Detroit One Collaboration Leads to Lengthy Sentences for Detroit Gang Members
The collaboration of local, state, and federal law enforcement under the Detroit One program continued its aggressive pursuit of local street gangs by obtaining a 30- year sentence for Victor Vasquez, a/k/a “Vic,” a leader of the Latin Count street gang and a 20-year sentence for Michael Gardner, a/k/a "Sosa," a member of the Vice Lord street gang announced Acting United States Attorney Daniel L. Lemisch.
Lemisch was joined in the announcement by David Gelios, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), S. Robin Shoemaker, Special agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Steve Francis, Special Agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and Detroit Police Chief James Craig whose departments led the collaborative investigation into these violent street gangs.
Over the past several years, FBI, ATF, HSI agents, Detroit Police detectives and officers, other law enforcement agents, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, and the United States Attorney’s Office have worked collaboratively to bring to justice members of both of these gangs for their varied criminal misconduct, including murders, racketeering activity, armed robberies, drive-by-shootings, assaults with dangerous weapons and narcotics distribution.
On May 31, 2017, Victor Vasquez, 26, of Detroit, was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison on his conviction for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) conspiracy. As part of his plea to RICO conspiracy, Vasquez took responsibility for causing the death of Mustafa Al-Yasiry at the Big Apple Market in southwest Detroit on April 18, 2014. According to the indictment, several Latin Counts assaulted Al-Yasiry, at Vasquez’s direction, while another Latin Count came up from behind and shot and killed Al-Yasiry. Four other gang members have also pleaded guilty for their roles in this murder.
According to the racketeering indictment, the Latin Counts gang operates in southwest Detroit and the downriver communities of Lincoln Park and Ecorse. The indictment alleges that eleven defendants committed assaults, murder, selling illegal narcotics and stolen firearms, breaking and entering homes and businesses and robbery. The indictment alleges that the gang uses violence to stake out its “turf” and intimidate both rival gang members and the citizens of southwest Detroit.
On June 1, 2017, Michael Gardner, 21, of Detroit and Radcliff, Kentucky, was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison on his convictions for sex trafficking a minor (using force, fraud and coercion) and production of child pornography. Evidence produced during his trial in October 2016 showed that Gardner used violence to force a minor victim to engage in commercial sex acts. Gardner also published explicit photographs of the minor in the prostitution advertisements that he created. Moreover, Gardner used his status as a Vice Lord gang member to intimidate the minor to continue to engage in prostitution and to put her in fear of reporting the activity. These convictions 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 over two dozen Vice Lords leaders and members over the last few years.
These investigations stem from the Detroit One initiative—a combined 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 are striving to maximize their 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, including members of the Latin Counts, Vice Lords, and many others. The current convictions and sentences are a tangible and significant result of this joint effort.
Victor Vasquez was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Matthew Roth, Andrea Hutting, and Louis Crisostomo. Michael Gardner was prosecuted by Sara Woodward and Benjamin Coats.