From the #1 national bestselling author of Befriend and Betray, an intimate exposé of a criminal empire and the massacre that nearly started a global biker war.
Having once infiltrated the Bandidos for three years in a landmark police operation, Alex Caine is uniquely positioned to reveal the untold story of the Hells Angels’ fiercest rivals.
Grounded in the crucible of the little understood Shedden massacre of 2006 and one unlikely prospect’s descent into the biker lifestyle, The Fat Mexican exposes the violent criminal history of the Bandidos motorcycle club, the Hells Angels’ fiercest competition: their violent beginnings, the terror their aggressive expansion caused rivals and innocents alike, and the internal politics and rivalries that drive them to this day.
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Alex Caine has retired from his career as a contracted agent, infiltrating criminal and terrorist organizations on behalf of police forces in Canada and abroad. He acts as a consultant in high-level cases and provides the media with background information on biker investigations.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
The People Our Parents Warned Us About
The summer of 1965 found Elvis singing in the chapel and the Beach Boys chasing California girls. The days of "peace" and "the Summer of Love" had not yet arrived, but change was in the air. It was an unlikely time for the birth of a group dedicated to violence and mayhem. But in the little fishing village of San Leon, on the Gulf of Mexico, such a beast was born.
Initially this collection of roughnecks didn't seem so bad, just a small group of dockworkers, the majority of them veterans of Vietnam, who started getting together after work and on weekends to party. Early in the spring of 1966, Donald Chambers began to organize the group into a motorcycle club. Chambers had been a member of other motorcycle clubs but had found them too tame for his tastes.
Chambers had the classic '60s biker look; he was lean and wiry, with hair down to his shoulders, long sideburns and the clothes to match. In his mid-thirties when he founded the Bandidos, he had a taste for Canadian whisky and a reputation for being quick with his fists and his knife, especially when he had been drinking. He wanted real outlaw bikers for his club, and he quickly got some. The Hells Angels had recently acquired national prominence, largely due to Hunter S. Thompson's book about them; Chambers and his cronies were certain they could do a better job, and set out to prove it.
Chambers chose the name "Bandidos" for his new club. He revered Pancho Villa and Emilio Zapata, and felt that the Mexican bandits and revolutionaries had lived as free men, answering to no one. In fact, one of Zapata's sayings became part of the Bandidos creed: "Better to die on your feet than live on your knees!" The Bandidos logo, known as "The Fat Mexican," depicts a big-bellied bandit wearing a sombrero; he is smiling and brandishing a gun and a dagger. Chambers welcomed Hispanic members into the Bandidos, in direct contrast to the "whites-only" policy of the Hells Angels. The club also used Spanish for the titles of its national officers, and still does; the president is el presidente, the secretary-treasurer is el secretario, and so on. The club logo bears a striking resemblance to the "Frito Bandito" cartoon character, launched in 1967 to promote Frito corn chips; though the club was founded and named well before this character first appeared, the Fat Mexican and Frito Bandito came into use within months of one another, and it's likely that one influenced the other.
The red and gold colours used on the logo and on Bandidos patches are believed to be drawn from the colours of the U.S. Marine Corps— Chambers was a former Marine. The Mexican theme is interesting given the reverence the Bandidos have for the Alamo and the story connected with it. (I quickly learned that contradictions are rampant when you're dealing with bikers.) At one point, Chambers had business cards made up for members of the club. The cards were gold, with the words "We are the people our parents warned us about" in red letters across the top. At the bottom on the left were the initials "FTW," which stand for "Fuck the World." In the middle were the words "Bandido by profession, Biker by trade, Lover by choice[,] You have just had the honor of meeting—"followed by a blank line where the biker could write his name.
The club was a perfect place for veterans to find the brotherhood they had lost when they left the services, and also the hierarchy they had become used to. The jaded view of society they'd developed in the killing fields of Southeast Asia, coupled with the rejection they'd faced when they came home, reinforced their feelings of alienation and marginalization. They came back to a country that no longer seemed to want them, trained in skills that had no place in civilian life. It was only natural that they would seek each other's company. (It's interesting to note that many of those in law enforcement working against the bikers are also veterans. Having done my own tour of Nam, I can count myself among their number.)
The Bandidos soon moved beyond simply riding and partying together. They began stealing motorcycles, chopping them up and selling the parts whenever they needed extra money, or using them when their own machines broke down. Although the club never stopped hawking stolen bike parts, the job of stealing them was soon relegated to prospects (prospective club members, who have to go through a probationary period before being "patched" as full members) and hang-arounds. Theft was too much like work.
