Nine Alleged Members of Hobos Street Gang Indicted in RICO Conspiracy for Murders and Other Violent, Drug-Related Crimes
|U.S. Attorney’s Office September 26, 2013|
CHICAGO—Nine defendants who allegedly directed or participated in a violent, drug trafficking street gang known as the Hobos were charged today in a federal racketeering conspiracy (RICO) indictment with engaging in murders, attempted murders, robberies, and narcotics distribution. The five-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury alleges five murders, solicitation of a sixth murder, four attempted murders, three robberies, and the operation of “drug spots” and “drug lines” on the city’s south side among a pattern of criminal activity between 2004 and 2009.
Four of the defendants are charged with personally shooting to death five victims between 2006 and 2009, including one victim who was allegedly killed because he was cooperating with law enforcement.
The indictment charges that the Hobos Enterprise allegedly used violence to enrich its members and their associates; to promote and enhance the criminal enterprise; to preserve and protect its power, territory, operations, and proceeds; to keep victims and witnesses in fear; and to prevent law enforcement from detecting its crimes.
“The indictment portrays a gang with virtually no restraint on its ruthless use of violence to further its goals,” said Gary S. Shapiro, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. “The gang’s alleged murders, robberies, and drug dealing invited our employing the federal racketeering laws to prosecute the full scope of their crimes, some extending beyond the normal statute of limitations; and, if convicted, to bring the most severe federal sentences to bear for the terror that plagued the blocks and street corners they allegedly controlled.” The investigation is continuing, Mr. Shapiro added.
“This RICO indictment is the result of a long-term commitment we share with our law enforcement partners to address the dangerous threats facing our communities today. This investigation targeted an exceptionally violent group that used murder, threats, and intimidation to further their agenda. The charges demonstrate our focus and determination to strike at gang-related criminal enterprises and to eliminate the terror these groups inflict on our neighborhoods,” said Robert J. Shields, Jr., Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“Through the work of Chicago Police officers and our gang investigators, in close partnership with the FBI, IRS, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, we are able to announce federal RICO charges against nine dangerous members of the Hobos gang,” said Chicago Police Superintendent Garry F. McCarthy. “Today’s announcement should serve as a warning―we do not and we will not accept violence in our communities or in our neighborhoods. And we will do everything in our power to hold dangerous criminals accountable for the crimes they commit,” he added.
“Today’s indictment sends a loud message that we are committed to our law enforcement partners and the communities in which we live,” said James C. Lee, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago. “Gang activity and criminal enterprises thrive on financial gain and perpetuate criminal violence on our streets. IRS-Criminal Investigation brings its financial expertise to an investigation, and we are privileged to be working with the Chicago Police Department and other federal law enforcement partners to keep our communities safe.”
The Illinois Department of Corrections also participated in the investigation. The Chicago Police Department initiated the investigation, which the federal agencies joined later under the umbrella of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) and the Chicago High Intensity Drug Task Force (HIDTA). The case is part of a sustained, coordinated effort by federal law enforcement agencies, working together with the Chicago Police and other state and local departments, to disrupt Chicago’s sophisticated, often violent, drug trafficking organizations.
Law enforcement has identified the Hobos as a tight-knit, violent crew that originated in the former Robert Taylor Homes and banded together from factions of the much larger Gangster Disciples and Black Disciples street gangs. They allegedly targeted drug dealers and high-value targets to rob and relied upon each other to protect their drug territory, retaliate against rival gangs, and prevent witnesses from cooperating with law enforcement.
All nine defendants were charged with racketeering conspiracy and are currently in state or federal custody. They, all of Chicago, are
- Gregory Chester, also known as “Bowlegs,” “Big Homie,” “Pops,” and “Desjuar Anderson,” 36, of Richton Park, identified as the leader of the Hobos
- Arnold Council, aka “Armstrong” and “Hobo,” 37
- Paris Poe, aka “Poleroski,” 33
- Gabriel Bush, aka “Louie,” 34
- Stanley Vaughn, aka “Smiley,” 36
- William Ford, aka “Joe Buck,” 33
- Gary Chester, aka “Chee,” 35 (Gregory Chester’s cousin)
- Byron Brown, aka “B-Rupt,” 28. Byron Brown’s deceased twin brother, Brandon Brown, is named as an unindicted co-conspirator.
