The U.S. Attorney for Minnesota Andrew Luger announced Tuesday that his office will lead a federal crackdown on violent crime in Minnesota in collaboration with state and local law enforcement agencies.
Luger said that federal law enforcement and his office will become more actively involved in combating and prosecuting violent crime cases in the Twin Cities, focusing particularly on gun crime, gang violence, and carjackings.
This will include the expansion of the U.S. Attorney's Office so that every federal prosecutor is handling violent crime cases on top of their existing prosecutorial responsibilities, while the office will also hire more prosecutors.
"We do not say that enough — everyone deserves to feel safe and secure," he said during a press conference, adding that "in the coming weeks and months" his office will announce a series of federal charges "that will bring justice to victims and their families."
A crackdown on carjacking will be prioritized, with those involved now facing federal charges that could lead to time in a federal prison. Luger said the strategy will also target illegal gun crimes, the proliferation of illegal gun modifications and "ghost guns," gang activity, and lead to "stiffer" sentences for those who are prosecuted and convicted.
According to Luger, last year, there were more than 650 carjackings in Minneapolis and over 100 in St. Paul, though recent figures from MPD suggests that carjackings have dropped since peaking in November.
Luger noted that his office is discussing and working on prosecuting juveniles involved in violent crime, but for the time being it's "tough" for his office to do so.
Luger believes putting more attorneys on these types of cases will be a "big change."
He was joined at the press conference by ATF Special Agent William McCrary, who said: "We've already identified numerous violent offenders throughout the Twin Cities and other key areas of Minnesota. The full support that the U.S. Attorney [Andrew Luger] is announcing here today will help us secure prosecutions needed to remove these violent offenders from the streets and away from the hard-working people of our communities."
Luger said a community outreach was done, involving victims of crimes and community members, before this decision was made. There is no end goal to when this initiative will cease operations, but Luger said it will continue "until it's not needed."
Also in attendance Tuesday was acting Minneapolis Police Department Chief Amelia Huffman. The enhanced federal involvement follows a period in which MPD in particular has struggled to get to grips with violent crime, with the department losing more than 300 officers since the civil unrest that followed George Floyd's killing by then-MPD officer Derek Chauvin.
Earlier this year, a new contract was passed to increase bonuses in an attempt to boost numbers, but it was criticized for failing to make sufficient changes to contractual disciplinary measures. MPD is also having to deal with increased scrutiny from state and federal officials, with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights seeking legal action to force changes after an investigation found a culture of racial discrimination endemic within MPD.