Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Delay in Gang Leader's Trial Blunts Crackdown Chicago Confronts Gangster Disciple Turf Wars Series: Bringing Down a Gang

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Delay in Gang Leader's Trial Blunts Crackdown Chicago Confronts Gangster Disciple Turf Wars Series: Bringing Down a Gang

Article excerpt

Chicago police are bracing for intensified gang violence following this week's year-long delay of the drug conspiracy trial of Larry "King" Hoover, allegedly one of America's most powerful gang leaders.

US District Judge Brian Duff's abrupt ruling marks a setback for federal prosecutors who were prepared to go to court on Oct. 7 against Mr. Hoover and five co-defendants, all alleged high-ranking leaders of the 30,000-strong Gangster Disciples (GD).

"We want to try this as soon as possible. Now {Hoover} will have more time to prepare a defense," says Cook County chief gang prosecutor Jack Hynes, who is part of a seven-year-old joint state, local, and federal investigation and crackdown on the Gangster Disciples' violent, $100-million retail drug trade. Hoover, now serving a 150- to 200-year sentence for murder, has allegedly run the gang's lucrative drug empire from prison. After his indictment on the drug conspiracy charges last year, Hoover was moved to a federal correctional center in Chicago. Law-enforcement officials hope that by convicting Hoover and sending him permanently to a maximum security federal prison, they can effectively stop him from directing criminal gang operations. Prosecutors also say the delay leaves their witnesses more vulnerable. "We always have gang members who want to get to our witnesses and intimidate them," says Mr. Hynes. Gang leaders have been charged with murdering two GD members, one a cooperating federal witness and another who was suspected of being a government informer. Chicago police say Hoover's reprieve is likely to fuel battling between older GD leaders loyal to him and renegade GD factions. Upstarts have fought for control of lucrative drug turf since Hoover and 38 other alleged gang leaders and collaborators were indicted in August 1995. "We expect more violence within the GDs," says Chicago Police gang unit Commander Donald Hilbring. "The more you drag things out, the more the loyal GDs will try to maintain their control over the younger renegades who want to go their own way." Factionalism has plagued the GDs in the last year. Five groups, all with different names, have sprung up in Chicago's suburban Will County alone. …

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