Friday, June 30, 2017

Wildboys Gang Member Convicted for Violent Crime in Aid of Racketeering and Related Firearm Offense

A federal jury in Charleston, South Carolina, yesterday convicted a member of the Wildboys gang of attempted murder in aid of racketeering and discharge of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, announced Acting Assistant Attorney Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Special Agent in Charge C.J. Hyman of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Charlotte, North Carolina Field Division; Solicitor Duffie Stone of the 14th Judicial Circuit; Solicitor David Pascoe of the First Circuit; Sheriff R.A. Strickland of the Colleton County, South Carolina Sheriff’s Office; Chief Wade Marvin of the Walterboro, South Carolina Police Department; Sheriff Al Cannon, Jr. of the Charleston County, South Carolina Sheriff’s Office; Sheriff L. C. Knight of the Dorchester County, South Carolina Sheriff’s Office; Chief Jon Rogers of the Summerville, South Carolina Police Department; Director Jerry Adger of the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services; and Chief Mark Keel of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.

Devin Brown, aka “Deno Badazz,” 23, of Walterboro, S.C., was convicted of violent crime in aid of racketeering activity and discharge of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence as a result of his involvement in the April 7, 2015, attempted murder of individuals believed to be rival gang members. Brown faces a minimum mandatory term of 10 years in prison on the firearms charge.

According to evidence presented at trial, the defendant was a member of the Wildboys, a violent street gang from the Green Pond area of Walterboro, S.C. Evidence at trial showed that beginning as early as 2012, Wildboys gang members engaged in racketeering activity, to include an April 9, 2012, robbery in Walterboro, and a March 18, 2015, attempted murder in Summerville, S.C.  

Evidence presented at trial also showed that Brown, along with two other members of the Wildboys, committed racketeering acts, including the April 7, 2015 shooting at the home of a rival gang member in the Dooley Hill area of Walterboro. According to the trial evidence, on that date, Brown and two other members of the Wildboys drove past the home of the rival gang members and used assault-type firearms to shoot into the home. An innocent bystander inside the home was shot and injured, the evidence showed.

Four individuals previously pleaded guilty to violent crime in aid of racketeering related to their involvement in the Wildboys gang. On June 2, 2017, U.S. District Judge Richard M. Gergel of the District of South Carolina sentenced Wildboys members and associates Kelvin Mitchell, Damien Robinson, and Brian Manigo for their roles in gang-related racketeering activities. Sentencing is pending for Wildboys member Joshua Manigault.

The case was investigated by the ATF, Charleston, South Carolina, in partnership with the Walterboro Police Department; Colleton County Sheriff’s Office; Charleston County Sheriff’s Office; Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office; Summerville Police Department; Fourteenth Judicial Circuit Solicitor’s Office; First Judicial Circuit Solicitor’s Office; South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services; and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.

The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Leshia Lee-Dixon of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Tameaka A. Legette, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney from the Fourteenth Judicial Circuit Solicitor’s Office, Bluffton, South Carolina.

Eleven Alleged Members of Gangster Disciples Indicted in Racketeering and Drug Conspiracy Alleged Racketeering Acts Include Multiple Murders and Drug Trafficking

A federal grand jury in Nashville, Tenn., yesterday returned a 40-count indictment charging 11 members of the Gangster Disciples gang with conspiring to participate in a racketeering enterprise that included multiple murders, including the murder of a witness; a drug distribution conspiracy; and multiple other crimes of violence in aid of racketeering as well as firearms and drug crimes. Earlier today, federal, state and local law enforcement officers orchestrated a coordinated takedown resulting in numerous arrests in Tennessee, Kentucky and Florida. Attorney General Jeff Sessions of the Justice Department; Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Acting U.S. Attorney Jack Smith of the Middle District of Tennessee; Special Agent in Charge Steve Gerido of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); and Director Mark Gwyn of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) made the announcement.

