DETROIT (WWJ) – More than three dozen suspected criminals are behind bars, after a roundup of alleged Southwest Detroit gang members.
U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade made the announcement Friday at a news conference with the Detroit One — a multi-agency coalition charged with reducing violent crime by bringing in the worst offenders.
She said the Latin Counts street gang is accused of numerous crimes and criminal enterprises.
“Murder, selling illegal narcotics and stolen firearms, breaking and entering into homes and businesses, and robbery. Those are the kinds of activity that disrupts peaceful neighborhoods; and that’s the kind of activity that we want to stop,” McQuade said.
Five individuals were named in a racketeering indictment, unsealed Friday, alleging violent acts by members of Latin Counts. In addition to the racketeering defendants, two other defendants were arrested today in a separate indictment on charges of being felons in possession of firearms in southwest Detroit.
Twenty-six other defendants were recently charged in an indictment with heroin and cocaine distribution and related firearms offenses. These defendants also operated in southwest Detroit.
The indictment alleges that the gang uses violence to stake out its “turf” and intimidate both rival gang members and the citizens of southwest Detroit.
According to Detroit Police Chief James Craig, the Hispanic gang is made up of mostly 20 to 30 year-old individuals, operating in Detroit as well as the downriver communities of Lincoln Park and Ecorse.
“They have been very active in Southwest Detroit for many years,” said Craig. “This gang has created violence and quality of life issues for residents.”
The chief said the key to busting this gang was keeping his officers aware of how it operates. Craig said that the gang lacks organization, and that lack of structure is helping police to put a stop to members’ activity.
The following people were charged:
– Victor Vasquez, 23, of Detroit, was charged with using and carrying a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence causing death, assault resulting in serious bodily injury in aid of racketeering and assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering;
– Avery Denardis, 20, of Dearborn, was charged with assault resulting in serious bodily injury in aid of racketeering;
– Jeffrey Lunsford, 34, of Ecorse, was charged with assault resulting in serious bodily injury in aid of racketeering;
– Kyle Voltz, 24, of Lincoln Park, was charged with assault resulting in serious bodily injury in aid of racketeering;
– Jacob Hixson, 20, of Detroit, was charged with assault resulting in serious bodily injury in aid of racketeering.
The felon in possession indictment unsealed today charged two additional individuals:
– Tim Galvan, 32, of Detroit, was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm; and
– Luke Reardon, 23, of Detroit, was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.
“Today’s enforcement action is a great example of the impact we can have when federal, state and local law enforcement agencies work together with a united strategy. By arresting and charging individuals who commit violent crimes, we hope to restore peace to our neighborhoods,” McQuade said, in a statement.
Added Paul M. Abbate, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Detroit Field Office, “Combating violent crime remains among the highest priorities for the FBI. There is nothing more important than protecting our communities and keeping law abiding citizens safe. That effort is being waged each and every day by all of our Detroit One partners.”
“It is tremendously important work, and the officers, agents and prosecutors engaged in this effort will continue to fight on behalf of the citizens we serve,” he said.