The talk around the U.S. Courthouse in Minneapolis has been that more criminal cases are showing up in federal courtrooms since Andy Luger was sworn in as U.S. Attorney for Minnesota in mid-February last year.

New data obtained by the Star Tribune appear to bear that out.

Overall indictments are up from 183 in 2013 to 303 in 2014, an increase of 66 percent. In addition, more defendants are being indicted, rising from 235 in 2013 to 495 in 2014, a 110 percent jump.

The U.S. attorney’s office declined to discuss the increases, but Luger has repeatedly and publicly stated that he has an aggressive law enforcement style.

He has vowed to stop the flood of heroin into Minnesota and made visits to county attorneys around the state, where he has encouraged them to refer drug cases to the U.S. attorney’s office.

Asked why he believed that the federal prosecution numbers rose, Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said Tuesday that, “leadership starts at the top.” He said “Luger has worked hard to be our partner.”

He said it helped that Luger was a former assistant U.S. attorney (in both Brooklyn and in Minneapolis).

Stanek said another reason is that Luger is “paying attention to local law enforcement to reduce the incidence of violent crime in our community, and that includes narcotics, gangs and countering violent extremism.”

He said that local law enforcement was pleased with the new cooperative efforts with Luger’s office and he was “proud to be his partner.”

Other data obtained by the Star Tribune shows that federal narcotics indictments jumped from 28 to 63 from 2013 to 2014, narcotics defendants rose from 44 to 166 and the number of heroin defendants climbed from 2 to 50 — a 2,400 percent increase in one year.

The number of federal defendants in firearms and Hobbs Act cases, which cover robbery and extortion charges, increased from 44 to 79.


Twitter: @randyfurst