MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - More than a dozen gang members in the City of Minneapolis are now facing several federal charges in connection to violent acts and drug distribution.
Leveraging federal, state and local resources, "We saw an opportunity to bring significant federal charges," U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger said at a press conference Wednesday. "The charges present a chilling picture of the violence enacted on our city streets. We believe this strategy will protect public safety. All of us are focused on enhancing public safety by taking gang members off the streets."
Indictments previously unsealed in May charged 30 members and associates of the Highs and Bloods gangs with racketeering conspiracy (RICO Act) involving alleged murder, attempted murder, robbery, obstruction of justice, and drug trafficking. Separately, 15 other members of the same organizations have been charged in separate cases on drug and gun charges.
"When we announced the first round of arrests, we knew we would not allow violence to continue. We were serious then, and we’re serious now," Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara said Wednesday. "These arrests represent our commitment to reducing tragedy and trauma that have plagued our neighborhoods for too long… These arrests won’t be the last, and they will continue."
O’Hara said despite a Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) officer shortage, violent crime is decreasing to pre-pandemic levels throughout the city.
Meanwhile, federal authorities will remain focused on "dismantling" three Minneapolis-based gangs: the Highs, the Lows, and the Bloods.
The Highs have been operating since 2008 in north Minneapolis, mostly "congregating at specific businesses at West Broadway Avenue and Lyndale Avenue." Between April 2021 and September 2021, Highs and Lows gang members were allegedly involved in more than five murders, prosecutors say.
The Minneapolis Bloods chapter has been around for "several decades" working on the south side of Minneapolis.
"We have brought together charges against individuals who have wreaked havoc in our communities," said Hennepin County Sheriff Dawanna Witt on Wednesday. "People in every neighborhood deserve to live their lives free of fear."
Members in different gangs charged
Of those charged, two are alleged members of the Highs and Lows gangs based in north Minneapolis.
The Lows are a north Minneapolis criminal gang involved in "drug trafficking, firearm possession and acts of violence," according to charging documents. Different subsets of the gang also go by names including the "Skitz Squad."
According to charges, the Lows are currently engaged in a violent rivalry with the Highs.
On July 30, members of the MPD and Hennepin County Violent Offender Task Force (VOTF) were tasked with assisting law enforcement following a homicide that occurred the previous night when members of the Lows shot and killed members of the Highs, hoping to prevent retaliation.
A confidential informant told police that Ohagi Charles Walker had encouraged members to "get outside and get active" following the event, according to charges. Walker is believed to be the leader of the Skitz Squad, with his postings believed to result in several other shootings and homicides in north Minneapolis.
At around 10:45 p.m., following a vigil that are often used to "gather and then set out to retaliate against rival gangs," officers found a group of 20 vehicles in the parking lot of Medicine Lake Park.
Following the vigil, detectives followed a line of vehicles believed to be led by Walker, initiating a stop when his vehicle was spotted going 85 to 95 mph in a 55 mph zone.
Once exited the vehicle, detectives found a Polymer 80 .40 caliber pistol with a serial number under Walker’s seat – also known as a "ghost gun." At that point, he and two other passengers were arrested and transported to the Hennepin County Jail.
Walker had previously been convicted of at least one crime punishable by imprisonment while he was knowingly in possession of the gun and ammunition, according to charges.
Two days prior, on July 28, Jermaine William Jackson was charged with two counts of intending to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl.
A member of the Highs, which often include sects such as Young n Thuggin’ (YNT), Freeshotz/Freeshots, Say Less, Emerson Murder Boys (EMB), Tre Tre Crips, Body Gang, and more, Jackson was a member closely associated with the Tre Tre Crips, though membership is not exclusive and members often belong to and commit acts of crime for various sects.
In May 2022, the Dakota County Drug Task Force had begun surveillance on Jackson’s apartment in New Brighton following an investigation that led to the belief he had been selling "M-30" oxycodone pills to a man who previously overdosed in January.
When attempting to stop Jackson in the apartment parking lot, he fled from police, but stumbled and a backpack he was carrying was left behind. Upon searching the bag, investigators found approximately 115 pills, as well as, a loaded Glock 9mm handgun manufactured outside of Minnesota.
Upon searching his apartment, another 115 grams expected to be "M-30" pills were also discovered.
In addition to Walker and Jackson, several other gang members are also facing charges.
The following defendants are alleged members of the Lows gang:
- Michael Marshawn Dalton, 29, is charged with possessing a firearm as a felon
- Marquez Demar Hill-Turnipseed, 21, is charged with possession of a firearm as a felon and possession of a machine gun
- Shannon Aaron Kapriece Jackson, 31, is charged with possession of a firearm as a felon and possession with intent to distribute fentanyl
- Cartrell Ismail Smith, 27, is charged with possession of a firearm as a felon and possession with intent to distribute fentanyl
- Kaprice Richards, 22, is charged with possession of a firearm as a felon
- Clenest Demon Wells, Jr., 26, is charged with possession of a firearm as a felon
The following defendants are alleged members of the Highs gang:
- Adrion Kelley, 19, is charged with possession of a firearm as a felon
- Joe Lee Rudolph-Meeks, 28, is charged with possession of a firearm as a felon
The following defendants are alleged members of the 10z/20z gang:
- James Edward Hollman, Jr., 32, is charged with possession of a firearm as a felon
- Devon Lamont Holt, 33, is charged with possession of a firearm as a felon
- Marvin Miller, Jr., 35, is charged with possession of a firearm as a felon and possession of a machine gun
The following defendant is an alleged member of the Bloods gang:
- Dante Joseph Tyus, 29, is charged with possession of a firearm as a felon