The founder of a Houston record label pleaded guilty last week to charges of cocaine distribution and money laundering. Prosecutors alleged that Estell “Hump” Hobbs was part of a nationwide drug distribution network that had ties to Mexican cartels.
Along with the rapper Lil’ Flip, Hobbs founded hip-hop label Suckafree Records back in 1998.
Prosecutors say Hobbs had been involved in the drug distribution ring for more than 15 years. Hobbs’s plea agreement is sealed, and neither he nor prosecutors have commented publicly on his alleged role in the organization. He is not accused of being a killer or a “kingpin.”
Hobbs’s plea is part of a larger investigation that has already nabbed 38 other alleged drug traffickers. Prosecutors say the network was active in Mexico, Houston, Chicago and Mississippi.
Hobbs’s sentencing date has not yet been set. He is facing a minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison.
Hobbs Must Forfeit Assets
In addition to his prison sentence, Hobbs will be requried to forfeit property and assets to the federal government.
Asset forfeiture is a common punishment in felony drug charge cases. Its intention is to seize the profits generated by criminal drug enterprises, thereby reducing the financial incentive to engage in drug crimes.
By all accounts, Hobbs led a relatively modest lifestyle. He was even reported to have taken on remodeling work in recent years to make ends meet.
Despite this, the judge in the case has issued a preliminary order requiring Hobbs to pay more than $40 million. Commentators say the money judgment is based on total amount of drugs involved in the case and not on Hobbs’s actual ability to pay.
Hobbs’s case serves a stark reminder of the possible penalties that come with being accused of participating in a criminal drug enterprise. Even defendants who receive minimal prison sentences can face serious financial consequences.
Source: Houston Chronicle, “Houston Hip Hop’s ‘Hump’ Pleads Guilty to Federal Cocaine Charges,” Dane Schiller, March 26, 2012.