Three Native Mob members guilty in federal case

Three Native Mob members guilty in federal case
From the left: Wakinyon Wakan McArthur, William Earl Morris, Anthony Francis Cree.

After a nearly two-month-long trial, three members of the highly organized, Minneapolis-born Native Mob gang were found guilty in federal court Tuesday of a combined 16 counts, including racketeering and attempted murder.

The guilty verdicts mark a victory for prosecutors in a criminal investigation that began in 2004 and has netted more than two dozen alleged members of the dangerous Indian gang. Most of the defendants took guilty pleas before the trial. The three convicted Tuesday face between 20 years and life in prison.

"The Native Mob has wreaked havoc on tribal and non-tribal communities across Minnesota and our region," said U.S. Attorney Todd Jones in a statement. "Its members traffick in drugs and guns, using violence, intimidation, and in some instances, murder, against those who stand in their way."

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In January 2012, the U.S. Attorney's Office charged 24 alleged Native Mob gang members with a long list of federal crimes, including racketeering, drug dealing, illegal possession of firearms, and witness tampering. Many named in the indictment were already serving time, so law enforcement had to lock down prisons when making the arrests in order to avoid inmates tipping each other off. One additional alleged gang member was later added to the indictment.

Throughout the months following their arrests, most entered guilty pleas for considerably lesser charges. For example, one defendant, Damien Lee Beaulieu, faced 15 charges -- including two counts of attempted murder in aid of racketeering -- and pleaded guilty to one count of RICO conspiracy, a charge that allows for extended penalties for acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization.

In December, Shaun Michael Martinez, a.k.a. "Tinez," pleaded guilty to murdering fellow gang member Jeremee Kraskey in order to stop Kraskey from giving information to the police. According to prosecutors, on Feb. 26, 2011, Martinez drove Kraskey to a residence on the 3500 block of 14th Avenue South and shot him three times. Afterward, Martinez and Wakinyon Wakan McArthur, a.k.a. "Killa" and "Kon," held an emergency meeting to discuss the murder.

McArthur and defendant Anthony Francis Cree, a.k.a. "Pun," also once shot a guy three times in retaliation for cooperating with law enforcement. At the time, the victim was holding his five-year-old daughter.

In another incident, Native Mob members attempted to kill a rival Native Vice Lord in Minneapolis by shooting him in the neck. Gang members also once shot up another rival's apartment in Bemidji on McArthur's order.

McArthur, believed to be a leader in the gang, was found guilty this week on six counts, including RICO, conspiracy to use and carry firearms during and in relation to a crime of violence, and conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances. Cree was found guilty on six counts Tuesday. William Earl Morris was convicted on four counts.

"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," said Jones.

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