10 alleged Minneapolis gang members face federal violent crime crackdown

10 alleged Minneapolis gang members face federal violent crime crackdown

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Ten alleged Minneapolis gang members accused of “terrorizing” a city neighborhood have been charged with a range of federal crimes, including possession of a machine gun and drug trafficking, law enforcement officials announced Tuesday.

The charges are the latest move in an ongoing federal initiative that began two years ago to crack down on violent crime in Minnesota, U.S. Attorney Andy Luger told reporters.

“Our federal resources are focused on holding accountable those who threaten the safety of our communities,” Luger said. “My message to the community: We are working for you, your families and your children to ensure that violent crime continues to decline. and we can all enjoy our beautiful cities this summer.”

Many of the cases prosecutors brought under the initiative involved the prosecution of gang members in north and south Minneapolis. Before Tuesday, federal prosecutors had already charged more than 70 alleged gang members, Luger said.

Last year, authorities set their sights on three gangs in Minneapolis. The first round of indictments was announced in May 2023, when federal authorities said 45 people were charged with crimes, including seven murders, drug trafficking and firearms violations. Then, in August of that year, 14 other alleged Minneapolis gang members were indicted.

Tuesday’s charges involved a fourth gang. Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara said his department’s weapons investigation unit and the FBI heard gang members were trying to re-emerge in a south Minneapolis neighborhood after a hiatus. Authorities began an investigation last fall.

“Much of the violence they perpetrate on our residents can be directly attributed to the distribution of fentanyl and other dangerous narcotics, the illegal possession of firearms and generally terrorizing our community,” O’Hara said.

Investigators executed search warrants and recovered cash, crack cocaine, methamphetamine, fentanyl and 13 illegal weapons, O’Hara said.

The charges were brought ahead of the summer months, when violent crime often spikes, to ensure gangs could not re-emerge, Luger said. Investigators believe the gang is local and not connected to a national criminal enterprise.

Nationally, violent crime fell 15 percent in the first three months of 2024 compared to a year earlier, according to FBI data released this month. This reflects a continued downward trend since the rise of the coronavirus pandemic. But at least one expert cautioned that the FBI data drops are preliminary and likely overstated.

In Minneapolis, O’Hara said there has been a drop in violent crime in some areas, but not in others. Efforts to reduce violent crime have been hampered by understaffing and the proliferation of illegal drugs and weapons, he added.

“Today, we’re here to say enough is enough,” O’Hara said.