Minnesota's prisons locked down as feds target Indian gang

24 alleged members of Native Mob were indicted.

Damien Lee Beaulieu

Photo: Anoka County jail,

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Federal charges against two dozen suspected members of an Indian gang were revealed on Wednesday in what authorities called a "sweeping racketeering indictment'' intended to "disrupt an extremely dangerous gang."

The 47-count indictment alleges that the Native Mob's gang activity in Minnesota reached back at least a decade and included murder, assault, drug trafficking and robbery.

Six suspects were arrested on Tuesday, 12 were already incarcerated in state or county facilities on other charges and six remain at large.

The Native Mob has long been a terrorizing presence in south Minneapolis neighborhoods, Third Precinct Inspector Lucy Gerold said. "Anything that brings them down will bring significant peace to a number of people," she said.

Gerold said the gang has battled for turf and been responsible for shootings, aggravated assaults and drug dealing. Its members also had ties to Native Mob chapters in several outstate locations. "They've just been consistently present," Gerold said.

A history of violence

Christopher Grant, an Indian gang specialist and former head of the police anti-gang unit in Rapid City, S.D., said the Native Mob has a longstanding history of violent behavior. "I consider Native Mob to be one of the most significant and problematic Native American-based gangs in the U.S.," he said.

The indictment gives detailed insight into the gang, including its hierarchical structure complete with a "chief" and a "co-chief," gang bylaws and "council" meetings.

According to the indictment, members actively recruited new members, including juveniles, from communities with a large number of Indians, as well as from prisons.

The indictment alleged that "to protect the gang and enhance its reputation, Native Mob members were expected to use any means necessary to force respect from those who showed disrespect, including acts of intimidation and violence."

The indictment listed several instances of alleged members shooting at rival gangs. It also noted an incident in March 2010 in which a man who was cooperating with law enforcement was shot three times while he held his 5-year-old daughter.

Native Mob members regularly communicated with incarcerated members and financially supported them, the indictment said.

No calls in or out

To make sure word about the arrests didn't get out from within the state's prisons, there was a 25-hour lockdown of Minnesota's inmates from Tuesday morning through Wednesday, Department of Corrections spokesman John Schadl said.

During the lockdown, inmates were confined to their cells and no incoming or outgoing phone calls to prisoners nor visitors were allowed.

"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 B. Todd Jones, the U.S. attorney for Minnesota.

The six arrested on Tuesday were identified as Dale Wesley Ballinger Jr., 20, Isle; Damien Lee Beaulieu, 20, Onamia; Aaron James Gilbert Jr., 24, Minneapolis; Cory Gene Oquist, 22, Bemidji; Dale John Pindegayosh, 29, Cass Lake, and Justen Lee Poitra, 26, Cass Lake.

Beaulieu by far was charged with the most counts. Those 15 allegations range from attempted murder in aid of racketeering to assault with a dangerous weapon to intent to distribute controlled substances. He remains in the Anoka County jail.

Staff Writer Matt McKinney contributed to this report. nicole.norfleet@startribune.com • 612-673-4495 pwalsh@startribune.com • 612-673-4482

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