The Lara Murder

July 9, 2016

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The Lara Murder

The sizzle in the federal superseding indictment of four members of the Bandidos Motorcycle Club filed Wednesday afternoon, is the accusation that former club vice president John Portillo and a, so far secret accomplice, “aided and abetted by other Bandidos OMO members and associates, murdered Robert Lara in Atascosa County, Texas, within the Western District of Texas.” It is an old accusation.

A former Bandido named Richard Steven Merla confessed to Lara’s murder in April 2007. Merla had already been sentenced to 40 years in prison for the 2004 murder of a retired boxer and San Antonio local hero named Robert Quiroga. Merla was sentenced to serve another 40 years for Lara’s murder. He is currently incarcerated at the maximum security Alfred D. Hughes Unit in Gatesville, Texas. It is, reputedly, an unpleasant place to do one’s time. Merla is now 50-years-old. His projected release date is April 9, 2047. He will be eligible for parole in April 2027.

The Bandidos, and specifically Portillo, disowned Merla after he stabbed Quiroga to death. “This was not an action of our club,” Portillo said. “We do not condone this. This was the act of a coward that is no longer a member of this motorcycle club.” Merla confessed to Lara’s murder two years after that. Then, within a year of his 2007 confession, about three years after he had been expelled from the Bandidos, Merla began to reevaluate his time in the club and his relationship with Portillo.


In an episode of the History Channel series Gangland titled “Bandido Army,” first cablecast on October 17, 2008, Merla explained, “Portillo tapped him to be his sergeant at arms, the chief of his security force,” and “he was quickly awarded the gang’s coveted ‘expect no mercy’ patch. The patch is given to members who have done something beyond the normal call of duty for the gang.”

Publically available court filings indicate that the episode “Bandido Army” was produced with the cooperation of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Gangland represented itself as a journalistic endeavor but outtakes from the television show were used in at least two prosecutions: US v. Cavazos et al. and Tennessee versus Gutierrez.

Gangland explained Lara’s murder like this:

“A Bandido named Javier Negrete was shot in the stomach and killed outside a billiard hall. Some witnesses told police Negrete had been trying to break up a fight. Hundreds of Bandidos laid Negrete to rest in an elaborate ceremony. Then they began to hunt down his killer. Richard Merla, aka Scarface, was front and center.”

“We had different meetings how we’re going to do it, when we’re going to do it, blah, blah, blah, and who, who can we trust,” Merla told the television show.

A narrator stated, “Police had pegged a local named Roberto Lara for the shooting and were trying to build a case against him. The Bandidos got to him first…. Months after Negrete’s murder, Merla and a group of four accomplices pulled into a rest stop south of the city. It was an elaborate set-up. Lara had arrived moments earlier with a woman, who was actually part of the plan.”

“We already know what she’s driving,” Merla claimed. “So me and another Bandido got out of the truck and went straight to his car.”

The narrator of the program from eight years ago said, “Merla and the Bandidos pulled Lara out of the car and shot him 11 times.”


About 43 minutes into the television program, Merla provided the basis for the charges filed against Portillo earlier this week.

“Merla claims the Bandidos broke their own code and ratted him out for an earlier murder, the 2002 rest stop killing of Roberto Lara, the man Merla shot 11 times in retaliation for a Bandido’s death.”

“I took the rap, took all the rap,” Merla said on camera.

The narrator stated, “Merla claimed he was simply following the orders issued by (chapter) president John Portillo when he shot Lara.”

“He had his sources,” Merla told the History Channel, “and when he came to me, he said, ‘that’s the guy.’  I knew what he wanted done. He didn’t want no black eyes and broken noses, teeth missing. And I took care of it.”

The narrator said, “Merla says only Portillo had the authority to order the hit…. Portillo has refused numerous interview requests. He adamantly denies ordering the murder and hasn’t been charged with any crime.”

“If I wanted to,” Merla said, “I could have been like them, snitches, but it’s against my own personal beliefs is pointing the finger at other people. And, they know it. They know it.”

“I had a few regrets in my life,” Merla confided at the end of the show, “but the biggest regret I ever had in my life was ever becoming a Bandido, because they stabbed me in the back, you know. They stabbed me in the back…. I wouldn’t want to get out, because I got one thing on my mind, and I’m telling you the truth. I wouldn’t want to get out for the simple fact I’m known to retaliate, and I will, so I’m better off in here. So I’m better off in here.”

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8 Responses to “The Lara Murder”

  1. Tooj Says:

    My take is that it doesn’t matter that much about Merla. If he pipes up that he can finger someone else in the Club, then cops beat a path to his door. It matters little about evidence, but is much more important to LE to incarcerate as many club members as they can.

  2. Brad H Says:

    So-o-o the feds are holding men for a murder with no physical evidence, hear say testimony and have the admitted shooter in custody. The case is 14 years old. HMMM.

    And now from Denver …


  3. Curious Says:

    Merla was not, and still isn’t I’m sure, smart enough to come up with this with out some help. Be interesting to know who, from which agencies have been to visit him since Waco?

  4. joseph plyler Says:

    I sat through the Rock Hell Hells Angels trial.It seemed strange to me that the prosecutor and the defense attorneys agreed not to present expert witnesses to argue out the issue of gang or club.Under the Homeland Security Act,all means of monitoring can be used to gather evidence(secretly)against terrorists and known associates. The act prohibits the use of this evidence in criminal cases.Gang members are declared Domestic Terrorists,allowing the Feds to gather evidence any way possible,including using National Guardsmen assisting police agencies doing under cover work.According to a C-Span program I watched,part of the Feds training consists of how to lie under oath and not be detected.It also brought out how before trial,the Prosecutor meets the presiding judge,alone,and the judge is briefed on how the evidence was gathered.The judge is then required to sign a paper stating they have been briefed and if they permit how evidence was gathered during trial,the judge will be charged with breech of national security.So…seems to me defense attorneys might ought to challenge this gang/domestic terrorist issue. The who,how,and why some of our most patriotic citizens can be deemed to have no rights,framed,and put in prison by a system of crooked Federal Agencies.Waco defense attorneys,hope you can expose this crooked system.

  5. IronRider Says:

    ” Publically available court filings indicate that the episode “Bandido Army” was produced with the cooperation of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Gangland represented itself as a journalistic endeavor but outtakes from the television show were used in at least two prosecutions: US v. Cavazos et al. and Tennessee versus Gutierrez. ”

    You have go to be kidding me? The Judge actually allowed prosecutors in two cases two use snippets from what is alleged to be a documentary TV show into two separate trials? Shows that were the ATF participated in the narrative of the show it self?

    Christ what’s next? Snippets from the National Enquirer entered in as evidence? How the hell does a sitting Judge allow into a trial snippets from a docu drama series into a trial? Fuck me that is hearsay at best even if someone said “yeah we did this and that” for a TV show IMHO.

    Our court system is a joke, and this further proves just that point. The courts nowadays seem to be allowing the prosecutors to submit just about any shit they want and the courts seem to be taking the constitution and allowing it to be run the fuck over so that the USDOJ can get convictions they wouldn’t have been able to secure years and years ago.

  6. BMW Says:

    So the self-confessed murderer, (definitely a total whack job) is now trying to blame someone else so he might get out of jail? And anybody believed him? And an “independent” production, run by the ATF, vouched for the new story of the self-confessed murderer? Smells funny from the north coast!



  8. Concerned Citizen Says:

    I wonder if any of this has come to play in the Waco trials?

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