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DOJ files murder, racketeering case in federal court over 2017 homicide, alleging membership in criminal enterprise


This story has been updated from the original with additional details from a formal announcement Thursday.

Federal prosecutors filed new charges Thursday, Nov. 7, in a long-running racketeering investigation of Portland's Hoover street gang.

The U.S. attorney's office announced the indictment of Lorenzo Laron Jones for a 2017 homicide he'd already been charged with in state court, as well as another alleged homicide and related crimes.

Jones had earlier been indicted by the state with a second defendant, Joel McCool in the murder of Wilbert Butler, 27, on Sept. 17, 2017, within two blocks of Cleveland High School.Click here to read an article on Jones' arrest in 2018.

According to police, Butler was found wounded in the 3600 block of Southest 28th Avenue and died after being rushed to the hospital.

Click here to read a state prosecutor's memo

The new federal indictment supersedes and replaces the state case. It alleges that Jones is part of the Hoover street gang. According to allegations in a statement from the U.S. Attorney's office, "beginning in June 1989, Jones engaged in a 30-year pattern of violent racketeering activity for the purpose of maintaining and increasing his position in the Hoover Criminal Gang, a criminal enterprise engaged in racketeering in California, Oregon, Washington and elsewhere.

"Jones is alleged to have murdered Ascensio Genchi Garcia on July 19, 1998 and Wilbert Butler on September 17, 2017, both in Portland. "Additionally, he is accused of attempting to murder six other people, possessing stolen firearms, and distributing cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine."

The federal indictment names two other alleged Hoover gang members Ronald Clayton Rhodes, 34, and Javier Fernando Hernandez, 23.

Rhodes and Hernandez had been charged in September with "murder in aid of racketeering, using and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence, and causing death through the use of a firearm for the December 16, 2015 murder of Portland resident Kyle Polk," according to the U.S. Attorney's office.

Now the three men will be charged together.

Racketeering refers to the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, which allows the goverment to file broad cases against alleged criminal organizations.

According to U.S. DOJ, "the Hoovers are a criminal street gang operating in Oregon, and are known to engage in acts of violence including murder, assault, robbery, sex trafficking and the distribution of narcotics. 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 were expected to carry out violence on behalf of the enterprise."

The investigation is a joint operation of the FBI, the Portland Police Bureau, Multnomah County Sheriff's Office and the Department of Homeland Security.

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