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12 Southeast Texas Residents Arrested on Federal Racketeering Charges
Four defendants face capital murder charges
BEAUMONT, Texas – Twelve Southeast Texas residents have been indicted and arrested in connection with a “white’s only” racketeering enterprise that engaged in methamphetamine distribution and murder in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales today.
The four-count superseding indictment was returned by a federal grand jury on Mar. 7, 2013. Seven of the charged defendants were already in custody and the remaining five were arrested on Mar. 8, 2013. The indictment, which was unsealed today in the Eastern District of Texas, names Kenny Don Stanley, 25, of Vidor, Texas; Tanner Lynn Bourque, a/k/a “Two Shoes,” a/k/a “Hitman,” 33, of Port Arthur, Texas; Kristopher Leigh Guidry, a/k/a “Hollywood,” 28, of Vidor; Vicki Stark-Fitts, 49, of Hull, Texas; Craig Pipps, a/k/a “Lone Wolf,” 40, of Vidor; Erica Nicole Parrott, 27, of Vidor; Ricky Allen Nichols, 54, of Vidor; Michael Taylor Word, 45, of Silsbee, Texas; Juanette Marie Cunningham, a/k/a “Netty,” 46, of Vidor; Mikell Allen Cunningham, a/k/a “Mikey,” 28, of Vidor; Cassi Diane Hetzel, 37, of Silsbee; and Mack Langston Warner, 33, of Silsbee. The indictment alleges that six of the defendants, Stanley, Bourque, Guidry, Stark-Fitts, Pipps, and Mikell Cunningham, participated in the operation and management of the SWS gang. The defendants are scheduled to make initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Zack Hawthorn today.
According to the indictment, SWS is a race-based organization operating inside and outside of jails and prisons, primarily in Texas. SWS was founded during the 1990s by inmates within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. SWS, which was founded as the “Stupid Woods,” is also known as “Solid Wood Soldiers” and “Separate White State.” SWS protects its power, territory, and profits through intimidation and violence, including assaults, robbery, and murder. SWS has a chain of command of president, vice-president, council, major, captain, lieutenant, sergeant, and soldier. SWS members, prospects, and associates refer to the gang as the "wolf pack," “pack,” or "family." The indictment states that SWS has a written constitution and bylaws that outline the duties, responsibilities, and requirements associated with membership. Prospective members, called “prospects,” must be “white” and sponsored by another SWS member. Prospects must serve a probationary period during which their conduct is observed by SWS members. During this period, prospects study and learn the SWS constitution and by-laws and may be required to “work” for the enterprise. “Work” means illegal activity. Prospects are considered part of the SWS family and are therefore subject to the rules and orders of the enterprise, including violent beatings known as “disciplines.” SWS leaders determine if and when a prospect is eligible for initiation into membership. SWS initiation requires a “blood in, blood out” commitment. That is, prospects are subject to a violent beating in order to become a “member.” Members or prospects that leave SWS are likewise subject to a violent beating.
According to the indictment, SWS members, prospects, and associates are required to further SWS goals through criminal activity. Members and prospects are therefore required to commit that they will follow without question any order of SWS leadership. In particular, members and prospects are required, when ordered, to perform violent acts without hesitation. Maintaining power and avoiding loss of stature motivates SWS members, prospects, and associates to commit violent acts against individuals and groups believed to be disrespectful or detrimental to SWS.
The indictment charges four of the defendants, Stanley, Bourque, Guidry, and Stark-Fitts with murder in aid of racketeering. According to the indictment, on Mar. 14, 2011, the four used a firearm to murder James Lee Sedtal, a/k/a “Lil Bit,” in Liberty County, Texas. The indictment alleges that the four murdered Sedtal on behalf of SWS, after Sedtal assaulted Word, an Aryan Brotherhood of Texas (ABT) associate. The indictment states that ABT was poised to retaliate against SWS, and Bourque, Guidry, Stanley, and Stark-Fitts sought to maintain and increase their position within SWS by murdering Sedtal. If convicted of murder as charged, the defendants each face either life imprisonment or the death penalty. The indictment charges all of the defendants with conspiring to distribute methamphetamine between Sep. 2010 and Mar. 2011. If convicted of the conspiracy charge, the defendants each face from 10 years to life in federal prison.
This case is being prosecuted as part of the Project Safe Neighborhoods Time Machine Initiative. Time Machine is aimed at reducing gun and gang violence, deterring illegal possession of guns, ammunition and body armor, and improving the safety of residents in the Eastern District of Texas. Participants in the initiative include community members and organizations as well as federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
The case is being investigated by the ATF, U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Secret Service, DEA, FBI, U.S. Bureau of Prisons, Texas Rangers, Department of Public Safety CID, Texas Department of Criminal Justice OIG, Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Hardin County Sheriff’s Office, Jasper County Sheriff’s Office, Tyler County Sheriff’s Office, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, the Beaumont Police Department, and the Silsbee Police Department and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John B. Ross.
A grand jury indictment is not evidence of guilt and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.