10 alleged Minneapolis gang members are charged in ongoing federal violent crime crackdown

U.S. Attorney Andy Luger and law enforcement officials hold a news conference to announce federal firearms and drug charges against 10 alleged members of a Minneapolis street gang, Tuesday, June 18, 2024, at the his office in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Goldberg)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Ten alleged members of a Minneapolis gang 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, for your families and your children, to make sure violent crime continues to drop and we can all enjoy our beautiful cities this summer.”

Many of the cases prosecutors have brought under the initiative have 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 Minneapolis-based gangs. The first round of charges was announced in May 2023, when federal authorities said 45 people had been charged for crimes including seven homicides, drug trafficking and firearms violations. Then in August of that year, 14 more alleged members of Minneapolis-based gangs were charged.

Tuesday's charges involved a fourth gang. Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O'Hara said his department's gun investigations unit and the FBI caught wind that gang members were seeking to reemerge in a south Minneapolis neighborhood after a period dormancy. Authorities began an investigation last fall.

“Much of the violence they perpetrate on our residents can be directly attributed to actions related to the distribution of fentanyl and other dangerous narcotics, illegally possessing firearms and in general terrorizing our community,” O’Hara said.

Investigators conducted search warrants and recovered cash, crack cocaine, methamphetamine, fentanyl and 13 illegal guns, O'Hara said.

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

Nationwide, violent crime was down 15% in the first three months of 2024 compared to a year earlier, according to FBI data released this month. That reflects a continuing downward trend since a coronavirus pandemic surge. But at least one expert has cautioned that the declines in FBI data are preliminary and likely overstated.

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

“Today, we are here to say that enough is enough,” O'Hara said.