National President of the Devils Diciples Motorcycle Gang Sentenced to Life Imprisonment in Connection With Racketeering and Drug-Trafficking Charges
The former National President of the Devils Diciples Motorcycle Club (DDMC), Jeff Garvin Smith, aka “Fat Dog,” 64, of Mt. Clemens, Michigan was sentenced November 13, 2018, to life in prison by the Honorable Judge Robert H. Cleland in Detroit, announced United States Attorney Matthew Schneider.
Schneider was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge Timothy R. Slater, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Detroit Field Office.
Smith’s sentencing arises out of his having been convicted of several offenses after a six-month jury trial in 2014-2015 in federal court in the Eastern District of Michigan. Following a second, four-month trial in 2015, additional members of the Devils Diciples were convicted. In total, eight members of the Devils Diciples Motorcycle Club were convicted during two trials, including the national president (Smith), the national vice president and national warlord, and three others, for their participation in various criminal acts, including RICO, violent crimes in aid of racketeering, methamphetamine production and trafficking, illegal firearms offenses, obstruction of justice, subornation of perjury and other federal offenses.
“This brings to a close, in part, the years’ long effort of the federal government to bring down the leadership of a dangerous organized crime biker gang that terrorized innocent victims throughout the United States. For over three decades, the Devils Diciples spread fear, violence and their poisonous drugs throughout Michigan and the country,” said United States Attorney Matthew Schneider. “The extent of the crimes committed by members of this outlaw motorcycle gang is staggering, and they avoided prosecution over the years through witness intimidation and obstruction of justice at all levels. Very appropriately, the National President of the Devils Diciples will spend the rest of his life in federal prison. These sentencings help secure justice for the communities and all the individuals they harmed.”
“The life sentence imposed on this Defendant is a clear indication of the seriousness of the violence he engaged in and how committed the law enforcement community is to stop this kind of organized violence,” said Special Agent in Charge Timothy R. Slater, Detroit Division of the FBI. “The FBI, our state and local partners and the US Attorney’s offices across the region will not rest until all who would harm the peace and safety of our residents are brought to justice, regardless of where those threats originate.“
In addition to Smith, Devils Diciples National Warlord Cary Dale Vandiver, a/k/a “Gun Control,” 59, of Sand Mountain, Alabama, was sentenced to life imprisonment on November 1, 2018, methamphetamine cook Patrick Michael McKeoun, a/k/a “Magoo,” 59, of Birmingham, Alabama, was sentenced to 372 months on November 8, 2018, and Alabama leader, Michael Rich, a/k/a “Tatu,” 62 of Anniston, Alabama was sentenced to 360 months imprisonment on October 26, 2018.
Awaiting sentencing are four remaining defendants who were found guilty by a jury of engaging in a RICO conspiracy, methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy, conspiracy to obstruct justice, violent crimes in aid of racketeering and various substantive charges. Those individuals include: National Vice President Paul Anthony Darrah, aka “Pauli,” 54, of Macomb Township, Michigan; and “West Cost Boss” Vincent John Witort, a/k/a “Holiday,” 68, of Fontana, California. Victor Castano, 46, of St. Clair Shores, Michigan and David Randy Drozdowski, a/k/a “D,” 42, of Fair Haven, Michigan, were also found guilty in a second trial in late 2015 of engaging in a RICO conspiracy and methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy. Drozdowski was separately found guilty by a jury of committing violent crimes in aid of racketeering and being a felon in possession of ammunition, while Castano was separately found guilty of obstruction of justice and subornation of perjury. The remaining sentencings have been set at later dates before U.S. District Judge Robert H. Cleland of the Eastern District of Michigan.
According to evidence presented at these trials, the Devils Diciples (which is intentionally misspelled) is a motorcycle gang with its national headquarters in Clinton Township, Michigan. For decades, the Devils Diciples operated regional chapters in cities throughout Michigan, Alabama, Arizona, California, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and elsewhere, and engaged in criminal activities to protect the enterprise and for financial gain.
Evidence presented at trial demonstrated that membership in the Devils Diciples is based in part on successful compleion of a probationary period, followed by formal approval by one or more members or leaders. Members, commonly referred to as “full patched members,” are required to own Harley Davidson motorcycles and are required to follow orders from the gang’s leadership, including orders to assault, threaten and intimidate others, to transport and distribute drugs, to lie to law enforcement and to hide or destroy evidence. Members are also required to follow the Devils Diciples by-laws and attend regular meetings referred to as “church.”
According to evidence presented at trial, Smith was the National President and Darrah was the National Vice President of the gang. In those roles, they were responsible for overall management of the activities of the other Devils Diciples members and chapters, including giving final approval to any activity generally affecting the gang as a whole. Vandiver was the National Warlord – or enforcer – of the gang. With other gang members, the leaders also participated directly in criminal activities both for financial gain on behalf of the Devils Diciples, and to protect the gang and its members.
Specifically, the evidence showed that at Smith’s direction, individuals including members and associates of the gang were beaten and robbed, and that Smith also participated in this activity directly. For instance, in late 1998, Smith shot a Devils Diciples member who failed to abide by the gang’s rules. And, in August 2008, Smith brutally assaulted the girlfriend of another Devils Diciples member because he believed she disrespected him and the gang.
Additionally, the evidence showed that Smith possessed state and federal law enforcement manuals regarding outlaw motorcycle gangs marked “For Official Use Only” and “Law Enforcement Sensitive,” and numerous documents related to criminal matters involving members of the Devils Diciples, including police reports, search warrants, affidavits, indictments and witness interview transcripts. The evidence showed that the documents were used for the purposes of counter-surveillance and to identify suspected informants. Suspected informants or members who failed to follow the gang’s rules were frequently thrown out of the gang, or “run down the road.” The evidence showed that when a member was stripped of his membership, the gang seized the member’s property and motorcycle, by violent means if necessary. For instance, the evidence at trial showed that in the mid-1990s, members of the gang murdered a former member for retaking motorcycle after the gang had “run him down the road” and seized his motorcycle.
The other defendants were also full patched members of the gang, who committed several other acts of violence.
For example, in August 2003, Witort and other gang members traveled from California and elsewhere to Arizona where they robbed, kidnapped and attempted to murder members of the gang’s Arizona Chapter for violating the gang’s rules. Inside the Arizona clubhouse, the victims were bound with duct tape and zip ties, and severely beaten with baseball bats, firearms, tasers, knives, and other weapons. The victims’ were stripped of personal possessions, such as phones, wallets, and shoes. They were then loaded into the bed of a pick-up truck, driven out into the desert, beaten further, and dumped into ravines, and left to die. The evidence showed that the beatings were planned by the national leaders, including Witort, and that Smith later congratulated participants, telling him in a letter that the Devils Diciples were “all proud of you.”
Additionally, the evidence demonstrated that in 2012, at a bar in Chesterfield Township, Michigan, Drozdowski and another Devils Diciples member assaulted a man who they mistaken believed to be a rival motorcycle gang member for being present in Devils Diciples territory. The victim was knocked unconscious and suffered multiple fractures to his face and jaw. Drozdowski and the other Devils Diciples member then ripped the leather vest off of the unconscious victim.
In addition to the four trial defendants sentenced recently, over 50 members and associates of the Devil’s Diciples have pleaded guilty to various crimes as result of this investigation. The investigation further resulted in the seizure of more than 60 firearms and more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition and the dismantling of eight methamphetamine manufacturing laboratories across the country.
The case was investigated by the FBI, the Michigan State Police, the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office and the County of Macomb Enforcement Team (COMET), with assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan, and the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section