MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Six individuals indicted for alleged connections with organized crime have pleaded not guilty to charges filed against them.
The indictment from the U.S. Department of Justice alleged an extensive crime ring connected with roughly 200 people. The justice department says the “Native Mob” has also recruited members from communities with young Native American men.
Earlier this week, raids were made on White Earth, Mille Lacs, and Leech Lake Indian reservations, as well as in the Twin Cities. In addition to the six men named in the indictment, 12 others were taken in custody and officers said they were still seeking six others.
Two of the six men named in the indictment — Aaron James Gilbert Jr., 24, Minneapolis; and Justen Lee Poitra, 26, of Cass Lake — were released on bail on Thursday.
Three others — Dale Wesley Ballinger Jr., 20, of Isle; Cory Gene Oquist, 22, of Bemidji; Dale John Pindegayosh, 29, of Cass Lake — were ordered to remain in custody by the court.
Damien Lee Beaulieu, 20, of Onamia, was scheduled for a detention hearing Friday morning.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Minnesota announced a seventh defendant — 21-year-old Matthew Steven Poitra of Minneapolis — turned himself in and will appear in federal court Friday to face conspiracy and firearms charges.
In addition, Jason Francis Poitra, 26, turned himself in Friday morning and will be making his initial court appearance at 2:00 p.m. before a judge in St. Paul. Irah Lee Goodwin, 25, who was previously in federal custody on related charges, will also appear before that same judge.
According to the justice department, the “Native Mob” gang has been in operation since the mid-1990s.
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.