Department of Justice
For Immediate Release
Detroit One Collaboration Leads To 20 Year Sentence Of Gang Leader For Violent Racketeering-Related Crimes
The collaboration of local, state, and federal law enforcement under the Detroit One program has led to the 20 year sentence of Antonio Clark, a leader within the Traveling Vice Lords gang for attempted murder in aid of racketeering in connection with the shooting of a family of four with an AK-47 in Detroit, Michigan on May 7, 2015.
The announcement was made by Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade of the Eastern District of Michigan, Special Agent in Charge Robin Shoemaker of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Special Agent in Charge David P. Gelios of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Chief James Craig of the Detroit Police Department.
As admitted in the plea agreements, members of the Traveling Vice Lords, acting at the direction of Vice Lord leaders including Antonio Clark, were searching for two brothers who had attempted to leave the gang as part of a plan to “violate” the brothers for their perceived infractions against the gang. The defendants further admitted that, on May 7, 2015, they and others met at a Vice Lord member’s house to discuss their plan and collect firearms, including an AK-47 assault rifle, and then traveled in multiple cars to the intended victims’ house. After a brief confrontation with the brothers’ family members, Clark opened fire with an AK-47, firing at the family more than two dozen times and hitting the brothers, their mother and 15-year-old sister. Fortunately, all of the victims survived the shooting.
Antonio Clark, a/k/a “Cheeto,” 26, of Detroit, pleaded guilty on January 27, to two counts of attempted murder in aid of racketeering and using and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence, in connection with this shooting. Seven other Vice Lord defendants also have pleaded guilty to charges relating to the shooting, including racketeering conspiracy and assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering. Four of the gang members have already been sentenced and received the following terms of imprisonment:
- Aramis Wilson, 25, of Detroit – 12 years, 6 months
- Dion Robinson, 38, of Detroit – 10 years, 1 month
- Jonathan Kinchen, 23, of Detroit – 10 years
- Kojuan Lee, 20, of Detroit – 8 years, 1 month
The federal investigation includes other charges. On May 25, an alleged senior leader of the Traveling Vice Lords, Burney Everett, a/k/a “Tank,” 27, of Detroit, was charged with various offenses, including racketeering conspiracy, attempted murder in aid of racketeering and witness tampering. According to the allegations in the indictment, on May 7, 2015, Everett, who holds the rank of “Three-star Universal Elite” within the gang, instructed Vice Lord members to carry out this shooting, and later plotted with other Vice Lord members to kill witnesses in retaliation for those witnesses providing information to law enforcement authorities about the shooting. A superseding indictment was returned on July 13, charging Jamerio Clark, 28, of Detroit, the brother of Antonio Clark, with witness tampering and obtaining and disclosing private health information to the gang. The private information belonged to potential witnesses and victims, and came from a patient database of a Detroit area medical provider for whom he worked.
According to the indictments in this case, the Vice Lords is a national gang engaged in a variety of crimes, including murder, robbery, narcotics trafficking and witness intimidation. The indictment alleges that the Vice Lords’ leaders are located in both Chicago and Detroit, and that the gang is broken down into various “sets,” “decks,” or “branches,” including the Detroit-based Traveling Vice Lords, Insane Vice Lords, Imperial Insane Vice Lords, Conservative Vice Lords, and Mafia Insane Vice Lords. The indictment further alleges that members who seek to leave or withdraw from the gang oftentimes endure a physical beating, known as a “beat out,” by multiple Vice Lord members, or are targeted for killing, known as a “green light.”
The charges related to the May 7, 2015 shooting are just one component of the federal government’s prosecution of the Vice Lords street gang, which has led to the arrests and convictions of dozens of Vice Lords leaders and members over the last few years. In two trials during March and May 2015, juries convicted eight leaders and members of the Phantom Outlaw Motorcycle Club, many of whom were also leaders and members of the Vice Lords, for various crimes, including a mass murder plot against a rival organization of the Phantoms and the shooting of a member of another rival organization. Among those eight convicted defendants was the national president of the Phantoms and the “three-star general” over all of the Vice Lords in Michigan,
Antonio Johnson, a/k/a MT and Mister Tony, who was sentenced to 35 years in prison on September 8, 2015 after convictions for racketeering conspiracy, murder conspiracy in aid of racketeering, assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, aiding and abetting the use and carry of firearms during and in relation to a crime of violence, and felon in possession of a firearm.
“Because so much of the violence in Detroit is driven by street gangs, we are focusing on dismantling them and prosecuting their leaders,” McQuade said. “The Detroit One partnership brings together various law enforcement organizations to ensure information sharing and coordination so that we can bring strong cases against these violent criminals.”
“Organized drug gangs like the Traveling Vice Lords jeopardize the safety of many in the Detroit community. This significant federal sentence is the result of outstanding work by ATF’s Comprehensive Violence Reduction Partnership (CVRP) and the Detroit One initiative,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Robin Shoemaker, “This investigation is proof, once again, that the Detroit One initiative is making our communities a safer place to live”
"The success in this case is a direct result of the ongoing joint investigative efforts by the FBI, ATF, and our state and local partners. Utilizing the resources associated with the Detroit ONE Initiative, we will remain vigilant in our efforts to keep our neighborhoods and communities safe from the threats that gang violence pose to our citizens", said David P. Gelios, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Detroit Division. "This case exemplifies the power of the Detroit ONE Initiative and what it can accomplish through dynamic law enforcement collaborations."
Detroit One is a collaborative effort between law enforcement and the community to reduce homicide and other violent crime in Detroit. By working collaboratively, local, state, and federal law enforcement is striving to maximize its ability to identify and arrest the persons and groups initiating the violence in Detroit. Since Detroit One started in 2013, this effort has had led to significant indictments, convictions, and sentences against a number of street gangs who are responsible for much of the violent crime in Detroit. Since these collaborative efforts began, Detroit has seen a decrease in the homicide rate from 386 in 2012 to 295 in 2015 and a steady decrease in the overall violent crime rate.
Under the Detroit One Initiative, and through the lead efforts of the ATF’s CVRP Task Force (Comprehensive Violence Reduction Partnership), consisting of representatives of the ATF, Detroit Police Department, Michigan State Police, and Michigan Department of Corrections, and coupled with the efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, law enforcement authorities linked various acts of violence in Detroit to the Vice Lords street gang, and identified the leaders and key members of the gang, who now have been held accountable.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Christopher Graveline and Mark Bilkovic of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan, and Trial Attorney Joseph Wheatley of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section.