George W. Knox, Director, NGCRC
Copyright, 2001, NGCRC, Chicago, IL.
(COPYRIGHT PROTECTED DOCUMENT:
DO NOT USE WITHOUT THE WRITTEN PERMISSION
OF THE NATIONAL GANG CRIME RESEARCH CENTER)
© Copyright 2008, Chicago, IL, National Gang Crime Research Center.
The Gangster Disciples, formed in 1974 as a 60-man operation, by 1995 had matured into a centralized criminal organization with nearly 30,000 members in Chicago alone, spreading its tentacles out to at least 35 other states and several thousand more members.
With an estimated annual revenues in excess of $100 million from Chicagoland narcotics sales and street tax (its total income from various front organizations, social service scams and other illegal income sources is difficult to assess), the gang is one of Chicago's most successful, albeit illegal, home-grown corporations in the modern American underground economy.
The Gangster Disciples' entrenched presence in city life, from West Side drug sales to political protests at City Hall, is a painful reminder that Chicago has a long and well-earned reputation as a gangster town.
It is also a testament to the gang's reach.
Like an aggressive, mutating virus, the Gangster Disciples gang has penetrated and exploited legitimate authority structures and democratic processes that could have endangered its existence: media, government, social service agencies, academia, church, even the penal system.
Reminiscent of the U.S. Army's recruitment promise to "be all you can be" the gang has lured members with opportunities far overreaching illicit financial gain from narcotics sales, from merchandising "prison fashion" to meeting with the President of the United States.
As they climb within the gang hierarchy, GD members have increased access to political internships, media exposure, preaching engagements, contracts and jobs with social service agencies and high schools and the prestige of associating with national leaders.
Chicago's Gangster Disciples have benefited from a societal vulnerability created in part by the naïveté, ignorance-- and often apathy-- of journalists, politicians, religious leaders and government officials.
In this article, we will provide an overview of this powerful and dangerous gang, including information on: recent federal indictments and ongoing investigation; thumbnail sketches of gang leaders; organizational chart; historical overview with gang constitution; political and social service fronts; use of religion; and media strategies.
This article will conclude with an assessment of the gang's current power in light of recent federal indictments. Also included: excerpts from a yet-to-be released study by the National Gang Crime Research Center, prepared from a survey of Atlanta law-enforcement officials, including data on their beliefs of the gang's intent and ability to menace the upcoming Atlanta Olympic Games.
This document provides the basic gang profile of the Gangster Disciples originally published in the Journal of Gang Research. More recently, a follow-up study has been completed on the impact of the federal prosecution against the Gangster Disciples. This is not available on-line.
Federal Indictments: United States of America v. the Gangster Disciples On Aug. 31, 1995, U.S. Atty Jim Burns boasted in a Chicago news conference that a five-year federal investigation had "torn the head off the snake" by indicting 39 GD members and associates, including leader Larry "The Chairman" Hoover. Hoover and 38 other GD middle management gang leaders now face long federal prison sentences for among other things using juveniles in their large scale drug sales operations. Hoover himself faces a federal life sentence if convicted.
Officers and officials from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms, U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, the U.S. Marshal's office, Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Customs, Illinois State...