A Canadian murder trial is exposing the international network of the Bandidos, one of North America's most vicious outlaw biker gangs.
Peace Arch Park straddles the Canadian-American border between the province of British Columbia and Washington State, a tribute to lasting peace between Canada and the United States. It was here, authorities believe, that Canadian outlaw bikers in the Bandidos Motorcycle Club hatched the plot that resulted in one of the biggest mass murders in Canadian history.
Experts consider the Bandido organization, or the Bandido Nation, as they call themselves, one of the most threatening organized crime groups in North America. According to law enforcement estimates, there are more than 2,000 members in 210 chapters in 16 countries.
There's a picnic table in the park, located half in Canada and half in the U.S.,, allowing outlaw bikers to meet face-to-face without leaving their countries–convenient for Bandidos whose criminal records and associations don't allow them to cross the border legally, and particularly convenient for the March, 2006 meeting between Bandido member and accused mass murderer Wayne (Weiner) Kellestine of rural Iona Station, Ontario and Peter (Mongo) Price, the American Bandidos national sargento des armas or sergeant-at-arms, whose responsibilities include club discipline, that allegedly set the murder plot in motion.
Mongo Price was certainly easy enough for authorities to spot that day. He stands 6-feet-4, weighs roughly 350 lbs, and has a shock of bright orange dyed hair. Among the other Bandidos at the picnic table that spring day was David (Concrete Dave) Weiche, a member of the Bandidos and the son of Martin Weiche of southern Ontario, a Nazi who has hosted Ku Klux Klan cross-burnings on his 12-acre property.
That picnic table meeting has been of particular interest in an ongoing mass murder trial in London, Ontario, which sits midway between Detroit and Toronto. Kellestine and five others connected by authorities to the Canadian Bandidos each face eight counts of first degree murder for the slaughter of eight members of the Greater Toronto Area Bandidos, who grandly called themselves “The No Surrender Crew.”
Key to the prosecution's case is testimony from a Bandido informer who is now in a witness protection program and can only be identified as “M.H.” He held a shotgun in Kellestine's barn on the night of April 7-8, 2006, when the Toronto Bandidos were shot dead, one-by-one, as the club enacted what M.H. called a “restructuring” plan. M.H. swore that he didn't fire a shot that night, although blood of one of the victims was found on the wooden stock of his shotgun.
No U.S. bikers have been charged in the slaughter, and there is no evidence produced in court to suggest the American Bandidos ordered anyone's murder. Still, the Americans seem to have been prime movers in the events that resulted in what's widely considered the largest one-day bloodletting of outlaw bikers anywhere in the world.
M.H. told the court in open testimony that the word around the Canadian club was that the Americans made it clear during the picnic table summit that they wanted The No Surrender Crew kicked out of the Canadian Bandidos. One of the reasons for the expulsion, he said, was the U.S. biker leadership's frustration with the Canadian Bandidos' predilection for violence. What came across with resounding clarity was that the American bikers at the “Mother Chapter” were above the Canadians in the club hierarchy. In a terse email to the Canadians in June 2006, the world's top Bandido El Presidente Jeff Pike of Texas wrote: “Bandidos don’t vote, they do what the (expletive) they’re told.” It was also painfully evident that the Americans liked to think they were bikers who might commit crimes, while the Canadians acted like gangsters who might ride motorcycles.
The biker turncoat added he heard that Kellestine was appointed Canadian president of the Bandidos at the Peace Arch Park meeting. Expulsion from the club was a fate worse than death for some of the No Surrender Crew. It meant they would be “out bad,” in biker terms. All other outlaw bikers were expected to treat them as if they didn't exist. Enemies from rival clubs could feel free to attack them, without reprisal from the club.
The Ontario court testimony indicated that the accused mass murderers gained absolutely nothing for the carnage. Within two months of the slaughter, the American bikers kicked all of them out of the Bandido organization..
The trial began in March, 2009. Security has been so tight that even lawyers have been checked for concealed weapons. A key name that surfaced in the trial was Bill (Bandido Bill) Sartelle, El Secretario or the top secretary for the Bandido Nation. On November 24, 2004, Sartelle complained in an email to Luis Manny (Chopper, Porkchop) Raposo of the Toronto chapter of the Bandidos, that Canadians seemed to feel they didn't need any direction or contact with their superiors in the organization. “Seems like we have a problem here.” Sartelle wrote.
“You can't come here, we can't come there, but you do not want to answer any questions,” Sartelle continued. “There are issues that need to be resolved. I have made attempts to get these answers, but have not (received any).”
By December 28, 2005, relations had deteriorated even further. In an email to Giovanni (John, Boxer) Muscedere, presidente of the Canadian Bandidos, Sartelle informed him that “It has been decided that due to lack of participation, Canada's Charter is being pulled.”
The Court heard that Kellestine “danced a jig,” prayed and sang “Das Lied der Deutschen” as he acted as executioner of the men he once called brothers, including Muscedere, one of his best friends. Among the other accused killers is a former police officer and Manitoba Bandidos president. According to information produced during the trial, he had been appointed Canadian national secretary at the Peace Arch meeting.
Interestingly, while the Canadian Bandidos had murderous politics, they had no significant criminal enterprises. Trial testimony showed that two of the eight murdered men still lived with their parents at the time of their deaths. Several had troubles paying their cell phone bills and most didn't even own motorcycles.
The trial continues. A verdict is expected in October.
Peter Edwards is a senior crime reporter for The Toronto Star. He is currently working on a book about the Bandidos. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org