Delegating criminal activity is common practice in the outlaw biker world. Law-enforcement estimates suggest that at any given time, full-patch members of the outlaw clubs have anywhere from five to thirty prospects and hang-arounds at their disposal to do everything from menial housework to running their criminal enterprises. This latter activity keeps the bikers insulated from the threat of prosecution, while the ever-present threat of violent retaliation keeps any prospect or hang-around who is arrested from talking.
The club quickly found easier and more entertaining methods of making money: sex and drugs, though not necessarily in that order. Since it was a beach town, San Leon offered a plentiful supply of attractive young women. They loved to ride on the backs of the Bandidos' Harley-Davidsons and to attend their wild parties. Drugs were plentiful at these gatherings, and getting these girls addicted would not have been difficult. Once hooked, they would be put to work for the club as strippers, escorts and prostitutes.
When people today think of what the typical biker community is like, their ideas are usually based on something that's come out of Hollywood— like Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda in Easy Rider—and is therefore wrong; but back in the '60s, it was right on the money. The Bandidos lived to ride, drink and party. They became an antisocial force to be reckoned with, quickly becoming feared and respected by those they derisively referred to as "citizens." They clearly saw themselves as the equals or betters of any other outlaw biker gang. In one instance at the end of the '60s, according to a story told by the Bandidos themselves, the Angels tried to set up a Houston chapter. Chambers and a few of his fellow Bandidos went to visit them and suggested they leave. Very shortly afterwards, the Hells Angels did. And Angels don't scare easily.
In 1968, the club began moving their base of operations to Corpus Christi, Texas, which was a larger, more popular resort town. There they found an even greater pool of women to draw from. Women became an integral part of the club structure, though they have never been treated as equals. Even "old ladies," as wives and girlfriends are known, are considered the property of their husbands or boyfriends and will wear patches that make their standing in the club clear. The Bandidos are adept at pimping, but it also uses women as a source of intelligence. Their strippers keep an eye on drug dealing and police presence in clubs; other women might work in government and law enforcement and pass confidential information back to the bikers.
The Bandido drug-distribution network also expanded as the club grew. By 1970, they had around twenty full-patch members in the Corpus Christi area alone, and within the next year, the Long Island chapter of the Pagans Motorcycle Club, having heard about these Texas tough guys, decided to check out the Bandidos firsthand. There are rumours that the Pagans had some intention of patching the Texans over, but apparently the Bandidos had no interest, though they were friendly enough to their northern cousins. At that time the Pagans were not a group to take lightly. Their later failure to expand may have ultimately limited the scope of their influence, but in the 1960s and '70s they were definitely one of the big four clubs, and are still major contenders in the eastern U.S. But powerful and influential as they were, to the boys in Texas they were still carpetbaggers from the north. Southern attitudes were alive and well in the Bandidos psyche, though they didn't let that get in the way of a lucrative relationship.
The Pagans were experienced in the manufacturing of methamphetamine. Lou Dobkins, one of the founders of the club in 1959, was a biochemist at the National Institutes of Health. It was a match made in hell. They shared their manufacturing techniques with the Bandidos and, in return, the Bandidos supplied the Pagans with girls for their strip clubs. A brotherhood patch was made to seal the friendship, combining the "Zutar," the Pagans' symbol, with the Fat Mexican.
On a later visit, however, some Pagans stole money and drugs from the Bandidos. This reinforced the Bandido belief that Yankees were not to be trusted; the two clubs have not gotten along since, though there are signs that they have recently put aside their differences to unite against the Hells Angels. In 1977, two members of the Bandidos executed a prospect for the Pagans simply because he was wearing Pagan colours on what they considered Bandidos turf. According to law-enforcement sources, the order came directly from Ronny Hodge, at that time national president of the Bandidos; no one was ever convicted for this murder.
The Bandidos, like every other outlaw club, claimed from their inception on that they were only about motorcycles, partying and the open road. The facts tell a different story. In 1972, Bandidos Donald Chambers, Jesse Fain "Injun" Deal and "Crazy" Ray Vincente abducted two drug dealers from El Paso, Texas. The dealers— brothers named Marley Leon and Preston LeRay Tarver— had made the mistake of selling the Bandidos some baking soda, claiming it was methamphetamine. The Bandidos first tortured these two for a couple of days, with help from their old ladies, then drove them into the desert north of the city. There, the dealers, who were seventeen and twenty-two years old, were forced to dig their own graves. The bikers then ...
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Book Description Random House Canada, 2009. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110307356604