Sons of Anarchy fans will recognize the scenario: motorcycle club members who make their money by dealing drugs and weapons. But the Colorado Attorney General's Office maintains that the activities of several local Bandidos Motorcycle Club members weren't the stuff of Hollywood fiction. Hence an indictment for alleged meth trafficking and more as investigated in Operation Tick and Flea Collar, a name that references (sort of) the nicknames of two alleged ringleaders: Michael Mensen, nicknamed Bandido Tick, and Philip Duran, aka Bandido Fee, who hasn't been caught at this writing. Photos, video, the indictment and more below.
The Bandidos Motorcycle Club isn't exactly an underground operation. The MC has a website that promotes events across the globe, with the home page linking to news from New Zealand, Germany, Thailand and more. Are all the club's actions illegal? That's questionable -- but law-enforcement agencies have dubbed Bandidos an "outlaw motorcycle gang," and plenty of members here and overseas have been arrested and charged with crimes. Here's how the organization is described in the indictment:
Based on their training and experience, Investigators are aware that the Bandidos Motorcycle Club is a self-styled "one percent" "outlaw" motorcycle gang. The term "one-percenter" reflects the ideology that only one percent of motorcycle riders are "outlaws" involved in criminal activity. The Bandidos are generally known as a criminal organization comprised of more than 2,000 members and associates with chapters throughout the United States and approximately 25 other countries throughout the world. One percent motorcycle gangs, including the Bandidos, have been recognized internationally by law enforcement to be criminal organizations, involved in illegal drug distribution, prostitution and illegal firearms trafficking. Members of these motorcycle gangs are known to use violence and intimidation in furtherance of their endeavors. One percent motorcycle gang members are known to often carry weapons including guns, knives and clubs.
As for the allegations against Duran, Mensen and six other alleged associates -- Lorenzo Sojo, Hugo Vaca, Nicholas Murillo, Julieann "Nicole" Linebarger, Erika Navarrete and Zackaria Bengheshir -- they're shorthanded in the document like so:
The individuals associated with the enterprise had a primary objective and a common purpose to obtain large quantities of illegal controlled substances, including methamphetamine, a Schedule II controlled substance, and to distribute such illegal controlled substances to various customers throughout the Denver Metro and other areas both within and outside of Colorado. A secondary and related objective and common purpose of the criminal enterprise was to collect and transport the proceeds generated from the sale of these illegal controlled substances to the original sources of supply.
In the end, investigators are said to have seized more than two-and-a-half pounds of meth with an estimated street value of $40,000, but they clearly believe this was only the tip of the ice-berg, as it were.
Seven of the eight indictees are in custody, leaving only Duran on the loose. If you have any information about his whereabouts, you're encouraged to phone Metro Gang Task Force Investigator Mohlman at 303-597-5103 or Crime Stoppers, which is offering a reward of up to $2,000 in the case. The Crime Stoppers number is 720-913-STOP (7867).
Here's a look at the men and women hauled in by Operation Tick and Flea Collar.
Continue for photos of others indicted, plus a Bandidos Motorcycle Club documentary centering on the group's activities in Texas and the complete indictment. Continue for photos of others indicted, plus a Bandidos Motorcycle Club documentary centering on the group's activities in Texas and the complete indictment.
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Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.