Ex-Bandidos member testifies about beatdown that quelled a coup

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The caravan of bikers wearing black vests with red and gold patches was about 70 deep when it pulled into a “party site” outside Roswell, New Mexico, for what was supposed to be a regional meeting of the Bandidos Motorcycle Club.

Soon, dust kicked up at the front of the pack, and David Lombino — from his motorcycle near the middle of that caravan — could see men clad in black clubbing, punching and kicking the bikers at the front.


Such was the scene of a March 2011 ambush of members and supporters of the Bandidos’ El Paso chapters, Lombino testified Tuesday during the San Antonio racketeering trial of the Bandidos’ former top leaders, then-national president Jeffrey Fay Pike and ex-national vice president John Xavier Portillo.

Lombino, who was a member of the Bandidos’ Las Cruces, New Mexico, chapter at the time, said the assailants were not rivals but members of the same motorcycle club. At least one of the attackers went down the line of bikers, shoved a shotgun in their faces and posed the question: Who is your boss?


“They were pummeled” if they answered “Ernie,” said Lombino, referring to Ernest Morgas, who was president of the El Paso chapters and led the Bandidos’ members in New Mexico, which borders Texas.

With the 12-gauge in his face, Lombino answered “Jeff” and “Portillo,” Lombino testified, adding that he mixed up last names.

Asked by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Gibson what Jeff he was referring to, Lombino answered “Jeff Pike” the president at the time. Lombino added that he’d never met Pike.

Federal prosecutors put Lombino on the stand in support of their theory that Pike ordered the beatings to quell a coup from members who opposed Pike’s plans to split the Bandidos chapters in the United States and Western Hemisphere from its European and Australian chapters.

According to prosecutors, Pike also ordered a change in the club ‘s patch to reflect the split of the Bandidos, which had grown to be a worldwide organization under his predecessors. The Roswell incident is among a series of acts alleged in a federal indictment that accuses Pike and Portillo of ordering or sanctioning violence on rivals to protect the Bandidos’ territory and to discipline its own members to maintain order.

Lombino testified that Morgas was bloodied and appeared to have head, face and rib injuries. Lombino said Charles “Boogeyman” Anderson, another member of the El Paso Bandidos, was knocked unconscious. Lombino said the assailants used clubs, sticks, locks wrapped in bandannas, gloves partially filled with BBs and the butt of a shotgun to beat their targets.

Hospital records that prosecutor Gibson showed the jury said Morgas and Anderson told medical personnel they sustained their injuries in motorcycle accidents, but Lombino refuted that.

After the beatings, a meeting took place in which reasons for the attack were somewhat explained, Lombino said, adding that members had a cookout and continued with the party after the dust settled.

Lombino said he left the Bandidos in 2013 under bad terms and was accused by other members of being a police officer or working with them. Lombino also said Bandidos went to his house to beat him and take any property denoting his membership in the Bandidos. He also said he’s been threatened and accused of “being a snitch” for the past five years.

Under cross-examination, Pike’s lead lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, argued that Lombino implicated Pike only after federal agents suggested his name.

DeGuerin also asked if Lombino was eager to “unload” on his former motorcycle club.

“Yes sir,” Lombino replied.

Lombino is the second eyewitness in the trial to detail the Roswell matter.

Justin Cole Forster, a former national sergeant at arms, testified March 1 that he and Portillo — who was a national sergeant at arms until he became vice president in 2013 — were summoned to Houston in 2011, where Pike dispatched Forster and others to take care of Morgas.

Forster said he was given money to buy “burner” cellphones, and the crew took a truck instead of motorcycles and joined with other Pike-supporting nationally ranked Bandidos to kick Morgas and 15 others out of the Bandidos.

“We asked them if they knew who their president was,” Forster said. “If they didn’t answer right, we took their patches, and they got beat. If they answered Jeff (Pike), they didn’t get beat.”

The trial continues through April, with breaks on some days because the judge or Pike’s lawyers are out of town on unrelated cases.

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