Feds indict 40 Vice Lord gang members to combat growing crime in Detroit (2024)

Tresa Baldas|Detroit Free Press

Saying Detroit's violent crime is out of control again, the federal government on Thursday announced the indictment of 40 alleged gang members wanted for everything from robbery and ordering hits on prisoners to unlawful gun possession and murder.

According to the120-page indictment, the defendants belong to the Almighty Vice Lord Nation gang, which authorities say has been funneling drugs across the country for decades while instilling fear in anyone who tries to stop them.

"This group is notoriously violent,"Detroit's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) chief James Deir said at a Thursday news conference, which he used to address a touchy subject for law enforcement: the defund-the-police movement.

"There's a narrative out there ... with defunding the police," Deir said,stressing that violent crime is alarmingly high in Detroit again, and that the city needs the feds and local police working together.

"Homicides and are up 47.7% —that is significant. That is why we are here today," said Deir, who cited the gang member arrests as proof that federal law enforcement is crucial in Detroit.

"This group of individuals —they’re no strangers to law enforcement.Collectively, they have been involved in 365 separate felony arrests," Deir said of the 40 alleged gang members.

According to Deir, nonfatal shootings are up 87% in Detroit over the last two years; homicides are up 47% from 2019 when violent crime had reached record lows.

"We are committed to supplying resources to this city so that people don’t have to worry about a stray bullet hitting them," said Deir, warning more arrests are in the pipeline. "Thisinvestigation is the first of several to follow in the coming months."

Among those indicted isalleged Michigan gang leader Kevin "Spaghetti" Fordham of Detroit, who authorities said has no prior felony convictions. That's part of how the gang operates, they explained: levels of protection are offered for the higher-ranking players so they are shielded from law enforcement.

Deir warned that as summer approaches and gun violence likely increases, Detroit police and federal law enforcement agencies will be working together to identify and disrupt groups that engage in gun violence.

"This team is puttingevery trigger-puller in the city of Detroit on notice," Deir said. "Far too many people have died. ... It's got to end."

Ofthe 40 alleged gang members named in the indictment, 38 are in custody; two remain on the loose, including one alleged killer.

According to the indictment, theVice Lords group is a national gangthat was founded in Chicago in the 1960s. For years, this grouphas engaged in high-level drug trafficking involving cocaine, heroine and fentanyl, among other substances.

The grouphas a five-star symbol and multiple branches, including theInsane Vice Lords,the Mafia Insane Vice Lordsand the Traveling Vice Lords.

Authorities say the gang's main purpose is to sell drugs, protect its turf, provide money to jailed members and preserve its power through fear and intimidation. And it maintains a strong presence within the Michigan Department of Corrections, authorities say.

More: Latin Counts gangster gets 30 years; Vice Lord gets 20 for forcing minor into prostitution

More:How Instagram helped FBI bust smash-and-grab diamond thieves in Detroit

Chicago is considered the "Holy Land" of the group, which is comprised of Kings and Princes who rule, and the so-called Universal Elites, who run sections of a city or area. To get into the gang, one is either brought in through a blessing —a prayer is read —or a beating.

And everyone takes a code of silence.

"An act of treason is punished by no less than a lifetime of misery or death," the indictment states.

Numerous gang members are accused of carrying out different crimes for the organization, including:

  • Arranging for a prisoner to be stabbed in the face.
  • Opening fire on a house oftwo ex-gang members who had cooperated with the feds.
  • Carrying out armed robberies.
  • Selling cocaine, heroin, fentanyl and marijuana on the black market.

Authorities said in addition to arresting dozens of suspects, they also seized numerous guns and large amounts of cocaine, heroin and marijuana.

As Detroit's Interim Police Chief James White put it: "This is only the beginning."

Charged in the indictment are:Kevin Fordham, 51;Martin Murff, 52;Tamar Watkins, 45;Terry Douglas, 41; Eddie Reid, 36;Gregory Johnson, 41;Spoonie Johnson, 46;Kurteiz Thompson, 32;Javon Wilhite, 32;Schuyler Belew Jr., 28;Davun Baskerville, 31;Gary Porter, 38;Lawon Carter, 32;Anthony Reynolds, 36;Jaylin McNeal, 24;Anthony Najera, 33; Naujeh Carter, 28;Tyrone Fisher, 35; Fabian Toodle, 39;Earnest Lee, 39;Delaino Eppenger, 29;Devan Turner-Bankhead, 35;Angelo Hopson, 38; Brandon Thomas, 34;Kenneth Johnson, 35;Winisford Watkins, 40; Anthony Simmons, 32;Anthony Zigler, 42;Shelton Carter, 30;Artise Johnson, 42;Dwayne Parler, 31;Lateef Moore, 48;Charles Douglas, 41;John Johnson, 43;Zanie Taliaferro, 48;Antione Coleman, 42;Harith Hunter, 42;Ondrome Lewis, 26; Rasean Walker, 44;and Darryl Taylor, 54.

Hometowns were not provided.