“The Gangster Disciples have been a menace to law-abiding Americans for more than 40 years and remain a threat in 35 states today,” said Attorney General Sessions. “This gang sells dangerous drugs and has taken innocent lives. The Department of Justice is making combating violent gangs like this one a high priority, and today we take another major step toward taking them off our streets for good. I want to thank the dedicated federal prosecutors who brought this case, and I especially want to thank the 10 law enforcement agencies from the state, local, and federal levels who took part in this investigation.”

“The charges in this case encompass conduct dating back over a decade,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Smith. “In bringing these charges, we have sought to hold accountable those who have played a central role in gang violence and whose criminal activity has too often disrupted the peace and harmony of our communities. Our work is not done and this prosecution is the next step in what will be a sustained effort to dismantle the Gangster Disciples organization in Middle Tennessee.”

“ATF’s priority of reducing firearms violence is evident with the recent enforcement operation,” said Special Agent in Charge Gerido. “The collective resources of our law enforcement partners, combined with support from the community, results in a safer environment for the public.”

“Having the support and cooperation of our partner local, state and federal agencies is critical to ensuring that we work together to protect Tennesseans from violent individuals such as these,” said Director Gwyn. “Gang members who commit such violent acts, as alleged here, have no place in our communities, and we will continue to work together to bring such bad actors to justice.”

According to the indictment, the defendants conspired to participate in the affairs of the Gangster Disciples, a violent criminal gang founded in Chicago and now active in numerous states across the U.S., including Tennessee. The indictment alleges that the Gangster Disciples are highly organized, operating under the national leadership of a corporate board-style group, who is responsible for decisions for the gang at a national level, and the state and regional leadership of “governors” and other subordinate gang members, who are responsible for the gang’s activities in specific geographic regions. As set forth in the indictment, in middle Tennessee, the Gangster Disciples generally recruited members from a local neighborhood or from within jail or prison.

According to the allegations, the defendants conspired to enrich, promote and enhance the gang; to preserve and protect its power, territory, and operations through acts and threats of violence, including murder, assault, intimidation of witnesses and victims; and to provide support to gang members charged with, or incarcerated for, gang-related or other criminal activities.

For example, among other crimes, the indictment alleges that on Jan. 6, 2012, Gangster Disciples member Brandon Durell Hardison, 31, of Madison, Tenn., murdered a Gangster Disciples associate. That same date, Hardison also murdered the associate’s girlfriend, who was a witness to the murder, then enlisted other Gangster Disciples members to dispose of the murder weapon, according to the allegations. The indictment alleges that Hardison committed these murders for the purpose of maintaining and increasing his position in the Gangster Disciples.

Gangster Disciples members were also responsible for attacks on rival gangs, according to the allegations. For example, the indictment alleges that on Nov. 3, 2012, Hardison; Maurice Duncan Burks, 31, of Hopkinsville, Tenn.; Marcus Termaine Darden, 38, of Guthrie, Ky.; and Xavier Raphael Jenkins, 29, of Clarksville, Tenn., plotted to assault members of the Bloods gang. Thereafter, according to the allegations, Hardison and Jenkins assaulted, and Burks shot and killed, a member of the Bloods gang inside a nightclub in Clarksville, Tenn.

Additionally, the indictment alleges that in August 2014, Lamar Andre Warfield, 28, of Guthrie, Ky.; Derrick Lamar Kilgore, 32, of Clarksville, Tenn.; and Lawrence Mitchell, 33, of Clarksville, Tenn. conspired to murder members of the rival Vice Lords gang, resulting in the shooting of four individuals in Clarksville, Tenn. The indictment also alleges that in a separate crime in December 2014, DeCarlos Titington, 41, of Clarksville, Tenn., shot at and attempted to murder two Vice Lords gang members. Both Vice Lords shootings were for the purpose of maintaining and increasing the defendants’ position in the Gangster Disciples, according to the allegations.

The indictment also contains forfeiture allegations. According to the allegations, the government seeks to forfeit any proceeds and property, including but not limited to a money judgment, representing all or part of the gross proceeds obtained as a result of the alleged crimes.

