Vice Lord leader Sterling Rivers, 26, of Lebanon, was sentenced in a U.S. District Court to 28 years in prison, according to David Rivera, U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee.
Rivers, also known as “Little Real,” was sentenced Tuesday for conspiring to distribute large amounts of crack cocaine and cocaine as part of his involvement in the criminal street gang, the Unknown Vice Lords.
In September 2011, Rivers was indicted with 16 others after nearly a two-year investigation into a national street gang, the Vice Lords, which was operating in Wilson and Putnam counties in Tennessee, among others.
“We hope the stiff sentences handed out in the Vice Lord case serve as a deterrent to other violent career criminals,” said Lebanon police Chief Scott Bowen. “We are extremely pleased with the role that the men and women of the Lebanon Police Department played in this case. I truly believe these types of convictions and sentences make our city a safer place.”
Rivers was arrested as a fugitive in Texas in October 2011 after fleeing following his indictment. He represented himself at trial in September 2013, where he was ultimately convicted.
“This sentence reaffirms that drug trafficking and organized crime will result in significant prison sentences,” said Rivera. “This and other recent sentences of gang members should send a clear and convincing message that violent gang activity in this district will be vigorously pursued by the U.S. attorney’s office and our law enforcement partners.”
Rivers’ conviction came after a two-week trial where proof showed Rivers took part in organizing the Vice Lords gang throughout the state and also was involved in a range of other violent crimes, including the robbery of another drug dealer and the shooting of another individual.
All 16 other defendants charged in connection with this investigation were also convicted.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Lebanon Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Tennessee Highway Patrol all helped in conducting this investigation.
Prosecutors for the case were assistant U.S. attorneys Braden H. Boucek and Brent Hannafan.