ContactTresa Baldas: tbaldas@freepress.com

Feds indict 40 Vice Lord gang members to combat growing crime in Detroit (2024)


Are the vice lords in Michigan? ›

Vice Lords convicted of racketeering in latest gang crackdown by feds in Detroit. Detroit — Three members of the Almighty Vice Lord Nation were convicted of federal racketeering charges Wednesday, the latest in a years-long prosecution of a violent street gangs blamed for murder, drugs and other crimes in Detroit.

Who were the Purple Gang in Detroit? ›

The Purple Gang was Detroit's most notorious organized crime gang in the 1920s and 1930s. Led chiefly by the Burnstein (often misspelled Bernstein) brothers Raymond, Joseph, Isadore and Abraham - the Purple Gang was made up of immigrants from Detroit's lower east side.

Are the Vice Lords still around? ›

History: The Vice Lords are the oldest and currently one of the most dominant and organized criminal enterprises in the state of Illinois. Originating in south Chicago, Illinois in 1958 by a group of African American juveniles who had met at the Illinois Training School for Boys in St.

Who were the gangsters in Detroit 1920s? ›

The Purple Gang, also known as the Sugar House Gang, was a criminal mob of bootleggers and hijackers composed predominantly of Jewish gangsters. They operated in Detroit, Michigan, during the 1920s of the Prohibition era and came to be Detroit's dominant criminal gang.

How many Vice Lord members are there? ›

The Almighty Vice Lord Nation (Vice Lords for short, abbreviated AVLN) is the second-largest and one of the oldest street and prison gangs in Chicago, Illinois. Its total membership is estimated to be between 30,000 and 35,000. It is also one of the founding members of the People Nation multi-gang alliance.

Who are Vice Lords allies? ›

In 1978, the El Rukn (now Black P. Stones), Vice Lords and Latin Kings formed an alliance system of their own, and titled it the "People". Jeff Fort of El Rukns, Bobby Gore of the Vice Lords, and Gustavo Colon of the Latin Kings were instrumental in the forming of this alliance.

Who was the most famous Detroit gangster? ›

Tocco had been one of the top leaders of the Eastside gang, along with Joseph Zerilli and Angelo Meli who became underboss and consigliere to Tocco. Tocco's reign as the supreme ruler of the Detroit Mafia lasted roughly five years as he was indicted on tax evasion charges in March 1936.

Did Al Capone live in Michigan? ›

Along with St. Joe and Benton Harbor, Al Capone and his cohorts indulged themselves in Coloma and Berrien Springs. They built houses in New Buffalo and Sawyer Michigan, Grand Haven and Long Beach Indiana.

Who were the three rappers killed Detroit? ›

Nearly a year after the bodies of three rappers were found in a Highland Park apartment building, Michigan State Police have released an update on the case. State police say they have determined that Armani Kelly, Montoya Givens, and Dante Wicker were killed in a gang-related incident.

What is the disrespectful name for Vice Lords? ›

Vicky Lous: Derogatory term to identify the Vice Lords. Five in the sky, six must die: People (nation) in heaven, Folks must die. Six is high, five must die: Folks have the power and will kill the People.

What is the oath of Vice Lord? ›

Vice Lord Oath

In the name of the Almighty, I solemnly swear that I, as a representative of the Almighty Conservative Vice Lord Nation, will not dishonor my most sacred weapon meaning Lord unity, nor under the threat of death willi deny those who stand beside me.

What colors do Vice Lords wear? ›

ALKQN wear the colors black and gold and Vice Lords wear red and gold and sometimes black.

Who was the most ruthless mobster? ›

Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York, U.S. Murder, Inc. U.S. Anastasia was one of the most ruthless and feared organized crime figures in American history; his reputation earned him the nicknames The Earthquake, The One-Man Army, Mad Hatter and Lord High Executioner.

Who was the serial killer in Detroit? ›

'Total systemic breakdown': Missteps over years allowed Detroit serial killer DeAngelo Martin to roam free. The serial killer lured women one by one into vacant homes to be murdered, posing their nude or partially clothed corpses amid cheap booze pints, crumbling sheetrock and hypodermic needles.

Who are the drug brothers in Detroit? ›

The Black Mafia Family (BMF) is a drug trafficking and money laundering organization in the United States. It was founded in 1985, in Southwest Detroit by brothers Demetrius Edward "Big Meech" Flenory and Terry Lee "Southwest Tee" Flenory.

What cities are Vice Lords in? ›

Traveling Vice Lords
  • Almighty Gang (St. Louis, MO, United States)
  • Groovy Gang (Chicago, IL, United States)
  • MVP (Chicago, IL, United States)

Where is Detroit's red zone? ›

The Seven Mile Bloods is an African-American gang based from "the Red Zone" on the East Side of Detroit. Based between Seven Mile and Eight Mile Roads, the gang engaged in drug dealing activities, recording studios, and gang-related murders on their lawless turf.

Where are the Vice Lords from? ›

Discussing the origins of the Vice Lords from 1958 to the 1960's, the authors detail the ways the spontaneous formation of boys in an Illinois reform school evolved into a community organization with multiple sites in Chicago neighborhoods.

Who is the leader of the Bloods? ›

Members range in age from early teens to mid-20s, but some hold leadership positions into their late twenties and occasionally thirties. There is no known national leader of the Bloods but individual Blood sets have a hierarchical leadership structure with identifiable levels of membership.


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