Organized crime, and the violent crime associated with it, no longer follows the stereotypes of suit and tie Mafioso’s or inner-city thugs. Motorcycle gangs are now becoming primary targets of federal investigations. Last week, federal investigators indicted 41 members of the Devil’s Diciples Motorcycle Club. 31 of the members were arrested here in Michigan and in Alabama. The federal charges ranged from racketeering, drug trafficking, gun possession, obstruction of justice, and illegal gambling. Federal prosecutors have indicted 18 of these members under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act for allegedly conducting an illegal enterprise that included attempted murder, drug trafficking, robbery, and more. During the crack down, police seized over 60 guns, 6,000 rounds of ammunition, and shut down eight methamphetamine labs.
This is not the first time Diciple members have had a run in with federal officers. In 2009, 18 Diciples, including its president, were charged with similar crimes, but the charges were later dropped by the prosecutor. For years, the gang, based out of Clinton Township with alleged operations as far as Arizona and California, has been accused of drug trafficking and illegal gambling. Members have been accused of an attempted kidnapping and murder of several of its own Arizona chapter members for violating the gang’s rules. This time federal prosecutors predictably expect the charges to hold up. Only time will tell.
The RICO Act was originally signed into law in 1970 to curtail organized crime. Instead of simply charging a defendant with the crime they themselves committed, the RICO Act allows prosecutors to charge the person(s) ordering the crime for that very same crime. Under its penalty provisions, those convicted of a RICO violation could serve up to 20 years for each individual conviction.
In order for prosecutors to successfully convict anyone on a RICO violation, they must show a pattern of racketeering that involves two or more racketeering activities within a ten-year span. As defined in U.S. Code 18 U.S.C. § 1961(1), “racketeering activities” include violent crime, such as acts and threats of murder, kidnapping, gambling, arson, robbery, bribery, extortion, witness tampering, and many different kinds of fraud just to name a few. With so many possible RICO violations and so many defendants being charged, many of the 41 Diciple members that were indicted could be facing what would essentially amount to life sentences if convicted of all charges.
If you or someone you love is facing a criminal investigation, or a RICO charge, it is essential to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney serving Detroit, and all of southeast Michigan.