SANTA FE (KRQE) - With a prediction that a new wave of biker gangs and associated violence headed to New Mexico, a national gang expert is weighing in, saying the problem is bound to get even more dangerous.
That expert, Steve Cook, met with dozens of police officers in Santa Fe on Monday, trying to prepare them for what he says will likely be a big problem.
“This is a serious issue right now,” said Cook, who believes the state’s emerging biker gang problem should be getting a lot of attention. He says many people don’t have a clear understanding of just what exactly biker gangs or outlaw motorcycle gangs are.
Cook is a nationally recognized outlaw motorcycle gang expert who’s made appearances on the History Channel’s series called “Gangland.” He tours the country giving private talks about motorcycle gangs with the Heartland Law Enforcement Training Institute. Cook’s stop in New Mexico was requested by the Santa Fe Police Department as the FBI just recently put out a memo warning the southwest region of a rise in biker gang violence.
“The Bandidos have occupied this area historically, the Vagos are here now. They're very adversarial with one another,” said Cook.
Cook estimates about 100 Bandido members call New Mexico home. He believes about six to eight Vagos are in New Mexico. While publicly no violence has come between the two groups yet, Cook points to a biker-related shooting in Albuquerque in August.
“The incident in Albuquerque, that's not just going to be a singular event,” said Cook.
At least 70 spent bullet casings were found after the shooting. The Black Beret Motorcycle Club believes the Vagos started it.
“Typically where the Vagos go, problems follow,” said Cook.
Teaching officers about gang lingo, patches, presence and more, Cook says it’s not only police who have an obligation to keep these groups from growing, but also everyday citizens.
“Citizens just need to be aware and when they see these individuals out, they need to take note of them and, if appropriate, report it to the local law enforcement,” said Cook.
“All it's going to lead to is more crime and more violence,” said Cook.
Santa Fe Police also invited officers from surrounding states including Texas and Colorado for the motorcycle gang seminar. Cook has been in New Mexico before, giving talks around Artesia and Las Cruces.
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