Local and federal authorities on Wednesday announced the indictments of seven people on charges of running a major drug smuggling operation that stretched from north Minneapolis to Fargo, N.D.
All of those charged are suspected members of the Taliban and Young ’N Thuggin’ (YNT) — two North Side gangs that for years had been locked in a fierce turf battle with the 1-9 street gang and its offshoot the Stick Up Boys.
One of the defendants remained at large, U.S. Attorney Andy Luger said Wednesday at a news conference at downtown Minneapolis police headquarters.
For months, the alleged members of the gangs traveled to Fargo, Duluth and St. Cloud to deal crack cocaine and heroin, which sold significantly more in those places than in the Twin Cities, authorities said.
For example, an “eight ball” of crack (around 3.2 to 3.5 grams) that sold for around $150 in the Twin Cities could fetch as much as $250 in St. Cloud, according to court documents.
“Late last year we indicted more than a dozen members of two violent Minneapolis gangs, the 19-Dipset and Stick Up Boys,” Luger said. “We are today announcing a new indictment of their main rivals. Leaders and members of the Taliban and YNT are charged with using violence and intimidation to control a drug distribution operation stretching from Minneapolis to Fargo.”
The 29-count indictment came after a more than four-year investigation by the FBI’s Safe Streets task force that included court-ordered wiretaps and tips from confidential, court documents said.
Those charged are: Louis “G.I.” Banks, Cortez “Tez” Blakemore, Terrell “Get Right” Roberson, Laquedrick “Quady” As-Sadiq, Carnel “Boo Man” Harrison, Dejuan “DJ” Washington and Donte “Five” Smith.
When contacted on Wednesday, most attorneys for the defendants declined to comment.
Kenneth Udoibok, a Minneapolis-based lawyer who represents Blakemore, said that the government was unfairly targeting his client, who had been paralyzed in an earlier shooting and now required round-the-clock care.
Luger said the indictments dealt a major blow to the gang, which also trafficked guns. He would not detail the size of the criminal operation.
Ben Petok, a spokesman for Luger’s office, declined to comment on “any evidence that may be introduced at trial, or upon conviction, at sentencing.”
For months, dealers would sell their product from apartments around St. Cloud, which were usually rented out by someone addicted to crack in exchange for the drug, the court documents said. After they had exhausted their drug supply, the dealers would return to the cities to load up again, authorities said.
The development comes less than six months after a gang arrest in which 11 high-ranking 1-9 and Stick Up Boys members were indicted on federal drug charges.
By bringing federal charges, authorities will be able to seek more stringent sentences.
The long-running turf war between these gangs resulted in at least six killings and numerous shootings in recent years, following the high-profile killing of a high-ranking 1-9 gang member in downtown Minneapolis in 2013.
The feud was fanned by a series of inflammatory videos posted on YouTube and Facebook, in which rival gang members taunted one another, which led to a series of shootings on the North Side, according to court documents.