Fourteen alleged Minneapolis gang members — including two senior leaders of a prominent group — face new federal gun and drug charges as part of the government's latest push to bring down violence in the Twin Cities.

It is the second round since May of major charges targeting a set of street gangs blamed for much of the blood spilled during a three-year spike in gun crimes. Coming on the heels of complex criminal conspiracy charges filed against 45 alleged members of the Highs and Bloods street gangs this year, Wednesday's announcement now focused on the rival Lows gang from north Minneapolis by outlining the use of illegal machine guns and fentanyl trafficking throughout dozens of pages of charging documents.

"These are violent offenders who we wanted to get off the street quickly," U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger said in a news conference announcing the charges.

Unlike those first cases, this week's new arrests do not include charges under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), which is used to charge a collective group of co-conspirators for taking part in organized crime.

While prosecutors and agents are still building RICO cases, Luger said Wednesday, "we saw an opportunity to bring significant federal charges against a large number of gang members," some of whom were either being investigated in connection with fatal shootings this year or arrested before they could carry out what investigators believe were plans for retaliatory shootings.

Those arrested include two alleged high-ranking members of the Minneapolis Lows gang, both of whom were taken into custody in recent weeks: Ohagi Charles Walker, 27, and Shannon Aaron Kapriece Jackson, 31.

Walker — identified as a leader of the Skitz Squad, a subset of the Lows — was arrested this month on charges of possessing a firearm as a felon. Law enforcement investigating reports of planned retaliatory violence after the July 30 murder of a Lows gang member by a shooter from the Highs found a privately made "ghost gun" in Walker's car after he fled a candlelight vigil the following evening. According to charges, an informant told police that Walker was on social media and his cell phone encouraging other gang members to "get outside and get active" after the previous night's slaying.

Jackson was arrested on the same day but under a separate criminal complaint outlining counts of fentanyl possession, illegal gun possession and using a gun in furtherance of drug trafficking. According to charges, investigators learned through an informant that Jackson was a high-ranking member of the Stick Up Boys, also a Lows affiliate.

Jackson had a probable cause pickup issued by the Minneapolis Police Department in connection with an April 2023 homicide in which the gun used hadn't been recovered. When the ATF searched his home July 28, they arrested both Jackson and Cartrell Ismail Smith, 27, for allegedly possessing fentanyl pills and two Glock pistols, both outfitted with conversion devices that can render the guns capable of firing dozens of rounds within seconds.

Such devices — commonly called "switches" or auto sears — have become a focus of Luger's violent crime strategy and factored heavily throughout Wednesday's cases: Eight of the 14 new defendants are accused of possessing guns equipped with these machine gun conversion devices. Two of the cases also involved privately made firearms, often referred to as "ghost guns," and two seized guns were outfitted with extended magazines.

Other alleged Lows members facing gun and/or drug charges in this new operation include: Michael Marshawn Dalton, 29; Marquez Demar Hill-Turnipseed, 21; Kaprice Richards, 22; and Clenest Demon Wells Jr., 26.

Three new alleged Highs members were also charged: Jermaine William Jackson Jr., 26; Adrion Kelley, 19; and Joe Lee Rudolph-Meeks, 28.

The charges include three alleged members of the 10z/20z gang: James Edward Hollman, Jr., 32; Devon Lamont Holt, 33; and Marvin Miller Jr., 35.

And one more alleged Bloods member has been charged: Dante Joseph Tyus, 29.

All 14 of those charged are in custody, Luger said. Messages were left seeking comment from the attorneys listed for those charged.

"We were surprised by the federal charge against Mr. Rudolph-Meeks," said Thomas Plunkett, one of the attorneys. "It is early in the case so we are gathering information."

At Wednesday's news conference, Luger, Hennepin County Sheriff Dawanna Witt and Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O'Hara each credited the ongoing enforcement operations with a recent decline in violent crime in Minneapolis.

"We are working together with our law enforcement partners and our community members to take our streets back," Witt said. "We don't want people living in fear."

O'Hara said Wednesday that "127 fewer families have had a loved one affected by gun violence" so far this year as compared to this point in 2022. He said that conditions have calmed dramatically in one stretch on the city's northside — the West Broadway and Lyndale corridor — that has historically been a hot spot for shootings. There, the chief said, just one person has been shot so far this year — compared to 30 at this point in 2022 and 38 in 2021.

Prosecutors last week won their first trial conviction of an alleged Bloods member charged in May's first wave of cases when a jury convicted Nathan John Walz, 35, of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, possession of a firearm as a felon, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking.

But Luger pointed out that many of the crimes described in this latest set of charges were carried out after the first set of gang cases came out in May.

"We need people to understand how focused and serious we are," Luger said.