SAN ANTONIO - Four members of the Bandidos motorcycle organization have been indicted by a federal grand jury in connection to the 2006 murder of Anthony Benesh in Austin.
The Department of Justice said the following people were arrested Thursday:
- Bandidos National Sergeant at Arms Johnny Romo (aka “Downtown Johnny”), 47, of San Antonio,
- Bandidos San Antonio Centro Chapter member Robert Romo, 45, of San Antonio,
- Bandidos San Antonio Centro Chapter Sergeant at Arms Jesse James Benavidez (aka “Kronic”), 40, of San Antonio, and
- Bandidos San Antonio Centro Chapter member Norberto Serna, Jr. (aka “Hammer”), 35, of San Antonio.
The 12-count indictment, unsealed Thursday, alleges Benesh was attempting to start a Texas Chapter of the Hells Angels in Austin in 2006, and that Bandidos members warned Benesh to cease his activities and recruitment. Federal authorities say the four murdered Benesh outside an Austin restaurant on March 18, 2006. The four are with one count of discharging a firearm during a murder in aid of racketeering. Johnny Romo and Robert Romo are also charged with murder in aid of racketeering.
Johnny Romo was arrested in Waco and the other three in San Antonio, the DOJ said.
The Justice Department said previous federal charges against Bandidos National President Jeffrey Fay Pike, 61, of Conroe, and National Vice President John Xavier Portillo, 57 of San Antonio are included in the indictment. Portillo faces a new charge of discharging a firearm during a murder in aid of racketeering for his role in an alleged retaliation murder in 2002 in Atascosa County.
Pike and Portillo are charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO) statute, one count of conspiracy to commit violent crimes in air of racketeering (VICAR) and one count of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by extortion.
The Justice Department press release states:
“Pike and Portillo are accused of directing, sanctioning, approving and permitting members of the Bandidos organization to carry out racketeering acts including murder, attempted murder, robbery, assault, intimidation, extortion and drug trafficking to protect and enhance the organization’s power, territory, reputation and profits.
“According to court records, the Bandidos OMO declared it was “at war” with the Cossacks OMO. The indictment specifically alleges a number of violent acts committed by Bandidos OMO members in furtherance of this “war.” The indictment also alleges that Portillo and other members of the Bandidos OMO were engaged in trafficking methamphetamine and cocaine and maintained an agreement with the Texas Mexican Mafia wherein Bandidos OMO members were not required to pay the 10-percent “dime” to the Texas Mexican Mafia in exchange for permission to traffic narcotics.”
The DOJ said Pike is currently out on bond pending trial while Portillo remains behind bars pending trial. The four arrested Thursday are set to appear before a magistrate judge next week in San Antonio.
If convicted, the defendants face up to life in federal prison.
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