Suspect in Bandidos killing wanted gang leadership: president
Days before his arrest in Winnipeg last week, a former police officer charged in connection with the Bandidos massacre in Ontario left Canada to meet with the international head of the biker gang, CBC News has learned.
Michael Sandham was among three Winnipeggers arrested and charged with eight counts of first-degree murder in connection with the slaying of eight men in Ontario last April.
Jeff Pike, the Texas-based international president of the Bandidos bikers, told CBC he believes Sandham wanted to be more than just president of the Manitoba chapter — he wanted to be president of all the Bandidos in Canada.
Pike didn't know Sandham — or even that a Manitoba chapter of the club existed — until recently, he said. According to Pike, Sandham went to Texas just days before his arrest, to ask for the job.
"They wanted to get things going in Canada, you know," Pike told CBC News by telephone from Houston. "I'm sure he wanted to be president of Canada. Why else would he come down here? Because everybody else was dead."
Pike said he refused to meet face-to-face with Sandham because the Bandidos learned he was a former police officer, and the outlaw gang has had bad experiences in the past with members who were police officers.
Sandham was a police officer in the rural municipality of East St. Paul from June 2000 to October 2002. He also worked for Prairie Bylaw Enforcement, a company that provided policing services to rural municipalities and small towns in southern Manitoba.
Pike described the Canadian Bandidos as having a rocky relationship with the international leadership of the gang. He said he cut off the Canadian chapter over the winter because they didn't communicate enough with him.
"I sent an e-mail — this was December or the beginning of January — and I cancelled all the charters in Canada," he said. "It was the only way I could get their attention. And I said, 'Well, if you guys don't want to be part of the club, if you don't want to communicate with the United States, then the hell with you and you go do something else.'"
Pike said he eventually patched things up with the members in Ontario.
"We pretty much settled everything … and everything was cool for about a month or so, and then I didn't hear from them anymore, and then the next thing I know, they're all dead," he said.
Sandham and two other Winnipeg men — Dwight Mushey, 36, and Marcello Aravena, 30 — have been charged with eight counts of first-degree murder in connection with the Bandidos slayings near London, Ont., in early April.
Police said Mushey and Sandham were full-patch members of the Bandidos, while Aravena was described as a prospective member.
Three Ontarians have also been charged with first-degree murder in a case described by Ontario police as an "internal cleansing" of the biker gang. Two other Ontario residents have been charged with being accessories after the fact.