High bail, prolonged jail for bikers in deadly Texas gang brawl

High bail, prolonged jail for bikers in deadly Texas gang brawl
Waco Police Department photo shows police investigators at the scene at the Twin Peaks Restaurant in Waco, Texas in this images released on May 18, 2015.

AUSTIN, Texas - The bail is beyond reach, the booking process is moving at a snail's pace and the time in jail is likely to be lengthy for the 170 people arrested in connection with the motorcycle gang fight in the Texas city of Waco that left nine dead.

Law enforcement wants gang members to remain behind bars, legal experts said, as they try to find out who did what to whom in a fight among more than 100 bikers. It happened at a Twin Peaks restaurant and spilled into two parking lots, leaving behind a trail of evidence that included blood, guns, knives and chains.

Then there is the matter of searching for outstanding warrants for those being held in the McLennan County jail on US$1 million (S$1.3 m) bonds each on organised crime charges relating to capital murder.

"We do not write US$1 million bonds. In fact, there is not any agency in Waco that will," said Charlie Pickens of Pickens Bail Bonds, conveniently located near the jail.

Those arrested were rounded up at and near the restaurant known for its scantily clad waitresses. Some will face specific charges relating to the violence once police finish what they said would be a time-consuming investigation.

"A US$1 million bail for 170 people is ludicrous on its face," said former Galveston County Assistant District Attorney Michael Haskell said.

"They want the big fish, but obviously they have some minnows in there and it's unfair to them," said Haskell who now practices law in Fort Worth.

Lawyers for those charged were not immediately available for comment. Obtaining information about the people in custody has been arduous, with McLennan County only making public a partial list of the names of those arrested, but not addresses and ages.

Two of the bigger motorcycle gangs involved in the deadly brawl, the Bandidos and the Cossacks, have their own lawyers.

The Bandidos are one of the biggest outlaw motorcycle gangs in the world, suspected of running and producing drugs, the US Justice Department has said.

"Being arrested is part of the job," said Mitchel Roth, a criminologist at Sam Houston State University who specializes in organised crime.

One major problem will be obtaining testimony from witnesses. The gangs have enforcers to keep people silent and as a part of their code, members try to stonewall police.

"The 'no-snitch' policy is very strongly enforced among the biker members," Roth said.

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