The deadly battle for control in Waco, Texas…

Gang violence leapt straight from TV screens to the streets of Waco last week, as the bikers who inspired long-running TV drama Sons Of Anarchy took part in a real-life battle for territory outside a local bar. The fight began as a small fracas in a toilet and became a full-scale onslaught, as gun fire was exchanged between five of Texas’ fiercest biker crews. The end result was nine dead, 18 injured and 192 in custody. This is how it escalated…

Underlying tensions

For years, rival motorcycle gangs have been at each other’s throats for a slice of Texas territory pie. Historically, the state is owned by the Bandidos, who exercise ruthless control over the area and boss the production of cocaine and crystal meth.But like in most walks of life, there is someone looking to muscle in. And in this case, a rival gang – the Cossacks – have looked to start a chapter in Texas. This angered the Bandidos, who demanded payment to allow the Cossacks to display their “bottom rocker” – the jacket patch displaying the area you operate in.

The build-up!

Tensions reached breaking point, and Bandidos leader Curtis Jack Lewis was accused of stabbing two rivals in 2013, which resulted in a series of beatings being dished out. In March, 10 Cossacks members forced a Bandidos rider off the road and set upon him with chains, batons and metal pipes, before stealing his motorcycle. This prompted the Bandidos to hatch a revenge plot and in April, the FBI reported more than 100 Bandidos planned to travel to Odessa, Texas in order to start a war with the local chapter of Cossacks.

The battle of Twin Peaks

On the morning of 17 May, more than 200 rival bikers descended on the Twin Peaks Bar & Grill for a summit to discuss ongoing feuds. Police were informed of the meeting, and were positioned outside – in case of trouble. By 12.15pm, a fracas had broken out in the toilets. Things escalated as the fight spilled onto the streets outside, and bikers set upon one another with knives and chains. Soon shots rang out across the car park, with fire exchanged between chapters and the police. The devastating gun battle left nine bikers dead on the car park, and scores more injured. As the dust settled, the police swooped and made 192 arrests and moved 18 injured bikers to safety, before charging 170 more over their involvement in what local officers described as, “the worst gang violence Texas has seen in 34 years”. With over 100 weapons confiscated, mostly guns and knives but also including AK-47s, the police have the painstaking task of interviewing every person arrested and held in McLennan County Jail – each with a $1m bond placed on their heads…

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