11 Convicted in Drug Gang War
MIAMI (AP) _ A jury Monday convicted all 11 defendants who belonged to a drug gang that authorities say smuggled tons of cocaine into the United States and killed dozens of rivals to protect its turf through the 1990s.
The Boobie Boys gang was targeted by a joint federal-state task force after Miami-Dade police detectives realized they had a drug war on their hands. With gang members in custody since 1997, murder rates have fallen by one-third to one-half on the gang’s home turf.
Defense attorneys promised to appeal the 5-ton cocaine distribution conspiracy case carrying possible life sentences for all. Sentencing was set for June 6.
Kenneth ``Boobie″ Williams, whose nickname covered the gang, and his right-hand man, Efrain Cosado, also were found guilty of an umbrella racketeering count alleging trafficking and violence.
No murder charges were part of the federal indictment, but the jury was handed photo blowups of drug crime victims and other close-up pictures of bullet-riddled bodies.
``We think that they had so much evidence that they should not have had that colored their decision,″ said Jason Grey, attorney for Jonathan ``Moose″ Hawthorne. ``Based on the evidence before the jury, their verdict is certainly understandable.″
Law enforcement officials say the Boobie Boys gang killed to establish its turf and to retaliate against rivals as it built a drug empire that smuggled $85 million worth of cocaine across 25 Florida cities and 12 states from 1990 to 1998.
The gang was blamed for 35 murders, including the death of a 5-year-old boy in a drive-by shooting that killed a rival drug dealer and his girlfriend. Shootings tied to the gang since 1993 wounded more than 100 people.