Orange County residents guilty of racketeering
Three Vidor residents have pleaded guilty to federal racketeering charges related to their association with a “white’s only” criminal enterprise that engaged in methamphetamine distribution and murder in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales today.
Juanette Marie Cunningham, a/k/a Netty, 46, Michael Taylor Word, 45, and Erica Nicole Parrott, 27, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine on Sep. 18, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Zack Hawthorn.
Five other defendants, Craig Pipps, a/k/a Lone Wolf, 40, of Vidor; Mikell Allen Cunningham, a/k/a Mikey, 28, of Vidor; Ricky Allen Nichols, 54, of Vidor; Cassi Diane Hetzel, 37, of Silsbee, and Mack Langston Warner, 33, of Silsbee, pleaded guilty to the same charge earlier this week.
The eight were named along with four others in a seven-count superseding indictment that was returned by a federal grand jury on Aug. 7. According to the indictment, Pipps, Kenny Don Stanley, 25, of Vidor; Tanner Lynn Bourque, a/k/a Two Shoes, a/k/a Hitman, 33, of Vidor; Kristopher Leigh Guidry, a/k/a Hollywood, 28, of Vidor; and Vicki Stark-Fitts, 49, of Hull, participated in the operation and management of the “SWS” gang.
According to the indictment, the SWS is a race-based organization operating inside and outside of jails and prisons in Texas and elsewhere. SWS was founded during the 1990s by inmates within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. SWS is also known as “Solid Wood Soldiers” and “Separate White State.” Although the founders established SWS for protection of white inmates and advancement of white supremacy and white separatism, SWS expanded its objectives to include illegal activities for profit, including trafficking methamphetamine and firearms. SWS protects its power, territory, and profits through intimidation and violence, including assaults, robbery, and murder.
According to information presented in court, Pipps used his position as president of SWS to encourage SWS members and associates to enrich SWS through criminal activity including the distribution of methamphetamine. In August 2010, Pipps and Guidry agreed that Guidry, Bourque and other SWS members would raise money for Pipps and SWS through criminal activities including the sale of methamphetamine. The stated goal of the conspiracy was to raise $30,000 so that Pipps and SWS could purchase real property for a “separatist community.” Under the agreement, Pipps was to receive control of the funds upon his impending release from federal prison.
From September 2010 to January 2011, members manufactured “shake and bake” methamphetamine for distribution in Orange County. In February 2011, Bourque, Guidry and other SWS members became closely associated with Stark-Fitts, who supplied them with crystal methamphetamine and firearms. Crystal methamphetamine is a purer form of methamphetamine that is imported from Mexico. According to information presented in court, on Mar. 14, 2011, Stanley, Bourque, Guidrey and Stark-Fitts murdered James Lee Sedtal, a/k/a Lil Bit, in connection with the methamphetamine conspiracy.
The eight defendants pleading guilty this week face up to 40 years in federal prison. Earlier this summer, Stanley, Bourque, and Guidry pleaded guilty to murder in aid of racketeering. In connection with their guilty pleas, Bourque, Guidry, and Stanley admitted that they sought to maintain and increase their position within SWS by murdering Sedtal. Bourque, Guidry, and Stanley face a punishment of life imprisonment. Stark-Fitts pleaded guilty to a racketeering violation and faces up to life in federal prison. Sentencing dates have not been set.
This case is being prosecuted as part of the Project Safe Neighborhoods Time Machine Initiative. Time Machine is aimed at reducing gun and gang violence, deterring illegal possession of guns, ammunition and body armor, and improving the safety of residents in the Eastern District of Texas. Participants in the initiative include community members and organizations as well as federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
The case is being investigated by the ATF, FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Bureau of Prisons, DEA, Texas Rangers, Department of Public Safety CID, Texas Department of Criminal Justice OIG, Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Hardin County Sheriff’s Office, Jasper County Sheriff’s Office, Tyler County Sheriff’s Office, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, and Beaumont Police Department, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John B. Ross.