What Is The Bandidos Motorcycle Club? The Group Allegedly Involved In Sunday's Shooting Has A Long And Storied History

On Sunday, a gunfight between three rival motorcycle gangs outside a Waco, Texas restaurant left nine bikers dead and 18 injured. According to the New York Daily News, the bloody incident began as a dispute at a local Twin Peaks restaurant and then quickly spread to the parking lot, where onlookers had to duck for cover as gang members broke out in a fistfight. The incident quickly escalated into gunfire, leaving at least nine people dead and at least another 18 injured. After photos of the involved gang members made the rounds on Twitter, users and law enforcement who spoke to the Waco Tribune-Herald alleged that the gangs in question to be the Scimitars, the Cossacks, and the Bandidos. So who are the Bandidos?

According to National Geographic, the Bandidos are the fastest-growing motorcycle club in the world. The gang fought against the Hells Angels between 1994 and 1997 in the Great Nordic biker war, which took place throughout Scandinavia and left at least 11 killed. But the Bandidos' roots are in Texas, as Vietnam veteran and founder Don Chambers is from Houston. Chambers has said he decided on the Bandidos' red and gold colors to honor his days in the Marines. According to Corrections.com, Chambers came up with the gang name after seeing a TV commercial with Frito Bandido, the mascot for Fritos chips.

Being a member of the Bandidos is tough and expensive, National Geographic reported. The entire process, according to the outlet, takes two years and involves three stages, and membership dues and a new patch (which all gang members are allegedly required to wear and needs to be visible from 150 feet) both reportedly total $275 dollars each. The Bandidos are also allegedly forbidden to use needles, hard drugs, cheat, or commit suicide, according to National Geographic.

All the motorcycle gangs allegedly involved in Sunday's shootout are well known in Waco and throughout east Texas. In December 2013, a skirmish between the Bandidos and the Cossacks at another restaurant parking lot in Abilene, Texas, left two gang members injured. But according to The Austin Chronicle, the Bandidos' worst enemy is neither the Cossacks or the Scimitars, but the Hell's Angels.

Among the country's largest motorcycle clubs, the strongest rivalry exists between the Bandidos and the Angels — the two largest outlaw clubs, each with thousands of full-patch members.

According to a chilling profile of the gang published in Texas Monthly by Skip Hollandsworth, there are around 400 Bandidos living in Texas, making the gang as large as the notorious Hells Angels in California. Hollandsworth writes:

In the past couple of years alone, police around the country have arrested Bandidos for everything from drug dealing and kidnapping to possession of illegal weapons and trafficking in stolen vehicles. Bandidos have been accused of threatening people who were preparing to testify against them in court and of beating and even shooting any member of rival motorcycle clubs who has either not shown them the proper respect or attempted to invade one of their territories.
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Even after police officers closed off the scene and the fight died down, they had to arrest new gang members who began arriving on the scene in order to retaliate, officials said during a press conference. Waco police spokesman Sgt. Patrick Swanton told press police were aware of increasing tension among rival gang members at the restaurant over the past few weeks. Authorities confirmed that only gang members were harmed during Sunday's incident — no civilians.

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