Court unseals indictment of Native American gang members

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 01, 2012 9:33 PM
Court unseals indictment of Native American gang members

MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) - Federal authorities were looking for three members of a Native American gang on Wednesday charged alongside 21 others in a 47-count federal indictment with racketeering and drug offenses.

Most of the indicted "Native Mob" gang members were already in custody after a January indictment in a case prosecutors hoped would deal a blow to a gang that formed in Minneapolis in the 1990s and has about 200 members across the upper Midwest.

Members have preserved "the power, territory, reputation and profits of the enterprise through the use of intimidation and violence, including murders, attempted murders, assaults, robberies and threats of violence," the indictment said.

The wide-ranging indictment alleges several attempted murders of members of rival gangs, robberies, assaults, threats against witnesses cooperating with law enforcement and numerous shots fired into houses from 2003 through 2011.

In one incident, two gang members were accused of shooting a witness three times while he was holding his 5-year-old daughter in an attempted murder. In another, a gang member tossed scalding water into the face of a person protecting another victim who was cooperating with authorities.

Gang members sold or were arrested for possessing various illegal drugs including heroin, cocaine, crack, ecstasy and methamphetamine in the years covered by the indictment.

Members of the gang often wear red and black clothing and have tattoos with the gang name or initials, sometimes incorporating a medicine wheel, bear paw or other symbols, the indictment said.

The indictment, ordered unsealed on Tuesday, outlines a gang structure aimed at establishing a racketeering charge, including monthly meetings and regional gang representatives.

It said that top leaders maintained discipline, others took care of money questions and provided cash to members serving prison sentences, and lower level leaders responded to external threats or punished members who broke rules.

(Reporting by David Bailey; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)