The indictment names the following defendants in the RICO conspiracy: Darden; Burks, Hardison; Warfield; Kilgore; Titington; Mitchell; Elance Justin Lucas, 27, of Guthrie, Ky.; and Lorenzo Cortez Brown, 31, of Murfreesboro, Tenn.

The indictment also names Darden, Burks, Warfield, Kilgore, Lucas, Titington, Mitchell, Brown, as well as Rex Andrew Whitlock, 32, of Clarksville, Tenn., in the drug distribution conspiracy.

In addition to the RICO and drug distribution conspiracies, the indictment charges Hardison with two counts of murder in aid of racketeering, related firearms crimes, and witness tampering, and Burks with murder in aid of racketeering and related firearms crimes. Warfield, Kilgore, Mitchell and Titington are charged with conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder and assault in aid of racketeering, and related firearms charges, which stem from shootings of rival gang members. Darden, Kilgore, Brown and Titington are also charged with drug distribution offenses.

The charges and allegations in the indictment are merely accusations, and all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

This investigation was conducted by the ATF; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the TBI; the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office; the Clarksville Police Department; the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office; the Murfreesboro Police Department; the Gallatin Police Department; the Kentucky State Police; the 19th Judicial District Drug Task Force; and the Hopkinsville, Kentucky Police Department. Trial Attorney Ivana Nizich of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ben Schrader are prosecuting the case.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Justice Department Secures the Denaturalization of a Repeat Child Sex Abuser

On June 27, Judge Vanessa D. Gilmore of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas entered an order that revoked the naturalized U.S. citizenship of a child sex abuser, restrained and enjoined him from claiming any rights, privileges, or advantages of U.S. citizenship, and ordered him to immediately surrender and deliver his Certificate of Naturalization and any other indicia of U.S. citizenship to federal authorities, the Justice Department announced.

“The Justice Department is committed to preserving the integrity of our nation’s immigration system,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “We will aggressively pursue denaturalization in cases where individuals lie on their naturalization applications, especially in a circumstance like this one, which involved a child sex abuser. Civil denaturalization cases are an important law enforcement tool for protecting the public, including our children.”

Jose Arizmendi, 54, a native of Mexico, pleaded guilty in April 1996 to aggravated sexual assault of a child in the District Court of Harris County, Texas. When Arizmendi applied for naturalized citizenship later that month and again when he was interviewed in connection with his application in October 1996, he answered “no” when asked if he had “ever been arrested, cited, charged, indicted, convicted, fined, or imprisoned for breaking or violating any law or ordinance excluding traffic regulations.” Relying on this answer, the U.S. government granted his naturalization application and Arizmendi became a U.S. citizen later that year. When the Department of Justice filed a complaint in federal court to initiate denaturalization proceedings in February 2015, Arizmendi was serving an 18-year prison sentence in Mexico for a separate sex offense of rape that he committed in that country.

To perfect service of process on Arizmendi and bring him within the jurisdiction of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, the Department’s trial team invoked the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters, commonly referred to as the “Hague Service Convention,” with the Mexican government to serve the complaint on Arizmendi in a Mexican prison. Judge Gilmore ruled that Arizmendi’s Texas conviction precluded him from demonstrating the requisite good moral character he needed to qualify for U.S. citizenship at the time he naturalized. Judge Gilmore also ruled that he did not meet the requirements for naturalization and unlawfully procured his citizenship because he concealed his conviction from federal immigration authorities.

“Applications for naturalization must be candid with all material facts,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez for the Southern District of Texas. “Like in this case, failing to disclose material data should result in denaturalization.”

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and the Civil Division’s Office of Immigration Litigation, District Court Section (OIL-DCS) conducted the investigation. Trial Attorney Troy Liggett of OIL-DCS’s National Security and Affirmative Litigation Unit and Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Goldman of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas jointly prosecuted the case with support from Paralegal Specialist Judith Cardona.