A federal jury convicted six members of a Chicago street gang known as the Hobos of participating in a criminal organization that engaged in narcotics distribution and committed murders, attempted murders and armed robberies.
The verdicts were rendered after a 15-week trial in federal court in Chicago. In convicting the six defendants of racketeering conspiracy, the jury found the Hobos were a criminal enterprise that robbed from other drug dealers, retaliated against rival gangs, and violently prevented witnesses from cooperating with law enforcement. For nearly a decade the gang engaged in murders, attempted murders, robberies and narcotics distribution, primarily on the south and west sides of Chicago.
Federal, state and local authorities uncovered the gang activity through an extensive investigation conducted by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) and the Chicago High Intensity Drug Task Force (HIDTA). The Task Forces have been responsible for disrupting some of the Chicago area’s most sophisticated drug-trafficking organizations.
The verdicts were announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Michael J. Anderson, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Eddie T. Johnson, Chicago Police Superintendent; and James D. Robnett, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division. The Illinois State Police, Illinois Department of Corrections and Illinois Secretary of State Police provided assistance.
Convicted of racketeering conspiracy were GREGORY CHESTER, of Chicago; ARNOLD COUNCIL, of Chicago; PARIS POE, of Chicago; GABRIEL BUSH, of Chicago; WILLIAM FORD, of Chicago; and DERRICK VAUGHN, of Chicago. Council, Bush, Poe and Vaughn were also convicted of committing murder in aid of racketeering. Poe was convicted of committing murder to obstruct justice, and the jury convicted Council of using a firearm during a robbery of a clothing store. The jury also convicted Ford on a gun charge and a drug charge.
The convictions carry maximum sentences of life in prison. U.S. District Judge John J. Tharp Jr. scheduled sentencing hearings for June 23, 2017.
The guilty verdicts bring to ten the total number of Hobos convicted in the case. Four members of the gang, including Chester’s cousin, pleaded guilty prior to trial. An eleventh Hobo was identified in the indictment as a coconspirator, but he died before the charges were brought.
Evidence at trial revealed the Hobos were comprised of members from other street gangs that were once rivals. The Hobos allied together in order to more profitably distribute narcotics, accumulate wealth, and establish control of territories on the south and west sides of Chicago. The Hobos were violent and ruthless, often using high-powered guns and assault rifles. Members of the gang shared the wealth with each other, buying luxury items and taking trips to Hawaii and Florida. Although the Hobos lacked a traditional hierarchy, Chester was recognized as its leader. From 2004 to 2013 the Hobos engaged in narcotics trafficking, home invasions and armed robberies, often of rival drug dealers.
When the Hobos learned that individuals were cooperating with law enforcement, the gang resorted to murder in order to prevent it. In 2006 Council and Poe fatally shot Wilbert Moore, whose cooperation with Chicago Police had led to state gun and drug charges against Council. In 2013 Poe shot and killed Keith Daniels after Daniels cooperated with the federal investigation that led to these convictions.
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