CHICAGO (AP) — The biggest street-gang trial in recent Chicago history starts in earnest with opening statements Wednesday, with months of testimony expected to provide a rare inside look at the kind of gangland activity that’s helped fuel deadly gun violence in the nation’s third largest city.

On trial for federal racketeering charges are six purported leaders of the Hobos street gang who prosecutors say murdered, maimed and tortured their way into controlling the most lucrative drug markets on the city’s South Side.

This undated photo in a court filing provided by the United States Attorney's office in Chicago, shows Paris Poe's back tattoo that reads 'The Earth Is Our Turf, and Hobo. Poe is one of six defendants on trial for racketeering and other charges are purported leaders of the widely feared Hobos, a South Side gang that federal prosecutors say murdered, maimed and tortured their way into control of some of Chicago's most lucrative drug markets. Their federal trial begins Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016 with opening statements in Chicago. (United States Attorney's office in Chicago via AP)

Paris Poe

Among the defendants is alleged Hobos hit man Paris Poe, who prosecutors say killed a government witness in 2013, shooting the man 25 times at close range while his horrified step-kids, aged 4 and 6 at the time, screamed in the back seat of a car. The 4-year-old later told investigators the “Boogie Man” had attacked them, according to court filings.

Prosecutors will seek to prove that the defendants’ criminal conspiracy involved at least nine murders, including the execution-style killing of semi-pro basketball player, Eddie Moss Jr., in a case of mistaken identity and the fatal drive-by shooting of two rival gang members outside a funeral home.

Security is heavy at federal court in downtown Chicago, with a walk-through metal detector and bomb-sniffing dog at the courtroom entrance. The judge ordered jurors’ names be kept secret to ensure they aren’t subject to intimidation. U.S. marshals have already said they’re investigating reported threats against several likely witnesses.

The 36-year-old Poe, alleged Hobos boss Gregory “Bowlegs” Chester and four other co-defendants have all pleaded not guilty. If convicted, they each face maximum life prison sentences.

Prosecutors say the Hobos formed from several fractured gangs with home bases in Chicago public housing complexes that have since been demolished.

Government filings cite one co-defendant, William Ford, as explaining in a secretly recorded conversation how the gang got its name from an early emphasis by its founders in 2003 on jewelry and other heists. “After they kept robbin’ … they like, ‘Man, we Hobo,'” Ford said, according to court filings. “And Hobos, all they do is, is sleep and rob.”

But the Hobos apparent willingness to resort to violence meant those goals changed over a decade to the point where they became one of the city’s dominant gangs. Another Hobos motto, which Poe has tattooed to his back, reflected that greater ambition — “The Earth Is Our Turf.”

While narcotics promised huge profits, robbery remained an aspect of their criminal enterprise, prosecutors say. They allegedly held up then-NBA basketball player Bobby Simmons at gunpoint outside a nightclub in 2006, getting away with the athlete’s $200,000 white gold necklace. Prosecutors say they also robbed other drug traffickers.

The violence wasn’t all one way. Court filings describe a gun battle between Hobos and rival Black Disciples during a summer picnic in 2007, when Chester was shot 18 times. The Hobos spent weeks retaliating, shooting one Black Disciple in face during a drive-by shooting and hitting another as he walked into a daycare center.

PHOTO: AP

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5 thoughts on “Biggest Gang Trial In Chicago History Begins

  1. ResponsibilityInControl on said:

    You know its really sad that we have international crisis’ going on with terrorism and we have to allocate time and resources to these ignorant street thugs who think they own turf! These idiots dont even own a home and in most cases a car but they own turf news flash you idiots you dont own anything! Its sad that these idiots fight and kill each other because there mothers lived on different streets and in some cases on public assistance its almost laughable but sad that they do not see the big picture of whats really going on in the world. If they claim to be what they think they are lets have them go fight terrorism in other parts of the world see how long they last.

    Prosecutors say the Hobos formed from several fractured gangs with home bases in Chicago public housing complexes that have since been demolished.

    The housing projects arent even there anymore you idiots but you still claiming a gang its beyond ludicrous. And I’m sure someone will blame this on economical issues but guess what they dont want jobs not that there arent any.

    • Infamous I AM on said:

      Half of you imbeciles that comment have never walked a day in the struggle..have you ever ate water@corn flakes..how about use your neighbors waterhose so you can have water…what about a big pot of water on stove to heat up so you can have hot water in tub…stfu thsn you dumb fucks…if u dont know better how can you do better..i agree that its bigger than hoods turf @ gangs..what about rfid chips,new world order,population control??

  2. Ok. Now lets see who’s going to park their ass cheeks on a bench at an athletic game. Let’s see who going to dance on water? Who’s going to kneel? Who’s going to link arms and protest? Anybody? I’ll bet my forty acres and a mule that all we will hear is silence. Not even the crickets will be chirping.

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