- Rodney Jones, aka “Milk,” 26
Poe, Council, Bush, and Byron Brown were each charged with one count of murder in aid of racketeering, and council was charged with brandishing a firearm during a clothing store robbery. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of an unspecified amount of illegal proceeds.
All nine defendants will be arraigned on later dates in U.S. District Court.
According to the indictment, the murders committed by members and associates of the Hobos Enterprise included
- Wilbert Moore, who was killed because he was cooperating with law enforcement, by Council and Poe on January 19, 2006
- Terrance Anderson by Bush and others on September 1, 2007
- Eddie Moss by Byron Brown and others on December 14, 2007
- Larry Tucker by Bush, the Brown brothers, and others on January 20, 2008
- Kenneth Mosby by Byron Brown and others on May 12, 2008.
Gregory Chester allegedly solicited the murder of Antonio Bluitt, which occurred on September 2, 2007.
The attempted murders included
- Victim 1 by Council and Poe on June 11, 2006
- Victims 2 and 3 by Bush and Ford on June 5, 2007
- Victim 4 by Bush and Vaughn on June 27, 2007
- Victim 5 by Jones on November 5, 2007
The robberies included
- Victim 1 by Council and Poe on June 11, 2006
- the Collections Clothing Store by Council and others on November 8, 2008
- Victims 6 and 7 by Poe, Gary Chester, and others on March 25, 2009
The RICO conspiracy count further alleges that the Hobos and their associates operated drug spots and drug lines where they distributed user quantities of narcotics, at times using nicknames to identify their products. These locations included
- the building and area located at 4429 South Federal, within the former Robert Taylor Homes, which was controlled and managed by Gregory Chester and Council and drugs were sold under the nicknames “Green Monster” and “Pink Panther"
- the area around 47th Street and Vincennes Avenue, which was controlled by Bush and Vaughn and operated by Ford
- the area around 51st Street and Calumet Avenue, which was managed by the Brown brothers and Jones
- the area around 51st Street and Martin Luther King Drive, which was controlled by Bush
As part of the racketeering conspiracy, the defendants allegedly
- used gang-related terminology, symbols, and gestures, including the slogan “Hobo or Nothing” and a hand sign known as the “Hobo Horns”
- shared the proceeds of robberies and the trafficking of narcotics
- obtained, used, brandished, and discharged firearms in connection with the enterprise’s illegal activities
- managed the procurement, transfer, use, concealment, and disposal of firearms and dangerous weapons within the enterprise to protect their interests and further their goals
- monitored law enforcement radio frequencies and acquired radio equipment to detect and avoid law enforcement inquiry into their illegal activities
- had nominees obtain rental vehicles to conceal their use while committing illegal activities
- identified victims from whom they could obtain distribution quantities of controlled substances or large sums of money by robbing them
- conducted surveillance of intended murder and robbery victims, a practice referred to as “lamping” and “doing homework"
- restrained and murdered victims and witnesses to prevent their escapes and to prevent identification of themselves and their associates.
The RICO conspiracy count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, or life for the four defendants charged with committing murders. Those four defendants―Poe, Council, Bush, and Byron Brown―also face a mandatory life sentence, or death, if convicted of murder in aid of racketeering. Only the Attorney General of the United States may decide later whether to seek the death penalty. The charge of brandishing a firearm against Council carries a mandatory consecutive sentence of seven years and a maximum of life in prison. If convicted, the court must determine a reasonable sentence to impose under federal statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.
The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Patrick Otlewski, Erika Csicsila, and Derek Owens.
An indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.