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Murder-for-Hire

Murder for Hire
Before the Trigger Gets Pulled

05/23/07

Bullet

For a professional hockey player, it was an unusual goal: to knock off your own agent using a paid assassin.

But St. Louis Blues center Mike Danton never got the shot to carry out his plan. The man he tried to hire for the hit contacted us and agreed to document Danton’s plans. After pleading guilty in 2003, Danton is now serving out his seven-year sentence.

It was yet another case of “murder for hire,” one of the FBI’s many longstanding beats. We’ve been in the business at least as far back as Murder Inc., the notorious band of professional hit men who murdered hundreds of people for the mob in the 1930s and ‘40s until being brought down by the FBI and its law enforcement partners. Murder for hire became a specific federal crime in 1958.

Today, we typically work between 70 and 90 cases a year, including 78 in fiscal year 2006. The investigations range from spurned lovers out for revenge to more organized gangs and crime groups that want to take out rivals and snitches.

Our ultimate goal, as in all our work, is prevention: to keep the hits from ever happening. We work most cases jointly with local authorities through our violent crime task forces; we bring to the table the ability to tap into federal racketeering laws as well as our undercover and surveillance capabilities and staple of informants.

Here are a few of our recent murder-for-hire preventions:

1) The plotter: A man from Beverly, Massachusetts
The target:
His estranged wife, 7-year-old daughter, and mother-in-law
The hired gun:
Another man who he met in jail; after both were released, the plotter asked the man or his friend to carry out the crimes.
How we caught him:
The ex-prisoner was troubled by the plan, particularly the murder of the young girl. He told his mother, who called us. He also provided us with a diagram drawn for him by the Massachusetts man showing the wife’s house and location of the bedrooms.
Result:
The plotter was charged in federal court on May 19.

2) The plotter: Devaughan Smith of Kenner, Louisiana
The target:
A fellow drug associate
The hired gun:
Another associate, who was offered crack cocaine to do the job
How we caught him:
The man Smith wanted to hire contacted us; he then worked undercover and recorded Smith talking about the plot.
Result:
Smith was found guilty in March and faces up to 10 years on the charge.

3) The plotter: Paul William Driggers of Idaho
The target:
His ex-wife, who had accused him of child molestation and illegally possessing a gun
The hired gun:
A California man who Driggers invited to Idaho and then offered $10,000 for the murder
How we caught him:
The California man called the Idaho State Police, which contacted us. The man later wore a wire to gather evidence in the case, which was investigated by the multi-agency North Idaho Regional Violent Crime Task Force.
Result:
Driggers was convicted in February.

To read more about our many efforts to address violent crime in local communities, see our Major Thefts/Violent Crime webpage.