Jury Convicts Leaders of Hobos ‘Super Gang’ for 8 Killings

Jason Meisner, Chicago Tribune, January 4, 2017

Even in a city where gangs and gun violence have plagued neighborhoods for decades, the Hobos were in a class of their own.

As they built a vast narcotics empire, the Hobos, a so-called “super gang” made up of leaders from rival Chicago street gangs, ruled by fear, federal prosecutors alleged. They robbed drug dealers at gunpoint, kidnapped and tortured rivals, even targeted a former NBA player for a stickup after he was spotted at a nightclub wearing a pricey necklace.

But it was the shootings that truly terrorized communities. Using high-powered weapons, the Hobos opened fire on one victim outside a day care, another at a crowded block party, two more in front of a funeral home. The Hobos went after informants, too, killing one outside a barbershop and ambushing another as he drove up to his suburban home with his fiancee and two young kids.

On Wednesday, a federal jury convicted six reputed Hobos leaders of racketeering conspiracy charges alleging the gang carried out a total of eight murders over the course of a decade as well as a slew of kidnappings, robberies and shootings that left several people gravely wounded.

After a marathon 15-week trial that featured hundreds of witnesses and four days of closing arguments, the jury deliberated into a sixth day before finding all six defendants guilty of the main racketeering count carrying a sentence of up to life in prison.

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Four other members of the gang, including Chester’s cousin, pleaded guilty before trial. An 11th Hobo died before charges were handed down, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

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Not since El Rukn trials two decades ago had so much violence been alleged against a single gang. Heavy security was in place at the courthouse for the duration of the trial, and the names of jurors were kept secret.

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Prosecutors allege that the Hobos represented a new breed of gang that was made up of members from various gangs who once were rivals. Many of the Hobos started in the now-demolished Robert Taylor and Ida B. Wells public housing complexes from factions of the Gangster Disciples and the Black Disciples street gangs, according to prosecutors.

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