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Devils Diciples leader sentenced to life for racketeering, drug trafficking

Detroit — The former national president of the Devils Diciples motorcycle club was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday on charges of racketeering and drug trafficking, officials announced. 

Jeff Garvin Smith, known as “Fat Dog,” 64, of Mount Clemens was sentenced by Judge Robert H. Cleland in Detroit after a having been convicted of several offenses in a six-month jury trial in 2014-15 and a four-month trial that ended in February 2015.

Evidence showed that at Smith’s direction, individuals, including members and associates of the gang, were beaten and robbed, attorney general's office stated.

According to the attorney general's office, in late 1998, Smith shot a Devils Diciples member who failed to abide by the gang’s rules and, in August 2008, he brutally assaulted the girlfriend of another Devils Diciples member because he believed she disrespected him and the gang.

“The life sentence imposed on this defendant is a clear indication of the seriousness of the violence he engaged in and how committed the law enforcement community is to stop this kind of organized violence,” said Special Agent in Charge Timothy R. Slater of the Detroit division of the FBI.

“The FBI, our state and local partners and the U.S. Attorney’s offices across the region will not rest until all who would harm the peace and safety of our residents are brought to justice, regardless of where those threats originate.“

In total, eight members of the Devils Diciples Motorcycle Club were convicted during the two trials, including Smith and Cary Dale Vandiver, known as “Gun Control,” 59, of Sand Mountain, Alabama. Vandiver, the vice president and national warlord, was sentenced to life imprisonment on Nov. 1. 

Methamphetamine cook Patrick Michael McKeoun, known as “Magoo,” 59, of Birmingham, Alabama, was sentenced to 372 months on Nov. 8. Alabama leader, Michael Rich, known as “Tatu,” 62, of Anniston, Alabama was sentenced to 360 months imprisonment on October 26, 2018.

The club members were charged with various criminal acts including racketeering, violent crimes in aid of racketeering, methamphetamine production and trafficking, illegal firearms offenses, obstruction of justice, subornation of perjury and other federal offenses, U.S. States Attorney Matthew Schneider said. 

The case has been notable for the size and scope of crimes allegedly committed by more than 50 gang members charged in federal court — some of whom face up to life in prison for convicted of crimes dating to the early 1990s. It also is notable for the contrast between the government's violent portrait of bikers who after 20 years of alleged criminal activity and cooking methamphetamine, appear paunchy, feeble, or, deathly ill.

More: Aging biker club's trial rolls toward finish

Schneider said the gang avoided prosecution over the years through witness intimidation and obstruction of justice. 

“This brings to a close, in part, the years’ long effort of the federal government to bring down the leadership of a dangerous organized crime biker gang that terrorized innocent victims throughout the United States," Schneider said in a statement. "For over three decades, the Devils Diciples spread fear, violence and their poisonous drugs throughout Michigan and the country."

Four who were found guilty by a jury of engaging in a racketeering conspiracy, methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy, conspiracy to obstruct justice, violent crimes in aid of racketeering are awaiting sentencing.

Those individuals include: National Vice President Paul Anthony Darrah, known as “Pauli,” 54, of Macomb Township and Vincent John Witort, known as “Holiday,” 68, of Fontana, California.

Victor Castano, 46, of St. Clair Shores and David Randy Drozdowski, 42, of Fair Haven, Michigan, were also found guilty in the second trial in late 2015 of racketeering conspiracy and methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy.

Prosecutors say 50 members and associates of the Devil’s Diciples have pleaded guilty to various crimes as result of the federal investigation. Authorities also seized more than 60 firearms and more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition and the dismantling of eight methamphetamine manufacturing laboratories across the country.

The case was investigated by the FBI, the Michigan State Police, the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office and the County of Macomb Enforcement Team, with assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office.