SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — It was just over a year ago when law enforcement conducted a raid on a Bandidos motorcycle clubhouse in Rapid City as part of a statewide investigation.
South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation Agent BJ George said he could not provide a specific timeline but said the case would be “presented to the Pennington County State’s Attorney’s Office,” within the next few months.
The DCI will present the evidence and the state’s attorney will determine if it warrants a grand jury. If there is a grand jury it would need to determine there is probable cause for the case to move forward to charges.
“It was a complex investigation,” George said.
The DCI raided the clubhouse on April 28. Search warrants were issued for various locations around the western and eastern part of the state, the South Dakota Attorney General’s Office said on April 28, 2022.
George said the investigation since the raid has included interviews of numerous individuals, including out-of-state interviews.
“A world in which things happen overnight doesn’t happen with electronic data…,” George said. The investigation involved cell phones and computers. “It takes a long time to get (information),” George said.
The DCI also needed to investigate other non-related incidents while it was still investigating the April 28, 2022, raid.
George could not comment on the specifics of the Bandidos case but said that in general, data shows that outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMGs) as law enforcement refers to them, have been involved in illegal activity that can include drugs, guns, prostitution and other crimes.
“We suspect that there is activity that goes on,” George said of OMGs in the state.
Yet, “Just because someone is part of an organization doesn’t mean they are a criminal,” George said.
Overall, OMGs “don’t have a large footprint,” in the state, he said. “If they are involved in illegal activity, it can be hard to detect,” George said.
People can be scared to tell law enforcement about illegal OMG activity, George said. OMGs can have reputations similar to a cartel where a person who talks to law enforcement could end up hurt or dead, George said.
A 1991 report from the California Department of Justice linked the Bandidos to drug trafficking and made note of the Sons of Silence. The Sons of Silence have a presence in South Dakota, George said.
The FBI said in 2011 that the Bandidos are “generally known as a criminal organization.”
The Bandidos are among the five OMGs responsible for the majority of criminal activity linked to OMGs, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. One of the others is the Sons of Silence, which George said also has a presence in South Dakota.
The 2015 FBI gang report said that OMGs may claim that the criminal activity of individuals who may be in an OMG is not directed by the OMG. That 2015 report links OMGs to drug distribution, human trafficking, extortion and other crimes.
Businesses can be a front for illegal OMG activity, according to the FBI. Other research supports the FBI’s findings.
Some common businesses owned by OMGs include construction, tattoo parlor, bar and motorcycle repair, according to the FBI.
The DOJ defines OMGs as organizations whose members use their motorcycle clubs as conduits for criminal enterprises. Often, OMGs may be referred to as 1-percenters or 1%ers which is a reference to an American Motorcycle Association’s comment that 99% of all bikers are law-abiding while 1% are not.
Warm weather brings out motorcycles around the state and the same is true for OMGs. OMG members often wear visible signs of their club membership in a leather vest or denim jacket, George said.
Patches and tattoos are symbols of the OMG.
A 2014 research paper for staff in emergency departments says the patches and clothing and colors are significant to the club and the individual.