Former Bandidos National Vice President Sentenced to Life in Federal Prison
In San Antonio today, a federal judge sentenced 59–year-old Bandidos Outlaw Motorcycle Organization National Vice President John Xavier Portillo to two consecutive life sentences, plus twenty years, in federal prison for racketeering and drug trafficking charges.
That announcement was made today by United States Attorney John F. Bash, Western District of Texas; Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Will Glaspy, Houston Division; Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs, San Antonio Division; Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw; Austin Police Chief Brian Manley; San Antonio Police Chief William McManus; and Atascosa County Sheriff David A. Soward
In addition to the prison terms, Senior U.S. District Judge David A. Ezra ordered that Portillo forfeit to the Government his motorcycle, three firearms and $17,827.20 seized from a search of his residence in 2016.
“As I have said before, this prosecution shows that the Department of Justice has the tools to strip away a veneer of legitimate activity to expose and punish underlying criminal conduct. Others—and not only those involved in violent activity—should take note,” stated United States Attorney John F. Bash.
On May 17, 2018, after a nearly three-month trial, jurors convicted Portillo and National Bandidos President Jeffrey Fay Pike, age 63 of Conroe, TX, of (count 1) conspiracy to violate the Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO) statute; (count 3) murder in aid of racketeering; (count 4) conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering; (count 5) one count of conspiracy to commit assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering; (counts 6 and 7) aiding and abetting assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering; (count 9) discharging a firearm during a violent crime; and, (count 12) interference with commerce by threats and violence. Jurors also convicted Portillo of (count 2) murder in aid of racketeering; (count 8) discharging a firearm during a crime of violence; (count 10) conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine and cocaine; (count 11) possession with intent to distribute cocaine; and, (count 13) felon in possession of a firearm.
Jurors found Pike and Portillo guilty of conspiring to conduct the affairs of a criminal organization through racketeering acts including directing, sanctioning, approving and permitting members of the Bandidos to commit murder, attempted murder, robbery, assault, intimidation, extortion and drug trafficking. Evidence during trial revealed that in 2006, Pike and Portillo ordered other Bandidos members to murder Anthony Benesh. At the time, Benesh was attempting to start a Texas Chapter of the Hells Angels in Austin. Members of the Bandidos warned Benesh to cease his activities and recruitment, which Benesh ignored. Several Bandidos members then murdered Benesh on March 18, 2006 outside an Austin restaurant to protect the power, reputation and territory of the Bandidos enterprise.
Jurors also found that Portillo and others killed Robert Lara in January 2002 in Atascosa County as payback for killing Bandidos member Javier Negrete. Negrete, a member of the same local Bandidos chapter as Portillo at the time, was killed outside a San Antonio bar in October 2001.
Jurors also found that Pike, Portillo and others conspired to murder and assault members and associates of the Cossacks Outlaw Motorcycle Organization (Cossacks). Testimony revealed that Portillo, with Pike’s approval, declared that the Bandidos were “at war” with the Cossacks. A number of violent acts were committed by the Bandidos around Texas in furtherance of this “war,” including in Fort Worth, Gordon, Odessa, Port Aransas, Crystal City and elsewhere.
Testimony also revealed that Portillo and other members of the Bandidos were engaged in trafficking methamphetamine and cocaine and maintained an agreement with the Texas Mexican Mafia wherein Bandidos members were not required to pay the 10-percent “dime” to the Texas Mexican Mafia in exchange for permission to traffic narcotics.
“The sentencing of Bandidos National Vice President Xavier Portillo is one more step in concluding a comprehensive investigation by DEA, FBI and our law enforcement partners into the leadership structure and criminal activities of the Bandidos Outlaw Motorcycle Gang,” said Will Glaspy, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration – Houston Division. “This investigation reflects law enforcements commitment to make sure communities across Texas are safe and prevent gang members involved in drug distribution and other criminal activity from establishing a foothold in our communities.”
“The sentencing rendered today is the result of the outstanding partnership between the FBI and all our law enforcement partners,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs. “This effort demonstrates our ongoing commitment to prevent gang violence and criminal activity from poisoning our communities. It also sends a clear message that we will relentlessly pursue and prosecute the leaders and members of these violent criminal enterprises.”
“Gang violence is a threat to the safety and security of Texas communities,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “These are complex cases, but thanks to the hard work and collaboration between law enforcement authorities and prosecutors, these criminals are no longer free to prey on our communities.”
Pike, who faces up to life in federal prison, is scheduled to be sentenced at 9:00am on September 26, 2018.
The FBI, DEA and Texas DPS investigated this case together with the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Austin Police Department, New Braunfels Police Department, Seguin Police Department, San Antonio Police Department, Bexar County Sheriff’s Department, Atascosa County Sheriff’s Department, Palo Pinto County Sheriff’s Department, Ector County Sheriff’s Department, Bexar County District Attorney’s Office, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas. Assistant United States Attorneys Eric Fuchs and John Gibson are prosecuting this case on behalf of the Government.