Remarks as Prepared for Delivery
Thank you, U.S. Attorney Luger.
The Department of Justice has no greater responsibility, and no greater priority, than keeping the American people safe. But as you just heard, Minneapolis has faced an unprecedented spike in violent crime in recent years. Gangs have held this community hostage, terrorizing local residents, running their operations from local businesses, and engaging in blood feuds with rival groups, all tearing at the very fabric of society.
These gangs – including the Highs and the Bloods – pose a greater danger to society than those who commit isolated incidents. These groups often have a hierarchy, engage in long-running, bloody disputes with other gangs, and can recruit young, often susceptible children, into their illicit ways.
These organized criminal groups require an organized response from law enforcement, and that is where the Criminal Division’s resources and expertise come to bear.
Our Organized Crime and Gang Section (OCGS) is the nation’s foremost expert on the federal racketeering laws, litigating cases across the country and reviewing all RICO indictments to ensure this important statute is applied consistently. As U.S. Attorney Luger explained, RICO is an important tool that allows the department to target not only those individuals who carry out crimes but also take on the group’s leadership to truly dismantle a criminal organization.
The two racketeering indictments announced today – charging a total of 30 gang members and associates – allege horrific acts of violence, including the commission of seven murders, over a dozen additional shootings, multiple robberies, trafficking in dangerous and addictive drugs like fentanyl and methamphetamine, and more.
Today, we have dealt a significant blow to the street gangs of Minneapolis, and 45 defendants are now facing federal charges.
I am immensely proud of the work of our OCGS Trial Attorneys Brian Lynch and Ben Tonkin who worked tirelessly to help secure these indictments. And I also commend the outstanding work of the entire OCGS team – including Chief David Jaffe, Principal Deputy Chief Kim Dammers, Deputy Chief Kelly Pearson, and our RICO review team led by Principal Deputy Chief Doug Crow and Trial Attorney Hans Miller.
This team also worked seamlessly alongside our partners in the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Indeed, this case is a textbook example of what can be accomplished when all of the components of the Department of Justice work together, shoulder to shoulder, with our local partners, and other agencies.
This case is also the latest instance of how, through strategic partnerships, the Criminal Division is combatting violent crime across the nation. Last September, I announced an initiative in Houston, Texas, to identify the worst of the worst gangs and their members who are disproportionately responsible for violent crime in underserved communities. Working alongside the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas, our Organized Crime and Gang Section has surged resources and deployed its expertise – including the use of RICO charges – to tackle gangs who have terrorized communities in Houston.
But make no mistake, we cannot combat violent crime through prosecution or incarceration alone. Enforcement is a tool, and an important one, but it is not our only tool. As this city knows all too well, we must engage with the community to understand its plight and build necessary trust – that we are here to help solve community problems, not cause them. I am confident that, through our continuing work, we can help build safer, stronger communities for us all.
I will now turn it back to U.S. Attorney Luger.