Seven Mile Bloods gang member sentenced to 40 years in prison

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

A longtime leader of the notorious Seven Mile Bloods gang has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for his role in crimes such as attempted murder and racketeering, federal officials announced Wednesday.

Robert Brown, aka “RO," of Warren, had previously been convicted of a RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) conspiracy; attempted murder in aid of racketeering; and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, authorities said in a statement.

Robert Brown.

The 37-year-old's sentence was the latest handed to a member of the east-side Detroit gang that prosecutors have blamed for terrorizing neighbors, fueling the opioid epidemic and killing rivals targeted on Instagram hit lists.

The government's years-long crackdown on violent street gangs in Detroit was chronicled in "Death by Instagram," a serial narrative The Detroit News published the last year.

“Four decades in federal prison without parole is the consequence for gang members who inflict violence, drug dealing and mayhem on our communities,” U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said in a statement. “Michigan has no tolerance for the senseless murders and violence spread by gang members, and that is why we will continue to fight these gangs in court.”

Prosecutors have described Brown as a founding member of the Seven Mile Bloods, which according to the government, participated in more than 14 shootings, at least four homicides, 11 attempted murders and drug crimes that affected life in the gang's home turf, known as "The Red Zone."

Their territory, between Seven Mile and Eight Mile, east of Gratiot and west of Kelly, is in the northeast corner of the 48205 ZIP code. The stretch is so dangerous some locals call it the 4820-Die.

Gang members also have operated a pain-pill pipeline between Detroit and Charleston, West Virginia, the epicenter of the nation's opioid crisis, prosecutors reported.

Brown was convicted last year during a second wave of trials for Seven Mile members of associates.

He was acquitted of two charges, including the murder of Cleo McDougal. The 25-year-old was fatally shot in June 2006 in a killing wrongly blamed on another man who was exonerated after spending more than seven years in prison.

Federal prosecutors have indicted 21 alleged Seven Mile Bloods members and associates, including leader Billy Arnold, who is charged with racketeering conspiracy, two counts of murder and nine counts of attempted murder, and will stand trial in September 2020 in a rare death penalty case.

Last month, a federal judge sentenced Corey Bailey, 31, another founder of the gang, to two life sentences and gave member Arlandis Shy, 30, more than 18 years in federal prison for racketeering conspiracy.

This case was the work of the Detroit One Initiative. Investigators were able to bring together separate probes into various members of the organization and its criminal activities into one encompassing investigation.