Gangster Disciples Leader Convicted
Larry "King" Hoover, chair of the Chicago-based Gangster Disciples (GD), and six members of his gang, were convicted on May 9 of running a nationwide drug ring. The government alleged the drug conspiracy earned Hoover and his partners over $100 million a year (Gary Marx and Matt O'Connor, "As Hoover trial nears, gang unity starts to unravel," Chicago Tribune, March 18, 1997, p. 1; Jeff Zeleny, "Hoover's prison reign described by guard," Chicago Tribune, March 27, 1997, p. A8; "Hoover, 6 others convicted," Chicago Tribune, May 10, 1997, p. 1; see also "Gangster Disciples: Nation's Largest Gang-Run Drug Enterprise," NewsBriefs, Summer 1996).
Agents tape-recorded conversations between Hoover and members of his gang in the visiting room of the jail. Visitors wore badges that contained transmitters installed by the government. In addition, several of Hoover's former followers, including his ex-girlfriend and a co-defendant, testified against him.
Hoover, serving a life sentence for a 1973 murder conviction, operated the drug ring from within his cell. While in prison Hoover enjoyed an extraordinary amount of freedom. From an unlocked cell, to specially prepared foods, and unlimited phone calls, he took liberties rarely received by inmates. In addition to effectively running the GD operation, he collected "taxes" of $200,000-300,000 a week from dealers who dealt within GD territory. Hoover was nearly up for parole when the drug trial started. Now convicted, he faces a mandatory life sentence.
Chicago press, and Hoover himself, have compared Hoover's operation to that of legendary gangsters Al Capone and John Gotti. U.S. Attorney James Burns said, "this is a big step toward the destruction of the hierarchy of one of the biggest and most powerful gangs in the country."