A member of one of the nation's most violent American Indian gangs admitted Friday in a plea deal to fatally shooting a fellow gang member thought to have been a police informant.
Native Mob member Shaun Michael Martinez pleaded guilty to the murder of Jeremee Jon Kraskey, whose body was found riddled with gunshots in a south Minneapolis back yard last year.
The plea came during a high-profile federal case in which 25 suspected members of the gang face numerous charges, including assault, drug trafficking and attempted murder.
Twenty-one suspects have pleaded guilty, but Martinez, also known as Tinez, was the only one charged with killing someone.
His plea symbolizes a major victory for investigators who worked to uncover the inner workings of the highly organized gang, known for drug dealing, robberies and shootings.
"Members of the Native Mob, like those involved in any street gang, are dangerous to the public at large, but also to their own community," said B. Todd Jones, the U.S. attorney in Minnesota, in a release. "They prey on the vulnerable, often coercing or enticing young people to join their criminal organizations. ... We must break that cycle. It is up to all of us to do our part as a community to put an end to it."
On Friday, Martinez, 34, dressed in an orange jumpsuit, answered questions about his involvement in the Native Mob gang, in which he had been a member since 2000, and the shooting of Kraskey. Members of Kraskey's family wept in the courtroom as Martinez affirmed how Kraskey was killed.
The Native Mob gang, made up of around 200 members, originated in Minneapolis in the 1990s. Its influence stretches from the Twin Cities to reservations across Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota.
According to the indictment, the gang recruits people, including juveniles, from prison and communities with a large number of Indian men. The gang has a hierarchical structure as well as bylaws and meetings. Retaliation isn't uncommon.
"Acts of violence, including murder and attempted murder, would be committed by members and associates of the Native Mob against rival gang members and to impose discipline within the Native Mob itself," the indictment said.
Kraskey's death is a grim example of the gang's violent, retaliatory practices.
In February of 2011, Martinez started to suspect that Kraskey was or would become an informant for state and federal law enforcement. Early on the morning of Feb. 26, after other Native Mob members lured Kraskey to Martinez's home, Martinez drove Kraskey to a residence in Minneapolis' Powderhorn Park neighborhood and shot him three times.
Martinez has refused to testify against those other gang members.
He will face at least 43 years behind bars, a prison term that prosecutors agreed to recommend as part of the plea agreement. U.S. District Judge John Tunheim will formally accept or reject the agreement at the time of the sentencing.
The plea agreement was made public at the request of Martinez. "He just has made this decision that he wants to be accountable," said his attorney, Jon Hopeman.
The trial for the remaining suspects is scheduled to begin Jan. 22.
Nicole Norfleet • 612-673-4495 Twitter: @stribnorfleet