More counts added to indictment involving Bandidos Motorycycle Club

Federal prosecutors have added charges against two members of the Bandidos Motorcycle Club that include counts related to the killing of a man 14 years ago.

In an indictment partially unsealed Thursday, reputed vice president and San Antonio resident John Xavier Portillo - already facing racketeering charges with alleged president Jeffrey Fay Pike of Houston and sergeant at arms Justin Cole Froster of San Antonio -- is charged with murder in the Jan. 31, 2002, shooting death of Robert Lara. Lara, 24, was gunned down Jan. 31, 2002, at a rest stop in Atascosa County.

The new indictment also added a fourth defendant, Fredrick "Fast Fred" Cortez, alleging he was one of the shooters in Lara's killing.

Several years ago, Richard Steven Merla, 41, confessed to shooting Lara at a rest stop in Atascosa County, authorities said. The shooting was said to be in retaliation for the death of one of Merla's fellow Bandidos motorcycle gang members three months earlier.

Merla is not a named defendant in the new federal indictment.

Merla received 40 years in prison in 2005 after pleading no contest to a murder charge in the death of Robert Quiroga, a retired boxer whom Merla repeatedly stabbed in northwest San Antonio a year earlier. Merla claimed it was in self defense.

After Quiroga's killing, Portillo and other Bandidos held a press conference distancing the club from Merla and said Merla was not a Bandido, news stories show.

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Guillermo Contreras
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mysanantonio.com




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