How Many Members Does The Bandidos Motorcycle Gang Have? It Has Members All Over The World

A gunfight on Sunday in Waco, Texas between two rival motorcycle games left nine people dead and 18 injured, according to authorities. The shooting was the result of growing tensions between the Bandidos, a leading force in Texas motorcycle gangs, and the Cossacks, another gang that had allegedly decided to challenge the Bandidos' power, according to The Wall Street Journal. The Bandidos are powerful and widespread, but just how many members does the motorcycle gang have? Exact data is hard to find, but there's no doubt that gang has perfected the art of keeping its power and activity relatively quiet.

The gang is thought to have about 2,400 members in 210 different branches, according to the BBC. Most of those members are concentrated in Texas, but they are also spread across the rest of the southern U.S. An FBI report from 2011 says that members have also been found in Canada, Europe, and other places outside of the U.S. Edward Winterhalder, a former high-ranking leader of the gang known as "Connecticut Ed," told the BBC that 90 percent of Bandidos members are "regular working guys with regular jobs and families or older guys living on pensions."

If that makes you feel better about their threat potential, it shouldn't. Winterhalder also told the BBC that the group can be dangerous, and the FBI has listed the Bandidos as one of the five most significant outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMGs) in the U.S. According to the BBC, Bandidos members have been arrested for assault, racketeering, possession of drugs and illegal weapons, and murder, to name a few.

Most notably, six Canadian members were jailed for life in 2009 for murdering eight fellow Bandidos in an "internal cleansing" in Ontario, according to the BBC.

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In its 2013 National Gang Report, the FBI said the Bandidos has been known to assist with the transportation of cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine through the Colville Indian Reservation in Washington because it's so close to Canada. The Bandidos have also been affiliated with transnational criminal organizations, most notably with the Mexican group Los Zetas. The FBI also found that the Bandidos are one of many gangs with military-trained members. Law enforcement in 38 districts reported that members of the Bandidos encourage members without a criminal history to "enlist in the military to obtain weapons expertise, combat training, or access to sensitive information."

Of its members who have been trained in government or law-enforcement agencies, the FBI found that military training is the most common among Bandidos members.

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Steve Cook, a police detective in Independence, Missouri, heads the Midwest Outlaw Motorcycle Gang Investigators Association, a nongovernmental group of law enforcement experts that tracks biker gang activity and shares intelligence among members, according to the WSJ. He told the WSJ that tensions between the Bandidos and the much smaller Cossacks boiled recently when Cossack members allegedly started wearing a patch with the word "Texas" at the bottom of their biker jackets and vests. Cook said the Bandidos took this as a direct assault, because they had claimed sole right to the patch, known as a "bottom rocker," as a sign of their turf:

The fact that the Cossacks would put on a bottom rocker with the state of Texas is basically saying, ‘We don’t respect you, and we won’t answer to you.' It was a powder keg.

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