Detroit – A federal judge on Tuesday sentenced a gang leader who reportedly killed a man in 2017 to defame a fellow gang member to life in prison.
Dwayne Peterson, 37, of Detroit, the leader of This Is Just Us, was convicted in December of murder, racketeering, drug trafficking and other gang-related crimes. US District Judge Robert H. Cleland imposed a mandatory life sentence on Peterson, who operated a four-state heroin and fentanyl operation.
Prosecutors accused Peterson of leading a racketeering conspiracy from 2014-19 that involved dealing in painkillers, fentanyl-laced heroin, cocaine and marijuana, and murders and violent assaults.
“The group boasted 40 members. From 2014 to early 2019, IJU terrorized the Detroit community by engaging in acts of violence, obstruction of justice and intimidation of witnesses,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan said in a press release.
“In May 2017, IJU arrested a 33-year-old Detroit man for defaming an IJU associate,” the release said. “Peterson chased the man down and shot him in the back of the head while he was dead on the ground.”
Prosecutors said Peterson was paid $10,000 to kill 34-year-old bartender Christopher Marsilis outside the BOB’Z Lounge near Harper and Interstate 94. Later, investigators found the gun on the roof of a nearby building. Forensic analysis linked the firearms to ammunition casings found near Marsilis’ body.
The following year, “Peterson and another IJU member opened fire on an innocent car they happened to stop at a red light and saw Peterson beat a woman in a liquor store parking lot,” the release said. “The evidence at trial also showed that Peterson ran a heroin/fentanyl drug conspiracy in which at least fifteen IJU members and associates distributed the deadly drug in Detroit, Jackson, Flint, Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky.”
Seven other defendants were charged in the case, although all others pleaded guilty.
According to the indictment, It’s Just Us, abbreviated as IJU, was founded by the Peterson family in 2014 and operated primarily on Detroit’s east side. Prosecutors said the group was also known as 458, Young N Turnt, 25 and the Block Kings, or BK.
“Thanks to the combined efforts of federal, state and local agencies, a violent gang leader has been permanently removed from the streets. Violent gang activity and dangerous drug trafficking will not be tolerated in our community,” said the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Dawn. Jesus in the statement.
James Taraska, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office, added: “Violent street gangs like the IJU threaten the safety and security of everyone in our community. The FBI, along with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies across the country, target and continues to dismantle the gangs that wreak havoc in our neighborhoods.”
According to the release, the FBI was assisted in the investigation by the US Drug Enforcement Agency, the Detroit Police Department, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and other state and local agencies in Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky.