Latin Counts members plead guilty to racketeering, face 30 years in prison
By Janae’ Miller
SUN STAFF WRITER
Five members of the Latin Counts street gang recently pled guilty to racketeering conspiracy.
Devin Dantzler, 21, of Ecorse, Victor Vasquez, 26, of Detroit, Jonathan Estrada, 27, of Lincoln Park, Jesus Rodriguez, 25, of Lincoln Park, and Angel Rodriguez, 21, of Lincoln Park each face spending 30 years in prison.
A collaboration of local state and federal law enforcement known as Detroit One led to the members’ arrests.
“By working together, the Detroit One partners are systematically dismantling the street gangs that cause violent crime in our neighborhoods,” said U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade. “We want to take back our streets from violent gangs so that Detroit residents can enjoy the safe quality of life that we all deserve.”
The Latin Counts operate in southwest Detroit, Lincoln Park and Ecorse. They were convicted of committing assaults, murder, trafficking drugs, stealing firearms, and robbing businesses and homes in those areas.
“These guilty pleas demonstrate law enforcement's resolve to stopping the escalating violence linked to gang activity”, stated HSI Acting Special Agent in Charge Steve Francis. "Removing criminal gang members from the streets will ensure that they are no longer in a position to wreak havoc in our neighborhoods and threaten the public's safety."
Dantzler and Victor Vasquez also admitted to killing Mustafa Al-Yasiry at the Big Apple Market in southwest Detroit on April 18, 2014. Al-Yasiry was assaulted by several members then shot and killed by Dantzler.
Estrada and the two Rodriguez brothers also pled guilty to participating in the killing of Terrence McClearen and shooting another victim on August 18, 2013.
“The success of the Detroit One initiative is evident in the continued disruption, arrest and prosecution of these violent gang members in our communities” said Chief James Craig. “The collaboration of law enforcement agencies certainly plays a key role in returning the neighborhoods back to the people.”
Since Detroit One’s launch in 2013, a decrease in criminal activity has occurred. A 20 percent drop in homicides was reported. Non-fatal shootings in Detroit have dropped 25 percent.
"Once again, the Detroit One Initiative and its ongoing dynamic law enforcement collaborations have proven highly effective in combating some of the most violent and heinous criminals in our community”, said David P. Gelios, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Detroit Division. "Success, in these cases, is a direct result of ongoing joint investigative efforts like this led by the FBI’s multi-agency Violent Gang Task Force, which is comprised of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. It is through these joint ventures and the Detroit One Initiative we are routinely and effectively force multiplying by leveraging resources to help keep our neighborhoods and communities safe from the threats gang violence poses to our citizens”.
Gang associate sentenced for disclosing private hospital information of victims and witnesses of gang related shooting
A Detroit man was sentenced to four years in prison last month for witness tampering for disclosing personal identification information of shooting victims and their family members to a leader of a street gang. The case was the result of work by the Detroit One partnership of local, state and federal law enforcement.
The announcement was made by Acting Assistant Attorney General David Bitkower of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade of the Eastern District of Michigan, Special Agent in Charge Robin Shoemaker of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Special Agent in Charge David P. Gelios of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Chief James Craig of the Detroit Police Department.
Jamerio Clark, 28, of Detroit, pleaded guilty on September 27, 2016, to tampering with a witness, victim or informant before U.S. District Judge David M. Lawson in Detroit. He is the eighth person to be sentenced in this case, part of the Detroit One partnership of local, state and federal law enforcement.
According to admissions made by the Vice Lord gang members who have pleaded guilty in this case, the Vice Lords is a national gang engaged in a variety of crimes, and Vice Lords’ leaders are located in both Chicago and Detroit. As admitted in the plea agreements, members of the Vice Lords, including Antonio Clark, were searching for two brothers who had attempted to leave the gang as part of a plan to “violate” the brothers for their perceived infractions against the gang. to admissions, on May 7, 2015, they and others met at a Vice Lord member’s house to discuss their plan and collect firearms, including an AK-47 assault rifle, and then traveled in multiple cars to the intended victims’ house. After a brief confrontation with the brothers’ family members, Antonio Clark opened fire with an AK-47, firing at the family more than two dozen times and hitting the brothers, their mother and 15-year-old sister. All of the victims survived the shooting.
Jamerio Clark admitted that from May 8, 2015, through at least January 2016, he was employed at a medical facility where he had access to a private database that contained personally identifiable health information for anyone who had been treated at a Detroit Medical Center facility. At his brother’s request and while employed at the medical facility, Jamerio Clark accessed this database on at least 15 occasions to search for three Vice Lords shooting victims. According to the plea agreement, Jamerio Clark then provided to Antonio Clark information, including dates of birth, phone numbers, addresses and information pertaining to relatives of these individuals. Jamerio Clark admitted that he knew his brother wanted this information to locate these individuals and prevent them from cooperating in the investigation and prosecution of the shooting.
Seven gang members have already been sentenced in this case and received the following terms of imprisonment:
• Antonio Clark, 27, of Detroit – 20 years
• Aramis Wilson, 26, of Detroit – 12 years, 6 months
•Tyrone Price, 27, of Detroit – 11 years, 8 months
• Dion Robinson, 38, of Detroit – 10 years, 1 month
• Jonathan Kinchen, 24, of Detroit – 10 years
• Kojuan Lee, 20, of Detroit – 8 years, 1 month
• Kirshean Nelson, 20, of Detroit – 3 years
“The Detroit One partners are working to dismantle violent street gangs that commit gun violence because of the harm it causes to our residents and our neighborhoods,” said McQuade. “Our community will not tolerate gun violence as a method to resolve disputes.”
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 the 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.
Another defendant, Burney Everett, 27, of Detroit, is scheduled to be sentenced on February 8, 2017. The sentencing date for the final defendant, Kenneth Smith, has yet been set.
This case is being investigated by the ATF, FBI, and Detroit Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Christopher Graveline and Mark Bilkovic of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan, and Trial Attorney Joseph Wheatley of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section.
Tax preparers asked
to be alert to new
With the individual income tax season kicking off last month, the Michigan Department of Treasury (Treasury) is asking tax preparers to be alert for a new two-part email scheme targeting tax professionals nationwide.
In the two-part scheme, a tax preparer initially receives an email from a potential client asking for services to file taxes. If the preparer responds, the cybercriminal sends a second email with an embedded web address or a PDF attachment with a web address allegedly linking to the taxpayer’s personal information.
In reality, the cybercriminal is collecting the tax preparer’s email address, password and possibly other information. To date, no known Michigan-based tax preparers or tax preparation firms have been victimized through this scheme.
Tax professionals and tax preparation firms are asked to consider creating internal policies or consult security experts on how to address unsolicited emails seeking their services.
As Treasury makes progress in the fight against identify theft, cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated in their efforts to steal additional client information. Criminals need more data in their effort to impersonate clients and file fraudulent returns to claim refunds.
For the 2015 tax year, over 22,100 returns were stopped that prevented more than $11.7 million in potentially fraudulent refunds from being issued by the state of Michigan.
Tax professionals who believe they may be the victim of this phishing scheme should immediately report the incident to local law enforcement and contact Treasury’s Office of Privacy and Security at 517-636-4081.
To learn more about tax preparer security, go to www.irs.gov/protectyourclients.