Who Is Larry Hoover? Jailed Founder of Chicago's Gangster Disciples

Larry Hoover, a convicted murderer and chairman of the Chicago street gang known as Gangster Disciples who is currently serving six life sentences, formed the center of a Los Angeles concert Thursday held by Ye (the rapper formerly known as Kanye West).

Featuring a special guest rapper Drake, Ye also performed at the "Free Larry Hoover" benefit concert, which aimed to raise awareness and support for Hoover, who is in his early 70s, as well as for the cause of prison and sentencing reform.

In a LA Coliseum statement last month, Ye said: "I believe this event will not only bring awareness to our cause but prove to people everywhere how much more we can accomplish when we lay our pride aside and come together."

But who is Hoover and why is he in prison?

Who is Larry Hoover?

Considered one of the most infamous Chicago gangsters since Al Capone, Hoover reportedly had the power to ignite prison riots with the wave of a hand, supported by the Gangster Disciples, according to the Better Government Association (BGA), which described to be "Illinois' only non-partisan, full-service watchdog organization."

At one point the Gangster Disciples, one of the largest street gangs in the country that's been around since the 1960s, were believed to have garnered 30,000 members in over 30 states.

In May 1997, Hoover and six other members of the Gangster Disciples were convicted of operating a drug ring that prosecutors claimed made an estimated $100 million a year. They were convicted of all 42 counts of conspiracy to distribute drugs.

At the time of the 1997 conviction, Hoover was already serving a 200-year sentence for murder. Since then, he has been serving six life terms at the government's "supermax" prison in Florence, Colorado, also known as ADX for "administrative maximum."

Dubbed the most secure prison in the country, the maximum security facility houses convicted terrorists and gang members.

In January this year, a new federal indictment suggested Hoover may still hold power over the Chicago gang he founded.

The latest indictment accused seven state and national leaders of the Gangster Disciples of racketeering conspiracy, drug trafficking, witness intimidation and several murders, including the 2018 killing of a 65-year-old ranking member of the gang, the Chicago Tribune reported in January 2021.

Hoover was not accused of wrongdoing but the indictment claimed that back in September 2014, two Gangster Disciples members discussed how the founder had recently appointed them as "board members," which gave the pair authority over the gang's national operation.

Federal prosecutors alleged Hoover had secretly communicated with a Gangster Disciples underling several years ago via coded messages that were hidden in a dictionary.

Hoover denied knowledge of the dictionary found in his cell, according to a disciplinary report, the Chicago daily newspaper reported in February 2021.

The gang leader claimed serving prison time had left him a changed man and alleged that prosecutors had unfairly painted him as a puppet master in a bid to keep him in prison.

In a statement in January 2021, Hoover's attorney, Justin Moore, said that prosecutors had been using Hoover as a "scapegoat for criminal activity."

Moore said at the time: "This is a 70-year-old man in the twilight of his years, who has serious medical complications, and is seeking release to finally be with his wife, children and grandchildren after nearly 50 years of separation."

The ADX "Supermax" prison in Colorado.
A view of the U.S. Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility, also known as the ADX or "Supermax," in Florence, Colorado. JASON CONNOLLY/AFP via Getty Images