. They have 107 chapters in the United States, including about 42 in Texas.
"The conflict between the Bandidos and the Cossacks appears to have originated from territorial disputes," according to the 2015 Texas Gang Threat Assessment by the Texas Department of Public Safety.
"Cossacks members have recently started wearing the Texas patch on the bottom of their vests without the approval of the Bandidos," the threat report states. "Traditionally, the Bandidos have been the dominant motorcycle club in Texas, and thus no other club is allowed to wear the Texas patch without their consent.