Federal prosecutors say the Native Mob is a criminal organization that dealt drugs and spread fear through Indian Country, attacking rivals and informants who threatened its business.
Attorneys for three men facing racketeering charges in Minneapolis say the organization existed primarily to protect its members, and that any crimes they committed were random, spontaneous acts committed by violent individuals who were twisted by poverty, drug and alcohol abuse.
Jurors heard those arguments Tuesday at the close of a grueling seven-week trial involving 900 exhibits and more than 250 witnesses. Now it’s up to them to determine whether the defendants were members of an organized crime conspiracy, a determination that could send them to prison for life.
If not, the defense attorneys argued that they must acquit the defendants despite the fact that two of them testified openly about committing serious crimes.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Winter spent more than two hours recounting testimony that portrayed the Native Mob as a highly structured organization with bylaws, council meetings, promotions and demotions. And it shows a zeal for witness tampering, targeting anyone who threatens its existence, he said.
Winter played a recording of defendant Wakinyan Wakan McArthur, allegedly a leader of the group, saying that snitches who talk to the police are the biggest threat to the Native Mob’s existence.
Jurors heard endless streams of expletives and racial slurs in secretly recorded conversations as Native Mob members talked about going out to “smash” or “blam” rivals.
Winter said group members sold cocaine, crack, heroin and marijuana as part of the racketeering conspiracy, the purpose of which was to make money.
He ticked off a string of violent acts he said were committed by Native Mob members.
Defendant William Morris testified that he shot Amos LaDuke as he was carrying his 5-year-old daughter in 2010, but not because co-defendant Anthony Cree had ordered a hit, as the government alleged.
Morris said he shot LaDuke because they had a confrontation and he feared LaDuke would come after him. His attorney, Thomas Shiah, insisted that Morris is not even a member of the Native Mob, so he can’t be guilty of racketeering.
Shiah argued that the government was using the heavy hammer of the racketeering statute “to eradicate and eliminate a small portion of the Native American population.”
“It’s shock and awe,” Shiah said. Just because a Native Mob member commits a crime doesn’t make it part of a racketeering conspiracy, he said.
Defense attorneys Frederick Goetz, who represents McArthur, and John Brink, who represents Cree, acknowledged that their clients were Native Mob members. But they said no racketeering took place because any crimes committed were unforeseeable acts.