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Press Release

Detroit Street Gang Leader Faces Mandatory Life Sentence Following Convictions at Trial for Racketeering and Murder

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Michigan

DETROIT – A federal jury convicted the leader of the “It’s Just Us” (IJU) street gang of racketeering and murder, United States Attorney Dawn N. Ison announced today. These convictions conclude a two-week trial held in Port Huron before U.S. District Judge Robert H. Cleland.

Ison was joined in the announcement by James A. Tarasca, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Detroit resident Duane Peterson, 38, was convicted by the jury on all counts of the indictment, including engaging in a racketeering conspiracy, murder in aid of racketeering, and narcotics trafficking conspiracy involving over one kilogram of heroin. Evidence at trial showed that Peterson led the IJU street gang for years. At its height, IJU membership reached close to 40 members. IJU terrorized the Detroit community from 2014 through the beginning of 2019 by engaging in violent acts—including murder and attempted murder—obstruction of justice, and witness intimidation. IJU also trafficked fentanyl-laced heroin to Jackson, Flint, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio.

Eight defendants were charged in the case. Seven previously pleaded guilty; only Peterson proceeded to trial.

“Today’s verdict sends a message to would-be gang members and violent offenders that we will not tolerate acts of violence in our community,” stated United States Attorney Ison. “This verdict is a result of the collaboration between multiple state, local, and federal law enforcement agencies, and it vindicates our efforts to focus on the most dangerous criminals and their organizations.”

“Duane Peterson was a violent, dangerous man who terrorized the Detroit area for years, trafficking drugs, committing murder, and participating in a number of non-fatal shootings,” said James A. Tarasca, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office. “The actions of Peterson and his associates had a devastating effect on the safety of the community. This case underscores how the FBI and our law enforcement partners work together to target and dismantle violent gangs using our collective resources.”

Peterson is facing a mandatory life sentence for his convictions.

This case was investigated by various federal and state agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, Detroit Police Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was prosecuted by AUSAs Eaton Brown and Maggie Smith.

Updated December 9, 2022