Bordertown and Bandidos linked
One local business has been closed down for six months, if not permanently, and another has been crippled as three local people were arrested as a part of a county-wide dragnet aimed at the Bandidos motorcycle club.
Blaine native Walter Bail, 48, operator of the Bordertown Tavern for the past four years, was arrested by officers early last Thursday, June 9, at the tavern on suspicion of trafficking methamphetamine. A second individual whose name was not released at the scene was also arrested at the tavern by Whatcom County sheriff’s deputies on drug-related charges.
Bail was released Wednesday, June 15, on his own recognizance pending trial at a future date.
William Edward “Willie” James, 51, of Bellingham, co-owner of a 20-year-old motorcycle repair business called the V-Twin Supermarket that moved from Fairhaven to Custer in 1998, was arrested and charged with trafficking stolen motor vehicle parts. Police documents identify James as the “secretary/treasurer of the Bellingham chapter, Bandidos [motorcycle club].”
The Bordertown Tavern, was closed on an emergency order by the state liquor control board on Monday. Bail was not the actual owner of the business, according to police reports, because under liquor control board rules he was ineligible, although the reports did not specify why. The Liquor Control Board suspension notice posted on the door says in part “…the licensee and/or its employees were selling methamphetamine from the licensed premises and the license did not reflect the true party in interest.”
The V-Twin is still open but is operating without any of its business records or computer, confiscated by arresting officers.
The two were among 26 members and associates of the Bandidos indicted by a federal grand jury in Seattle last week following a two year investigation headed by agents from the federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Two federal indictments issued by the grand jury aimed charges of drug trafficking, racketeering, witness tampering, trafficking in stolen motor vehicle parts and illegal gun sales at the other defendants. During the investigation that led up to the arrests, according to police documents, 14 firearms were sold to or sold by convicted felons.
Federal penalties for these offenses range from terms of 10 years to life.
Nineteen search warrants including those in Blaine and Custer were executed on June 9, in a wide area that included several counties as well as other states, The raids resulted in the arrest of 16 of the suspects plus another three on probable cause for drug charges, according to Doug Whaley, a assistant United States Attorney in Seattle.
James’ partners at the V Twin Supermarket, Allan and Kelly Bell, said the experience of having their business searched and their records and computer confiscated was rough. “We still don’t know why Willie was arrested,” Allan Bell said. “If they think this is a chop shop, they’ll have a rough time proving that,” he said, adding that they’ve scrupulously bent over backwards the 20 years we’ve been doing this to make sure it’s not happening. “Not every motorcycle rider is an outlaw,” he said.
Kelly Bell said that “we’re relying on our customer base to come in, first of all, because we have no record right now of who ordered what parts. We hope they bring their receipts in.”
A 1971 Harley-Davidson, for sale on consignment for $10,000, “can’t be sold now because we don’t have the title,” said Kelly Bell, “they took that too. We don’t know when we’ll get our material back, and this is the busiest time of our year. It’s definitely not a good time for this to happen but we’re here and we’re open for business.”
At a press conference held June 9 much was made of the fact that in taking out most of the Bandido motorcycle club’s Bellingham leadership its international leadership was also decimated. George Wegers, reported owner of the Bellingham Harley-Davidson motorcycle store on State Street, is the international president of the outlaw organization that police documents claim has 168 chapters in 14 countries on three continents with a membership of between two and three thousand white, Hispanic or Asian men.
“The international leadership of the Bandido organization has been operating in Whatcom County with perceived impunity for many years,” said Elfo.
“Hopefully this case will serve to dismantle the Bandido motorcycle organization in our area and will have a significant impact on methamphetamine distribution, thefts, burglaries, crimes of violence and other nefarious activities that plague our community,” Elfo added.