45 Gang Members Hit With Federal Charges As Prosecutors Seek To Classify Gang Violence As Organized Crime

[Screenshot/YouTube/WCCO-CBS Minnesota]

Font Size:

Multiple members of two Minneapolis-based street gangs were indicted on multiple federal charges May 3, marking a “fundamental change” in the way federal law enforcement is handling gang violence, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Minnesota stated.

“Today’s announcement marks a fundamental change for federal law enforcement. We are now addressing gang violence for what it is: organized criminal activity,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger stated in the press release.

A total of 45 members and associates of two street gangs – the Highs and the Bloods – were slapped with federal charges pertaining to murder, obstruction of justice, drug trafficking as well as firearms charges. “As alleged, these defendants engaged in an unrelenting trail of violence, resulting in today’s federal [Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations] (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,” Luger continued.

The RICO Act of 1970 was passed to provide enhanced measures and remedies in dealing with illegal activities tied to organized crime.”With RICO you’re liable regardless if you have any specific knowledge of any crime being committed,” RICO law specialist Jeff Grell explained to KARE 11 News. “You’re liable because you operate and manage a criminal enterprise.”

“For too long, criminal gangs have wreaked havoc on our streets, leaving in their wake tragedy and trauma that threatens to destroy families, neighborhoods, and communities. When we refrain from utilizing the full force of laws available to hold these bad actors accountable, we allow for this horrific behavior, and its impact on residents, to continue to be normalized,” Chief Brian O’Hara of the Minneapolis Police Department stated in the release. (RELATED: Police Arrest Three Gang Members 13 Months After Toddler Was Killed In Freeway Shooting)

The arrests of those indicted are “just the beginning,” O’Hara continued, warning gang members that Minneapolis police officers are now embedded in the U.S. Attorney’s office, ready and willing to develop future federal cases against those that engage in gang violence.

“Today we are standing shoulder to shoulder with all of law enforcement and making clear that this behavior will not be tolerated. If you intend to engage in violent crimes in our city, we will find you, we will track you down, and we will bring you to justice,” O’Hara continued. (RELATED: FBI Intervenes To Secure ‘George Floyd Square’ Following Pleas From Locals About Gang Activity, Violence)

If convicted, the gang members could face a number of penalties, including life in prison for racketeering conspiracy acts of murder, using a firearm to commit murder, and conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, the press release stated.