Jury Convicts Longtime Hoover Criminal Gang Members of Racketeering Conspiracy, Murder in Aid of Racketeering
PORTLAND, Ore.—A federal jury in Portland found two longtime Hoover Criminal Gang members guilty today for conspiring to commit racketeering through various criminal acts spanning decades, including murder, robbery, and drug dealing.
Lorenzo Laron Jones, 49, and Ronald Clayton Rhodes, 37, both residents of Portland, were found guilty of racketeering conspiracy, murder in aid of racketeering, and using and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence.
“Prosecuting violent street gangs as racketeering enterprises is a powerful law enforcement tool we believe will reduce shootings in Portland and begin to restore the safe, vibrant community the public deserves,” said Steven T. Mygrant, Chief of the Narcotics and Criminal Enterprises Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon. “Today’s convictions are an important milestone, but only the beginning of our effort to hold accountable all those responsible for gun violence in Portland.”
“When groups like this flood local streets with violence, the most effective response is for team law enforcement, the FBI, the U.S. Attorney's Office, alongside state and local law enforcement, to come together and leverage our most sophisticated investigative and prosecutorial methods. The most powerful response is a joint response,” says Kieran L. Ramsey, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Portland Field Office. “These convictions cannot undo the damage that has been done but we hope it sends a clear message that we will continue to pursue the most violent and persistent offenders and hold them accountable for their blatant disregard for human life and the safety of our communities.”
“This verdict is the culmination of a tremendous amount of work by everyone involved and highlights how, working together with multiple law enforcement agencies, we are now able to hold gang members responsible for homicides and firearm related crimes and provide some closure to the victims and their families,” said Commander Timothy Robinson of the Portland Police Bureau’s Detective Division. “I would especially like to thank current and former detectives. They worked tirelessly on these cases, while still shouldering an ever-increasing caseload. Their search for justice and dedication to our community is unwavering.”
According to court documents, the Hoovers are a criminal street gang operating in Oregon known to engage in acts of violence including murder, robbery, and drug dealing. The Hoovers originated in Los Angeles in the late 1960s and established a presence in Portland in the early 1980s. The gang has a loose hierarchical structure in which members have different amounts of power and influence based on age and gang activity. To maintain status and increase one’s position in the gang, members are expected to carry out violence on behalf of the enterprise.
The Hoovers are rivals with many Portland gangs, including multiple Blood and Crip sets, and are self-described “everybody killers.” Hoover members are expected to use violence to retaliate any perceived slight or actual act of violence against a Hoover member or ally.
Jones and Rhodes are longtime Hoover members who, together, have engaged in a 30-year pattern of violent racketeering activity. As senior members of the gang, Jones and Rhodes mentored younger members and new recruits, using them to conduct business and violence on behalf of the gang.
During trial, the government proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Jones murdered Wilbert Butler on September 17, 2017, in Portland. Jones was also proven to have engaged in multiple attempted murders, illegally possessed firearms as a convicted felon, and distributed controlled substances throughout the Portland area. Among other criminal acts, Rhodes was convicted of participating in the murder of Portland resident Kyle Polk on December 16, 2015, near a convenience store in southeast Portland.
On November 7, 2019, a federal grand jury in Portland returned a 13-count superseding indictment charging Jones, Rhodes, and two accomplices with racketeering conspiracy, murder in aid of racketeering, using and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence and causing death through the use of a firearm.
Jones and Rhodes face mandatory life sentences in federal prison. They will be sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Michael J. McShane at a later date.
As part of the government’s ongoing investigation into the Hoover Criminal Gang’s racketeering activities, several other Hoover members and associates face pending federal charges or have been convicted and sentenced in federal court for crimes committed in support or on behalf of the gang’s criminal enterprise.
This case was investigated by the FBI, Portland Police Bureau, and Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office with assistance from the Gresham Police Department and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
This prosecution is the result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the U.S. by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.