April 12 (UPI) -- A leader of the Vice Lords street gang in Detroit was sentenced to more than 13 years in prison for ordering the attack of two brothers who left the gang.
Burney Everett, 29, known as "Tank" by gang members, ordered members "to search for two brothers who had left or attempted to leave the gang in order to harm them," the U.S. attorney's office said in a release Tuesday.
"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. "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."
Everett pleaded guilty on Oct. 25 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.
In exchange for his guilty pleas, federal prosecutors dismissed more than a dozen other charges, including racketeering, witness tampering and continuing a criminal enterprise. He was sentenced to 162 years in prison.
On May 2015, Everett admitted he directed other members of the Traveling Vice Lords to search for two brothers who had left or attempted to leave the gang. On May 7, 2015, members of the TVL traveled in multiple cars to the intended victims' house. In his own plea, Vice Lords member Antonio Clark admitted 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.
"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," Acting U.S. Attorney Daniel Lemisch said. "We hope Mr. Everett's sentence sends a strong message of deterrence to those who may want to pursue the gang lifestyle."
Eight other gang members have pleaded guilty. Seven sentences range from 36 months to 240 months, and another man is awaiting sentencing. Also, a co-defendant of Everett was sentenced to 48 months in prison for witness tampering by obtaining and disclosing the private health information of the shooting victims and victims' family members to gang member.
Vice Lords is a national gang engaged in crimes and the gang's leaders are located in Chicago and Detroit. The gang is broken down into various "sets," "decks" or "branches," including the Detroit-based Traveling Vice Lords.
The Vice Lords was founded by several youths in 1962 in Chicago with membership between 30,000 and 45,000.
The name "vice" was chosen when a gang founder looked up the term in the dictionary and found the meaning as "having a tight hold," according to the autobiography A Nation of Lords by David Dawley
Detroit One Initiative is a collaborative effort between law enforcement and the community to reduce homicide and other violent crime in Detroit.