There remains an “ongoing investigation…being conducted by the FBI, DEA and Texas DPS together with the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, New Braunfels Police Department, Seguin Police Department, San Antonio Police Department, Bexar County Sheriff’s Department, Atascosa County Sheriff’s Department, and the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office” into real and imagined crimes committed on behalf of the Bandidos Motorcycle Club.
The point of this investigation is to provide a sort of federal firewall that will keep secret the details of the federal “investigation” that culminated in the biker brawl in the parking lot of the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco on May 17, 2015. That cloaked investigation must be kept secret lest careers become stunted or federal law enforcement officials be exposed as criminally libel for an exercise in government provocation that left nine men dead and ruined scores of lives. “Ongoing investigations” are exempt from both evidentiary disclosures to defense attorneys and Freedom Of Information Act requests by troublesome journalists.
Maybe Donald Trump is right after all. Maybe “the system” really is “rigged.”
Richard L. Durbin, Jr., who is the United States Attorney for the Western District of Texas – which is in San Antonio, announced that the investigation remains “ongoing” yesterday in a pair of documents. One was a 635 word press release that announced: “According to the superseding indictment, the Bandidos OMO (outlaw motorcycle organization) declared it was “at war” with the Cossacks OMO.”
There is case law that discourages prosecutors from identifying motorcycle clubs as “gangs” because that label might prejudice juries. It remains fine, however, to tell prospective jurors that club members are “outlaws.”
“The superseding indictment (also) specifically alleges a number of violent acts committed by Bandidos OMO members in furtherance of this ‘war.’ The superseding indictment also alleges that Portillo, Forster 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 superseding indictment also alleges that Portillo and Southwest San Antonio Chapter member Frederick Cortez (aka “Fast Fred”) were involved in the retaliation murder of Robert Lara in January 2002 in Atascosa County for killing one of their own. Javier Negrete, a member of the same Bandidos OMO chapter as Portillo and Cortez, was killed outside a San Antonio bar in October 2001. Federal authorities arrested Cortez” Wednesday.
A censored (secret policemen prefer the term “redacted”) version of the superseding was released on line yesterday. Mostly, Cortez’ name has been blacked out. The new indictment alleges Cortez “was a member of the Bandidos OMO Southwest San Antonio Chapter, became a Bandidos OMO member in 2001, and was a member of the Southwest San Antonio Chapter when John Portillo was President.”
“On or about January 31, 2002, John Portillo and Frederick Cortez, aided and abetted by other Bandidos OMO members and associates, murdered Robert Lara in Atascosa County Texas, within the Western District of Texas.”
And, the new indictment alleges, “On or about January 31, 2002, in the Western District of Texas, the Defendant, John Xavier Portillo, and others, did commit an act involving murder, that is, did then and there intentionally and knowingly cause the death of an individual, namely, Robert Lara, by shooting him with a firearm, a deadly weapon, in violation of Texas Penal Code….”
That means Durbin is now threatening Portillo “and others” with the death penalty. RICO indictments are generally limited to criminal predicates from within the last decade, so how Durbin intends to fit the 14-year-old murder into this RICO case that has also been brought against former Bandidos president Jeffrey Pike and sergeant at arms Justin Cole Forster is not immediately self-evident.
Nevertheless, the cases against Pike, Portillo, Forster and Cortez are now all now blended together. Pike, Portillo and Forster are all charged with one count of conspiracy to commit violent crimes in aid of racketeering (or VICAR) and Cortez and Portillo are charged with “substantive VICAR counts.”
All four men are now scheduled for trial in October. But, given the way in which racketeering cases against motorcycle clubs usually unfold and the great uncertainty about when the “ongoing investigation” may be completed, that seems very unlikely.