Bandidos president's funeral a major event, biker gang expert says

The funeral this weekend for a slain El Paso Bandidos leader will be a major event for the motorcycle club and law enforcement, an expert on biker gangs said.

Funeral services begin Friday with a vigil for Juan Martinez Jr., 61, who police identified as the president of an El Paso chapter of the Bandidos Motorcycle Club.

"He was a chapter president. He was killed for being a Bandido. It will be a very large funeral. With that said, law enforcement’s role is to keep it without violence," said Terry Katz, spokesman for the International Outlaw Motorcycle Gang Investigators Association. The group provides specialized training on biker gangs to law enforcement and prosecutors.

Martinez died Aug. 3 after he and three other men were shot four days earlier during a biker gang fight at Mulligan's Chopped Hog bar in the far East Side.

El Paso police later arrested Javier Gonzalez, 34, of the rival Kinfolk Motorcycle Club, in connection with the shooting.

Juan Martinez Jr.

Juan Martinez Jr. (Photo: Courtesy)

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A vigil for Martinez will start at 6 p.m. Friday at St. Francis Xavier Mother Cabrini Catholic Church, 12200 Vista Del Sol Drive.

The funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Mark Catholic Church, 11700 Pebble Hills Blvd. Interment will be at Evergreen East Cemetery, 12400 Montana Ave.

"There will be a very large law enforcement presence to make sure the funeral goes on without violence," Katz said. "We've had violence at biker gang funerals before."

Funerals have been targeted in the past because a gang's enemies are all gathered at one location, Katz said.

Bloodshed can break out even with law enforcement present, said Katz, pointing out that police were outside during the 2015 shootout involving the Bandidos and Cossacks biker clubs at a Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas.

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El Paso police spokesman Sgt. Enrique Carrillo declined to talk about any measures police were taking regarding the funeral.

"There are concerns about some (funeral-related) traffic issues, but we will address those as they arise," Carrillo said.

Carrillo pointed out there had been no further biker-related violence since the bar shooting.

The Texas Department of Public Safety said that it will beef up patrols in El Paso.

"At the request of the El Paso Police Department, DPS is providing additional patrol presence in the area through Saturday," DPS spokeswoman Lt. Elizabeth Carter said in an email.

Carter said that DPS "regularly provides assistance to local law enforcement across the state surrounding events where a sizable attendance is expected."

She said she would not discuss any security measures regarding the funeral but said that large-scale events are monitored from a public safety perspective.

 

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Daniel Borunda
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elpasotimes.com




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