Feds crack down on Native Mob gang

MINNEAPOLIS — Federal prosecutors say they’ve weakened a violent American Indian gang known for terrorizing people in the Upper Midwest now that an alleged leader and two members have been convicted in one of the largest gang cases to come out of Indian Country.

But investigators acknowledge their work isn’t done in Minnesota or other states where the Native Mob is active, noting that the gang has been around for a long time.

“We have some conservative confidence that we did put a dent (in the gang) but we’re also very realistic and know that law enforcement will continue to pursue gang activity including the Native Mob,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Winter said after jurors handed down convictions Tuesday on an array of racketeering and other charges.

“The verdicts reflect the seriousness of the crimes that were being committed by the Native Mob, which includes not only drug trafficking, but discharging of firearms at innocent people, and trafficking firearms, and basically wreaking havoc through communities throughout the state of Minnesota,” he said.

A federal jury in Minneapolis convicted the alleged Native Mob leader, 34-year-old Wakinyon Wakan McArthur, on drug and weapons charges — but also on a charge of racketeering conspiracy, which is often used to target organized crime.

Two of the gang’s alleged “soldiers” — Anthony Francis Cree, 26, and William Earl Morris, 25 — also were convicted of multiple charges including attempted murder in aid of racketeering. The latter charge stemmed from the shooting of another man that prosecutors alleged McArthur ordered, though his attorneys disputed the claim and McArthur was acquitted on that charge. But only Morris was acquitted on the top racketeering charge.

Defense attorneys said the government’s case was overblown, arguing that while gang members may have committed individual crimes, there was no evidence to support racketeering charges alleging the trio was part of a large, organized criminal group.

The three men were the only defendants who rejected plea deals after 25 people were indicted in the case last year. Several of those individuals testified during the trial, which Winter said should give other gang members pause knowing they can’t trust their co-conspirators.

A sentencing date has not yet been set, but all three men face between 20 years and life in prison, prosecutors said.

“The Native Mob has been a real detriment to native American communities throughout the state of Minnesota,” fellow prosecutor Steve Schliecher said. “Their game plan is to promote fear, and that’s the base of their power, and I think their power is diminished by this jury’s verdict. It’s going to allow people to have the rights to not live in fear, to continue on their peaceful lives.”

McArthur’s attorney, Frederick Goetz, said his client’s acquittal for attempted murder indicates the jury recognized the three defendants’ culpabilities varied.

“It was a mixed result for a mixed verdict,” Goetz said, adding that he would likely appeal.

Cree’s attorney, John Brink, said the verdicts were inconsistent, giving them an issue to use in their appeal.

Morris’ attorney, Tom Shiah, cited the same issue about inconsistent verdicts. He said he was glad Morris was acquitted of the racketeering charge but acknowledged his client was still “looking at a boatload of time.”

Federal authorities say they’ve been investigating the Native Mob, though not these three defendants, since 2004, and have now secured 30 convictions since 2007.

In the latest case, investigators said they were targeting a criminal enterprise that used intimidation and violence to maintain power. Prosecutors said the case was important not only because of its size, but because the racketeering charge is rarely used against gangs.

The 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment called the Native Mob one of the largest and most violent American Indian gangs in the U.S., most active in Minnesota and Wisconsin but also in Michigan, North Dakota and South Dakota. It is made up of mostly American Indian men and boys, and started in Minneapolis in the 1990s as members fought for turf to deal drugs. The Native Mob is also active in prison.

The Native Mob had about 200 members, with a structure that included monthly meetings where members were encouraged to assault or kill enemies, or anyone who showed disrespect, according to the indictment. Authorities said McArthur would direct other members to carry out beatings, shootings and other violent acts to intimidate rivals.

The trial, which began in January, included nearly 1,000 exhibits and 180 witnesses.

More in Local News

Longboarders from near and far hit the trail in Arlington

The Centennial Sk8 Festival was serious competition for some and just for fun for others.

Signs show the rates for using the express toll lanes for traffic headed southbound on Interstate 405, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016, in Bothell, Wash. Gov. Jay Inslee announced plans Tuesday to try to decrease congestion on I-405 in answer to commuter complaints that the new express lane tolling system is making traffic worse. The governor said he would not be shutting down the tolling system as some people have called for. But the state transportation department is making plans to add new northbound general purpose lanes to ease some of the congestion and also plan to make it easier to move into and out of the express lanes. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
After a 2-year trial, are I-405’s toll lanes here to stay?

Lawmakers will decide whether to keep them or end the experiment and try something else.

Arlington woman dies 4 days after Marysville crash

She was on the northbound onramp from Fourth Street to I-5 when her pickup hit a tree and fence.

Weary drivers using toll lanes say they have little choice

Congestion continues to be a tedious reality for commuters on I-405, which is as clogged as ever.

Council passes six-month moratorium on safe injection sites

Proposal by County Councilman Nate Nehring passed unanimously.

Terrace woman held following collision in Everett

The three occupants in vehicle were transported to a local hospital in serious condition.

Information sought on drive-by shooting in Everett

Debris from an apparent crash, evidence of gunfire found in the 2800 block of California Street.

Crews recover body of man who fell over Wallace Falls

The area where the man fell is called Sky Valley Lookout, 2.4 miles from the parking lot.

Doctors fear assault victim won’t survive a kick in the head

The suspect, a homeless man, was jailed after the incident on Smith Avenue in Everett.

Most Read