MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – An indictment was unsealed by the U.S. Department of Justice, alleging an extensive crime ring connected with a number of Minnesotans.
The indictment alleges that roughly 200 people are members of a gang referred to as the “Native Mob.” The Department of Justice says new members have been recruited from communities with young Native American men.
According to the justice department, the gang has been in operation since the mid-1990s.
“Local, state, federal, and tribal investigators worked side by side to take down some of the most violent criminals in our state and, in the process, disrupt an extremely dangerous gang that diminishes the quality of life for those who live and work in Native American communities,” said U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones.
The indictment contains the names of six defendants who have been charged with 47 counts collectively, including, according to the justice department, “conspiracy to use and carry firearms during and in relation to a crime of violence, the use and carrying of firearms during and in relation to a crime of violence, assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, attempted murder in aid of racketeering, felon in possession of ammunition, felon in possession of a firearm, armed career criminal in possession of a firearm, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and a crime of violence, conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, distributing a controlled substance, and tampering with a witness.”
The six defendants who were apprehended on Tuesday and appeared in court later that day were: Dale Wesley Ballinger Jr., 20, of Isle; Damien Lee Beaulieu, 20, of Onamia; Aaron James Gilbert Jr., 24, Minneapolis; Cory Gene Oquist, 22, of Bemidji; Dale John Pindegayosh, 29, of Cass Lake; and Justen Lee Poitra, 26, of Cass Lake.
Raids were made Tuesday on White Earth, Mille Lacs, and Leech Lake Indian reservations, as well as in the Twin Cities. In addition to the six named in the indictment, 12 others are currently in custody. Officers are still seeking six others.
Dozens of state sheriff’s departments and police departments aided in the investigation, along with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and other agencies.