Federal prosecutors charge 45 in crackdown on violent street gangs in Minneapolis

Federal prosecutors charge 45 in crackdown on violent street gangs in Minneapolis

Federal prosecutors charge 45 in crackdown on violent street gangs in Minneapolis

Dozens of members of Minneapolis street gangs and their associates are now facing federal charges following a multi-agency operation between local and federal authorities.

Prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office were joined by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Minneapolis Police Department, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and other leaders to announce the charges Wednesday afternoon.

U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger said 45 people are facing racketeering charges in connection to the investigation, marking the first time his office has filed RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) charges against Minneapolis street gangs.

According to Luger, the indictments charge 30 members and associates of the Highs and the Bloods with racketeering conspiracy involving alleged murder, attempted murder, robbery, drug trafficking and obstruction of justice. Another 15 members are facing drug and gun charges.

All but two of those charged are in custody, Luger said Wednesday, noting that many were already in custody but around two dozen of them were arrested in recent days.

“Today’s announcement marks a fundamental change for federal law enforcement. We are now addressing gang violence for what it is: organized criminal activity,” Luger said. “As alleged, these defendants engaged in an unrelenting trail of violence, resulting in today’s federal RICO charges and related charges. The aggregate nature of a RICO prosecution has a deeper impact and carries a stronger deterrence message, with the ultimate goal of reducing violence and returning peace to our communities.”

“Today, we have dealt a significant blow to the street gangs of Minneapolis, and 45 defendants are now facing federal charges,” Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite, Jr., added at a press conference.

Luger said those charged are a mix of high- and low-level gang members.

Steven Dettelbach, the national director of the ATF, was also in attendance and promised Minneapolis residents that the agencies will continue their work to hold those responsible for violence accountable.

“We are not done. ATF and everybody here is going to continue to stand with you and make sure that we protect and respect your rights … your rights to live in peace without having to dodge through a hail of gunfire,” Dettelbach said. “And next, a message to the gang members and others out there that may be committing or even thinking of committing these types of violent acts alleged in the indictments: don’t do it.”

“These indictments are removing from our communities the most prolific and violent offenders and in turn, preventing future violent crime from happening,” Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara said, adding that the violence has become normalized but won’t be tolerated.

While Luger didn’t say how many more people could be charged, he and other officials said the work to get violent criminals off the streets will continue.

“We have a long way to go, we have a lot more charges to bring,” Luger said.

The announcement came exactly one year after Luger and his federal and local partners held a press conference to announce a new strategy to combat violent crime in the Twin Cities, which included the creation of a new unit to focus on the most violent gang members.

Click the video box below to watch Wednesday’s full press conference.

[anvplayer video=”5175208″ station=”998122″]

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45 charged in Minneapolis street gang operation

45 charged in Minneapolis street gang operation