Three Native Mob members plead guilty in racketeering court caseThe Native Mob is a regional criminal gang that originated in Minneapolis in the early 1990s. Members routinely engage in drug trafficking, assault, robbery and murder. Membership is estimated at 200, with new members, including juveniles, regularly recruited from communities with large, male, Native American populations, including Cloquet.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
MINNEAPOLIS — In federal court Tuesday, a jury found three members of the Native Mob street gang guilty on a number of charges related to the gang’s criminal activity.
Following a nearly two-month trial, the jury found Wakinyon Wakan McArthur, 34, guilty on six counts, including racketeering; William Earl Morris, 25, guilty on four counts; and Anthony Francis Cree, 26, guilty on six counts, including racketeering and attempted murder. McArthur was an alleged gang leader while Morris and Cree were alleged gang “soldiers.”
The Native Mob is a regional criminal gang that originated in Minneapolis in the early 1990s. Members routinely engage in drug trafficking, assault, robbery and murder. Membership is estimated at 200, with new members, including juveniles, regularly recruited from communities with large, male, Native American populations, including Cloquet. Association with the gang is often signified by wearing red and black clothing or sporting gang-related tattoos. According to the 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment, the Native Mob is one of the largest and most violent American Indian gangs in the U.S. and is most active in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
“The Native Mob has wreaked havoc on tribal and non-tribal communities across Minnesota and our region,”
U.S. Attorney Todd Jones said following Tuesday’s conviction. “Its members traffic in drugs and guns, using violence, intimidation, and in some instances, murder, against those who stand in their way. This case, brought against more than two dozen Native Mob members, including its leaders, exemplifies the broad reach and effectiveness of a federal RICO prosecution, which carries penalties of up to life in prison, in attacking violent criminal organizations. This investigation took several years and the cooperation of numerous local, state, federal, and tribal law enforcement agencies. Their hard work has made our communities safer.”
The Carlton County Sheriff’s Office, Fond du Lac Police Department and Minnesota State Patrol were among the agencies credited in the press release Tuesday announcing the jury’s decision.
The U.S. attorney’s office in Minnesota began prosecuting the Native Mob case more than a year ago and led to charges against 25 reputed members. They charged the defendants under the Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO) statute, the same statute used to charge members of the Mafia in a number of previous cases. The RICO statute is used not only to target individual criminals, but also the criminal organization to which they belong.
The three men were the only defendants who didn’t accept plea deals after 25 people were originally charged in a 57-count indictment.
Two Cloquet residents — Shelby Gene Boswell, 21, (AKA “Sweets”) and Samuel Kyle White, 24, were among the 22 who pleaded guilty before the trial.
Boswell had been charged with three counts: RICO conspiracy, conspiracy to use and carry firearms during and in relation to a crime of violence, and assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering. White was charged with the same three counts, plus an extra count of conspiracy to use and carry firearms during and in relation to a crime of violence.
On June 12, 2012, White pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy. Boswell pleaded guilty to assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering on June 11, 2012.
Boswell had previously boasted in court that he “used a bat when he joined a group of men dressed in red and black — the Native Mob’s colors — who savagely beat a young man, his father and his girlfriend in 2010,” according to a Star Tribune story written by Dan Browning in January.
According to the press release from the U.S. Justice Department, the evidence presented at trial proved that since at least the mid-1990s, the named defendants and others have conspired to conduct criminal activity through an “enterprise,” namely, the Native Mob, in violation of the federal RICO act. The primary objective of this “enterprise” is to preserve, protect, promote and enhance the Native Mob’s power, territory and financial gains.
To that end, the press release stated, “gang members distribute illegal drugs, from crack cocaine to ecstasy. They also provide monetary support to other members, including those incarcerated; share with one another police reports, victim statements, and other case discovery; hinder or obstruct officials from identifying or apprehending those wanted by the law; and intimidate witnesses to Native Mob crimes. Moreover, they maintain and circulate firearms for gang use and commit acts of violence, including murder, against individuals associated with rival gangs.”
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Some of the alleged crimes detailed in the case include the following:
• On March 4, 2010, McArthur, Cree and others attempted to kill a man by shooting him three times with a .40-caliber handgun, the attack being in retaliation for the man’s supposed cooperation with law enforcement. At the time of the shooting, the man was holding his 5-year-old daughter in his arms.
• On July 10, 2010, McArthur and others attended a meeting to discuss killing enemies of the Native Mob, the transportation of firearms from northern Minnesota to Minneapolis, the storage and location of gang firearms, drug trafficking, collecting money for incarcerated Native Mob members, and the identity of persons believed to be cooperating with law enforcement against the Native Mob.
• On March 7, 2010, in south Minneapolis, Native Mob members attempted to kill a Native Vice Lord gang member by shooting him in the neck.
• On Aug. 24, 2010, McArthur ordered members of the Native Mob to conduct a drive-by shooting of a rival gang member’s apartment in Bemidji.
• On March 28, 2011, McArthur ordered members of the Native Mob to conduct a home invasion in Cass Lake.
For their crimes, the defendants who were tried and convicted in this case face a potential maximum sentence of between 20 years and life in federal prison. Since the federal justice system does not have parole, prison terms will be served virtually in their entirety behind bars. United States District Court Judge John R. Tunheim will determine their sentences at a future hearing, yet to be scheduled.