Criminal Justice News

Friday, May 12, 2017

Five Members of Violent Detroit Street Gang Charged With Racketeering, Narcotics and Firearms Offenses



Five members of a northwest Detroit street gang, Young and Skantless or YNS, have been indicted on various racketeering offenses in a federal superseding indictment unsealed today.  The charges are the result of the Detroit One initiative, a collaborative effort between law enforcement and the community to reduce violent crime 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; and Police Chief James E. Craig of Detroit made the announcement.

The indictment charges five YNS members with a variety of crimes including a murder, robberies that turned into murders, shootings, a home invasion, arson and narcotics distribution.  Specifically:

    Corey Toney, 36, of Detroit, is charged with RICO conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance;
    Edward Tavorn, 30, of Detroit, is charged with RICO conspiracy and felon in possession of a firearm;
    Andre Chattam, 27, of Detroit, is charged with RICO conspiracy, murder in aid of racketeering, and use and carry of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence causing death;
    Kevin Pearson, 25, of Detroit, is charged with RICO conspiracy, murder in aid of racketeering, and use and carry of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence causing death; and
    Sontez Wells, 23, of Detroit, is charged with murder in aid of racketeering, and use and carry of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence causing death.

According to the facts alleged in the indictment, the defendants were members and associates of YNS, a criminal organization that operates in northwest Detroit, specifically the Brightmoor neighborhood.  The indictment alleges that YNS purposefully developed a reputation for ruthless violence in order to facilitate the successful commission of crimes by YNS members and associates.  The indictment further alleges that the gang has become known as the most dangerous group in Brightmoor and one of the most dangerous in the city of Detroit by engaging in various violent acts including: seeking to intimidate, injure and kill rival drug dealers to eliminate competition; attempting to instill fear in the community in order to discourage cooperation with police and witnesses from reporting YNS-related crime; and posting numerous intimidating photographs and videos to social media.

By working collaboratively under the Detroit One program, local, state and federal law enforcement is striving to maximize its ability to identify and arrest the persons and groups initiating the violence in Detroit.  Detroit has seen a reduction in the overall violent crime rate every year since the Detroit One collaboration began in 2013.

The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations.  The defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

This case is being investigated by the ATF’s CVRP Task Force (Comprehensive Violence Reduction Partnership), consisting of representatives of the ATF, Detroit Police Department, Michigan State Police and Michigan Department of Corrections.  The case is being prosecuted by the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Michigan.

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