By: Julia Deng
MIDLAND - Motorcycle gangs involved in Sunday afternoon's deadly shootout in Waco have also been stirring up trouble in the Permian Basin, according to Midland County Sheriff Gary Painter.
"It could have happened anywhere," he said of the violent brawl that left nine dead and 18 injured at a Twin Peaks restaurant. "I'm very thankful that it wasn't in Midland-Odessa. It doesn't take much to stir them up."
Bikers at Twin Peaks in Waco were photographed wearing clothing associated with the Cossack and Bandido gangs, two rival groups Painter said had been "known to have a long-standing feud."
There was "supposed to be a fight" between the biker gangs several weeks ago in Odessa, he said, but local law enforcement managed to put a prevent any outbreak of violence.
"They stopped it before it got started," Painter told NewsWest 9. "And they did an outstanding job of it."
The Waco brawl reportedly started after an argument over vest patches. Cossacks, Bandidos and members of three other gangs were believed to be involved. Waco Police officials declined to identify them Monday during a press conference.
The U.S. Department of Justice defines the Bandidos as an "Outlaw Motorcycle Gang," or an "organization whose members use their motorcycle club as conduits for criminal enterprises." The Texas Department of Public Safety lists the group as a "Tier 2 gang" - alongside the Bloods and the Crips - in the latest "Texas Gang Threat Assessment" report.
Neither agency had information listed about the Cossacks in publicly accessible gang reports or databases.
"Motorcycle gangs are trying to take over a lot of narcotics trafficking [in Midland-Odessa]," said Painter. "We often stop them and find knives and drugs."
Cossack and Bandido members in the Basin have been caught dealing methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana and prescription pills, he told NewsWest 9, and have feuded over territory "for many years."
According to Department of Justice records, Bandidos are most active in the Pacific, Southeast, Southwest and West Central U.S. Approximately 900 members are divided between 93 chapters nationwide. At least another 1,100 to 1,600 Bandidos can be found in 13 other countries.