The Bandidos Motorcycle Club's History Is Riddled With Aggressive Incidents Probably Older Than You Are
On Sunday, a Twin Peaks restaurant franchise in Waco, Texas was left shattered by a horrifying outburst of deadly violence. Members of two rival biker gangs — the Bandidos and the Cossacks — engaged in a confrontation, according to KXAN, which started as a hand-to-hand melee, but quickly escalated into volleys of gunfire. A staggering nine people were left dead, and the whole country was left to ask who exactly these violent gangs are, and why did this happen? Well, suffice to say the Bandidos and Cossacks have a history of violence towards each other, one which dates back over four decades.
Both groups consider themselves proud "one percenter" motorcycle clubs, as noted by Metro. It's a troubling distinction that says a lot about their respective ethos — one percenter is meant to refer to a declaration by the American Motorcycle Association in the '60s, insisting that 99 percent of riders were law abiding Americans, not outlaws, thugs, or criminals in the way that was popularly feared and understood. It's become a rallying cry for those gangs that decide to skirt the law and enter into criminal ventures, and both the Cossacks and Bandidos claim this title. Here's a cursory timeline of how the clubs arrived at this point.
1960s: Founded In Texas
As detailed by The New York Times, the Bandidos were founded back in 1966, with the Cossacks arising just three years later, in 1969. The Bandidos were started and led by returning Vietnam vet Donald Chambers, who build them into one of the nation's most prominent biker gangs — they boast an estimated 2,000+ members.
The Cossacks, by contrast, are comparatively tiny, but they're no less embracing of the outlaw biker lifestyle, and in recent years aggressions have ramped-up between the two groups. They were launched in the city of Tyler, Texas, and although they don't have quite as prominent a role in biker history — the Bandidos were scraping with no less than the Hells Angels in their early history — they've apparently been at odds in recent years, with WFAA reporting that the Cossacks' failure to pay dues to the Bandidos may have played a role.
1972: The Bandido Boss Gets Busted
Chambers, who started the Bandidos at age 36, was evidently not an armchair leader. In 1972, he was convicted alongside two other members on his gang, for an especially grisly crime of retribution. After being sold fake methamphetamine by a pair of El Paso drug dealers, Chambers and two cohorts kidnapped them, drove them into the Texas desert, and killed them, as detailed by Skip Hollandsworth for Texas Monthly back in 2007.
The police said that before killing the dealers, Chambers had made them dig their own graves. Then Chambers and the other Bandidos had set their bodies on fire before burying them.
Chambers was sentenced to life in prison, but was released on parole in 1983. He died in 1999.
1984: The Milperra Massacre
Being a smaller, less publicly visible group, the history of the Cossacks isn't quite as rife with well-known violent incidents as the Bandidos' is — although that obviously changed after Sunday. But to give a sense of the scale of the Bandidos' international sphere of influence, 1984's bloodshed in Milperra, Australia is instructive. As detailed by The Washington Post's Michael Miller, the Bandidos squared off against the rival Comanchero gang in the Australian city, leaving seven people dead and 28 more wounded.
2013: Tensions On The Rise
In 2013, the Cossacks and Bandidos had a run-in that now seems quite ominous, given the shocking violence that exploded on Sunday — in November 2013, the President of the Bandidos' Abilene, Texas chapter was arrested on suspicion of having stabbed two members of the Cossacks, as detailed by the International Business Times. Both he and another member were criminally charged, though the case hasn't gone to trial yet.
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