A leader of the Vice Lords street gang was sentenced today to 162 months in prison for his role in the May 7, 2015, shooting of four members of a family with an AK-47 in Detroit.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Daniel L. Lemisch 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, Special Agent in Charge David P. Gelios of the FBI’s Detroit Division and Chief James Craig of the Detroit Police Department made the announcement.
“Everett controlled the Vice Lords by ordering violent retribution against anyone who crossed him, his revenge had no limits,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Blanco. “I am proud of the unified efforts of our prosecutors and law enforcement partners, including the Detroit One partners, who successfully brought Everett and other Vice Lord members to justice. The Justice Department will continue to work closely and jointly with all of our Federal, state and local law enforcement partners to investigate, prosecute and dismantle violent gangs, like the Vice Lords, wherever they may be present.”
“This conviction and sentence is particularly important since Mr. Everett was a leader of the gang and directed this violence to occur. This lengthy sentence underscores that one does not have to be physically present at a shooting to bear the full brunt of criminal responsibility and punishment,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Lemisch. “We hope Mr. Everett’s sentence sends a strong message of deterrence to those who may want to pursue the gang lifestyle.”
“This sentence is the culmination of countless hours of dedicated work by ATF agents and our law enforcement partners,” said Special Agent in Charge Shoemaker. “ATF will continue to aggressively target and dismantle criminal enterprises threatening the safety of Detroit’s citizens.”
“While gang violence continues to plague the safety and security of our neighborhoods, today’s sentence reflects the continuing impact the Detroit One Initiative is having on the ability of gang members to terrorize our communities,” said Special Agent in Charge Gelios. “Prior to today, defendants in this shooting incident had been sentenced to approximately 80 years collectively in prison. With today’s additional sentence, the message should be clear this collaboration of federal, state and local law enforcement partners is committed to restoring our streets to the law-abiding citizens of Detroit.”
Burney Everett, aka Tank, 27, of Detroit, pleaded guilty on Oct. 25, 2016, before U.S. District Judge David M. Lawson of the Eastern District of Michigan to two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering and one count of use and carry of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.
According to admissions made in connection with Everett’s plea, the Vice Lords is a national gang engaged in a variety of crimes and the gang’s leaders are located in both Chicago and Detroit. The gang is broken down into various “sets,” “decks,” or “branches,” including the Detroit-based Traveling Vice Lords (TVL). The Vice Lords have often targeted members who sought to leave the gang for physical beatings or murder.
Everett admitted that in May 2015, he directed other members of the TVL to search for two brothers who had left or attempted to leave the gang in order to harm them. Everett further admitted that on May 7, 2015, at his direction, members of the TVL traveled in multiple cars to the intended victims’ house. After a brief confrontation with the brothers’ family members, Vice Lords member Antonio Clark admitted in connection with his own plea that he fired an AK-47 23 times, hitting the brothers, their mother and a 15-year-old sister. All of the victims survived the shooting.
All defendants charged for the shooting pleaded to charges related to the shooting. In addition to Everett, eight members and leaders of the TVL, all of Detroit, have pleaded guilty to charges related to the shooting, seven of whom have been sentenced: Antonio Clark, 27, was sentenced to 240 months in prison; Aramis Wilson, 26, was sentenced to 150 months in prison; Dion Robinson, 39, was sentenced to 121 months in prison; Jonathan Kinchen, 24, was sentenced to 120 months in prison; Tyrone Price, 27, sentenced to 140 months in prison; Kojuan Lee, 20, was sentenced to 97 months in prison; and Kirshean Nelson, 20, was sentenced to 36 months in prison. Kenneth Smith, 35, pleaded guilty on Jan. 28, 2016, and awaits sentencing, which has not yet been set. On Jan. 18, 2017, a co-defendant of Everett, Vice Lords associate Jamerio Clark, was sentenced to 48 months in prison for witness tampering by obtaining and disclosing the private health information of the May 7, 2015 shooting victims and victims’ family members to a member of the gang.
The 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.
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 ATF, FBI and Detroit Police Department investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher Graveline and Mark Bilkovic of the Eastern District of Michigan and Trial Attorney Joseph Wheatley of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section prosecuted the case.