Oakland ‘assassin’ sentenced to life in prison

2 mins read

Burte Gucci Rhodes, a.k.a. “Moeshawn,” was sentenced to life in prison for committing a murder-for-hire, conspiring before the murder, and dealing heroin. 

U.S. District Judge William Alsup handed down the sentence on Wednesday. 

Prosecutors described 41-year-old Rhodes as an “assassin.” He was convicted after a week-long trial last year that focused on the murder of Louisiana native Trince Thibodeaux, 28, on March 22, 2016. 

According to trial evidence, Marcus Etienne, a.k.a. “Hitler,” of St. Martin Parish, La., was the leader of a racketeering enterprise based in Louisiana. 

The criminal group engaged in crimes, including narcotics distribution, assault, robbery, extortion, extortionate collection of extensions of credit, murder-for-hire, murder, money laundering, illegal firearms possession, dogfighting, and obstruction of justice.

The group was led by Etienne and Thibodeaux became one of its members. 

In 2016, Etienne told Thibodeaux to transport several thousand dollars and drugs from Louisiana to California. Later, Etienne believed that Thibodeaux stole money and narcotics and ordered Thibodeaux to be killed. 

Etienne then offered Mario Robinson, 36, of Oakland, $5,000 to murder Thibodeaux. Robinsons in turn contracted longtime friend, Rhodes, to complete the murder for $5,000. 

Evidence showed that on March 22, 2016, Robinson and another member of the enterprise lured Thibodeaux to a location near the 90th Avenue intersection. 

According to prosecutors, once Thibodeaux arrived, Rhodes approached him from behind and shot him nine times. 

A week after the killing, Robinson transferred money to Rhodes. 

In 2018, a grand jury charged Rhodes with murder-for-hire, conspiracy, and other crimes. Etienne and Robinson were charged with several crimes related to the criminal enterprise. 

Etienne and Robinson admitted to their roles in the crimes and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute marijuana and racketeering conspiracy. 

Judge Alsup sentenced Etienne to 34 years in prison and Robinson to 32 years in 2020. 

The United States Attorney’s Office’s Organized Crime Strike Force prosecuted the case. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI, IRS, and Oakland Police Department.


Charlene is a Bay Area journalist who hails from the small community of Fresno. Drawing from her experience writing for her college paper, Charlene continues to advocate for free press and local journalism. She also volunteers in all the beach cleanups she can because she loves the water.