SAN ANTONIO – A quest for power, territory and reputation landed four alleged members of the Bandidos gang in federal court. All of them were charged with the 2006 murder of an Austin man.
Two of the biker gang’s leaders already under federal indictment on charges of murder are now facing new charges.
"Downtown" Johnny Romo, 47, Robert Romo, 45, Jesse James 'Kronic" Benavidez, 40, and Norberto "Hammer" Serna Jr. are all facing a 12-count indictment.
The indictment accuses the men in the killing of a rival biker gang member. The victim, Anthony Benish, was reportedly trying to start a Texas chapter of the Hell's Angels.
The court documents said the men warned Benish to stop recruitment and activities for the Hell's Angels, but he ignored them.
On March 18, 2006, the group murdered him outside an Austin restaurant, authorities said. All four men are now being charged with one count of discharging a firearm during a murder in aid of racketeering. Johnny and Robert Romo are also being charged with murder in aid of racketeering.
Also included in the indictment are the two of the highest ranking members of the Bandidos: national President Jeffrey Fay Pike and Vice President John Xavier Portillo.
Pike and Portillo are accused of directing, sanctioning, approving and permitting members of the Bandidos to carry out acts such as murder, attempted murder, robbery, assault, intimidation, extortion and drug trafficking.
Court records show the Bandidos gang declared it was at war with the Cossacks. A shootout at a Waco bar in 2015 was perhaps the most publicized show of that war. A total of nine bikers were killed.
Pike is currently out on bond. Portillo remains in federal jail. Both are waiting for their trial dates.
The four men charged Thursday face a maximum sentence of life in prison or death, with a $250,000 fine. They were given no bond and are expected back in court on March 7.
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