Struggle between motorcycle gangs rattles New Mexico capital

Struggle between motorcycle gangs rattles New Mexico capital

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SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Police in tourist-friendly Santa Fe, New Mexico, increased patrols and surveillance amid tensions between two motorcycle gangs that sparked a drive-by shooting and a hospital lockdown, authorities said Wednesday.

The measures were ordered after a member of the Vagos Motorcycle Club was shot and wounded while the home of a Bandidos Motorcycle Club member was being riddled with bullets in a drive-by attack, police spokesman Greg Gurule said.

The situation has some residents on edge in the capital of New Mexico, known for its tranquil historic plaza, art galleries and festivals.

"We want to make sure residents (and visitors) feel safe," Gurule said. "We are not going to put up with this."

Authorities say the violence came Saturday night amid an ongoing tuft war between the California-based Vagos and the Texas-founded Bandidos.

A criminal complaint says David Andrew Cordova, 54, and his son David Ray Cordova, 29, fired more than 20 rounds at the home from a pickup truck.

The elder Cordova was wounded in the arm during the incident, but it was unclear who fired the shot, police said.

Santa Fe Police Capt. Robert Vasquez said officers confirmed the elder Cordova is a Vagos member and that a Bandidos member, who has not been named, lives in the house.

The Bandidos member is not cooperating with police, but officers have placed a 24-hour surveillance trailer outside his home, Gurule said.

After being shot, Cordova was taken to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, where a temporary lockdown was ordered when Vagos members crowded the emergency room to visit him.

The tensions in Santa Fe also come as federal authorities are cracking down on the two gangs.

In June, federal authorities arrested 23 Vagos motorcycle club leaders along with members and associates in three states on charges that included murder, racketeering, kidnapping, robbery and assault.

A 12-count indictment alleged the club is a racketeering enterprise with nearly 90 chapters in at least seven countries, including about 50 chapters in California and Nevada.

Acting U.S. Justice Department Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco characterized the indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Nevada as a coordinated takedown of the leadership of a biker organization he blamed for "drug addiction, death and mayhem" in California, Arizona, Hawaii, Oregon and Nevada.

In March, four members of the Bandidos gang were indicted in Texas on charges of conspiring to kill a man who was attempting to launch a Texas chapter of the Hell's Angels.

The FBI says the Vagos are a motorcycle club that began in the late 1960s in California and has since evolved into one of the largest "outlaw motorcycle gang" in the western United States.

The Bandidos, founded in Texas, are known as a criminal organization made up of more than 2,000 members and associates with more than 90 chapters in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and elsewhere, the FBI said.

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