Vice Lord Pleads Guilty In Mississippi Gun Plot

NOVEMBER 5, 2003

An admitted member of the Vice Lords street gang pleaded guilty Wednesday to selling Crack Cocaine in rural Mississippi and using the money to buy dozens of guns there for resale to gangs back in Chicago. Louis F. Rowe, 31, admitted to falsifying documents and using women as so-called straw purchasers to thwart laws barring felons from buying guns. He had previously been convicted of armed robbery, carrying a concealed weapon, unlawful use of a weapon and possession of narcotics.

Once the women purchased the weapons at the now-defunct 2nd Amendment Gun Shop in Grenada, Mississippi, they turned them over to Rowe and two other Chicago gang members, Charles Yarbor and Julius Sangster, Rowe admitted.

Rowe admitted in a signed plea agreement that 83 guns purchased in Mississippi - through the sale there of Crack that was imported from Chicago - were brought north, wrapped in sheets under the bumpers of gang members' cars.

So far, 28 of the guns have been recovered on the streets of Chicago in connection with crimes, officials said. They said the primary purchaser was a now-deceased Gangster Disciple who went under the name "Tim Herman.''

Federal sentencing guidelines call for a minimum of 27 years in prison. But that exceeds the maximum term set by federal law _ 15 years. In such cases, the maximum set by statute is the upper limit.

Rowe pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the government by buying guns through straw purchasers and unlawful possession of a firearm. Under the plea agreement, the government promised not to bring further charges in exchange for Rowe's guilty plea.

Assistant U.S. Attorney T. Markus Funk told U.S. District Judge Charles P. Kocoras that Rowe also could have been charged with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution and threatening a federal witness as well. Conviction on such charges could have sent him to prison for life. Kocoras set Jan. 21 for sentencing. Sangster pleaded guilty and was sentenced to four years.

Yarbor and Jimmy D. Wren of Nettleton, Mississippi, proprietor of the 2nd Amendment Gun Shop, went to trial, were convicted and sentenced to five years each.