As promised, an estimated 600 members of the Bandidos Motorcycle Club roared into Moab, Utah this weekend for its annual gathering. They will remain in town until Monday. Full story published August 23rd, 2008 by the Salt Lake Tribune. Previous post HERE.
The Bandidos chowed down and slaked their thirst at several local establishments. Along with other tourists, they took in some scenery along the Colorado River. And, according to Grand County Sheriff James Nyland, it all went off without incident, save a traffic stop or two.
The Bandidos, who number about 2,500 nationwide, say they're regular people who just happen to belong to a motorcycle club. And they complain about the bum wrap from law enforcement officials who have labeled them an "outlaw motorcycle gang". Nevertheless, when the media offered them the opportunity to set the record straight, most demurred, saying that the media has made them out to be "the boogie man".
According to former Bandido Edward Winterhalder, the motorcycle club is secretive by design. "Never give out any information about the club itself to outsiders," he writes in his book, "Out In Bad Standings". And he adds, "Don't get overly friendly with someone who is not a regular acquaintance of the club".
In 2006, the national president of the Bandidos, George Wegers, 55, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit racketeering, under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. He was sentenced to 20 months in jail. Federal officials say some club members have been involved in drug trafficking, extortion and witness tampering.
Moab officials are receiving outside help. Not only did they receive $55,000 from the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice for additional law enforcement, but additional out-of-town cops are present. The Grand County Sheriff's Office even established a command post on Kane Creek Road west of town, two miles from a private campground the motorcycle club reserved for its annual get-together. The sheriff credited the heavy presence of law enforcement with keeping things quiet.
And it was quiet enough that when a private aircraft crashed on takeoff out of Moab's Canyonlands Field Airport, killing all 10 passengers aboard, the cops were able to immediately release a Utah Highway Patrol helicopter with two detectives to go to the crash scene. More on this story, with video, from KSL Channel 5.
But at Frankie D's, a private club that put out a "Bikers Welcome" banner, there was no need for paranoia. "Everyone was apprehensive and one bar even closed while the Bandidos are in town," said Su Dudenhofer, who owns the club with her husband, Frankie. "But they've been no trouble at all. They've been a lot more civil than our regular customers." The Bandido gathering has been good for business, added Frankie. "I welcomed them to my club. And they've been very gracious and thankful".
One person posting a comment to the Tribune story also said the Bandidos are good tippers, too.