Detroit gang leader sentenced to life in prison for murder, drug trafficking

A Detroit gang leader received a life sentence Tuesday for his role in a murder and drug trafficking.

Duane Peterson, 38, was the leader of "It’s Just Us" (IJU), a violent street gang that committed crimes in Detroit from 2014 through the beginning of 2019.

In May 2017, IJU ambushed a 33-year-old Detroit man for allegedly disparaging an IJU associate, authorities said. Peterson chased the man down and shot him in the back of the head while the man was on the ground.

In March 2018, Peterson and another IJU member opened fire on a car full of innocent bystanders who happened to be stopped at a red light and saw Peterson beating a female in a liquor store parking lot.

Authorities said evidence at trial also showed that Peterson ran a heroin and fentanyl drug conspiracy, with at least fifteen IJU members and associates distributing the deadly drugs in Detroit, Jackson, Flint, Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky.

Eight people were charged in the case, and seven previously pleaded guilty. Only Peterson proceeded to trial.

"Thanks to a team effort from multiple federal, state, and local agencies, a violent gang leader has been permanently removed from the streets. Violent gang activity and dangerous narcotics trafficking will not be tolerated in our community," U.S. Attorney Dawn Ison said.