Vice Lords Leader Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison for Gang-Related Shooting
A leader of the Vice Lords street gang was sentenced today to 20 years in prison for attempted murder in aid of racketeering in connection with the May 7, 2015, shooting of a family of four with an AK-47 in Detroit.
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 (ATF) Detroit Field Division Office, Special Agent in Charge David P. Gelios of the FBI’s Detroit Division and Chief James Craig of the Detroit Police Department made the announcements.
Antonio Clark, aka Cheeto, 26, of Detroit, pleaded guilty on Jan. 27, 2016, to two counts of attempted murder in aid of racketeering and use and carry of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.
According to Clark’s plea agreement, the Vice Lords is a national gang engaged in a variety of crimes, including murder, robbery, narcotics trafficking and witness intimidation. The Vice Lords’ leaders are located in both Chicago and Detroit, and 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. Clark admitted that members who seek to leave the gang oftentimes endure a physical beating, known as a “beat out,” by multiple Vice Lords members, or are targeted for killing, known as a “green light.”
Clark admitted that in May 2015, he and other members of the Vice Lords were searching for two brothers who had left or attempted to leave the gang. According to the plea agreement and sentencing documents, Clark and at least eight other Vice Lords met on May 7, 2015, to discuss a plan of action and Clark brought a loaded AK-47 to the meeting. Clark admitted that later that day, he and other Vice Lords traveled to the intended victims’ house in broad daylight. According to sentencing documents, Clark fired the AK-47 23 times, hitting the brothers, their mother and a 15-year-old sister. In addition, sentencing documents reflect that a five-year-old boy was present but not shot. All of the victims survived the shooting.
Seven other Vice Lords defendants also have pleaded guilty to charges relating to the shooting, four of whom have been sentenced: Aramis Wilson, 25, of Detroit, was sentenced to 150 months in prison; Dion Robinson, 38, of Detroit, was sentenced to 121 months in prison; Jonathan Kinchen, 23, of Detroit, was sentenced to 120 months in prison; and Kojuan Lee, 20, of Detroit, was sentenced to 97 months in prison.
The charges and convictions 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 and the shooting of a member of another rival organization. Among those convicted was Antonio Johnson, aka MT and Mister Tony, the National President of the Phantoms and the Three-Star General over all of the Vice Lords in Michigan. On Sept. 8, 2015, Johnson was sentenced to 35 years in prison 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.
The arrests and convictions in this case are, in part, the result of the Detroit One Initiative, a collaborative effort between law enforcement and the community to reduce homicide and other violent crime in Detroit. Through the lead efforts of the Comprehensive Violence Reduction Partnership Task Force, which consists of representatives of the ATF, Detroit Police Department, Michigan State Police, Michigan Department of Corrections and FBI, 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 charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations. The defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
The ATF, FBI and Detroit Police Department are investigating the case. Trial Attorney Joseph Wheatley of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher Graveline and Mark Bilkovic of the Eastern District of Michigan are prosecuting the case.