'Undisputed leader' of Native Mob sentenced; federal case nears end

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A Cass Lake man described by prosecutors as the "undisputed leader" of the regional Native Mob street gang was sentenced Tuesday to 43 years in prison, the Star Tribune reports.

Wakinyon Wakan McArthur, 36, was found guilty in March of 2013 on six counts, including racketeering, the FBI said in a press release at the time.

In the release, the FBI lays out different actions prosecutors say McArthur was involved in over a yearlong period beginning in March of 2010, including:

  • A drive-by shooting intended to kill a man, which happened while the victim was walking with his young daughter.
  • A meeting to discuss killing fellow Native Mob members, transporting firearms from northern Minnesota to Minneapolis, drug trafficking, collecting money for mob members in prison, identifying people they believed to be working with law enforcement, and more.
  • Ordering a drive-by shooting of a rival gang member's apartment in Bemidji
  • Ordering a home invasion in Cass Lake.

On Tuesday, at a courtroom the Star Tribune described as having extra security, McArthur was sentenced to 43 years in prison which he must serve 85 percent of, giving him a chance to get out at some point. The paper reports he expressed remorse for his actions at the sentencing.

According to the FBI, the Native Mob originated in Minneapolis in the early 1990s, and is now most active in Minnesota and Wisconsin. The 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment called the Native Mob one of the largest and most violent American Indian gangs in the U.S. Membership is estimated at 200, with new members – including juveniles – regularly recruited from communities with large, male, Native American populations.

2 more sentencings wrap case

In addition to McArthur, 26-year-old Anthony Francis Cree from Cass Lake was sentenced Tuesday for his role as a "soldier" in the crime syndicate, the Star Tribune says.

He and McArthur become the 26th and 27th members of the Native Mob to be sent to prison as a result of the federal investigation. One more sentencing was scheduled Tuesday – 37-year-old William Earl Morris – but things ran long and his sentencing was rescheduled for Friday, the paper says.

Both were convicted at the same time as McArthur – Cree on six counts, including charges of attempted murder and racketeering; and Morris on four counts.

Of the more than two dozen suspected mob members charged as part of a 57-count indictment, McArthur, Cree and Morris were reportedly the only three who did not accept a plea deal. Charges against some of the other suspects include murder, possession of a firearm, methamphetamine trafficking, assault and racketeering conspiracy.

A 'scourge' in American Indian communities

Violence perpetrated by the Native Mob was not limited to disputes with rival gangs.

In winter of 2011, Native Mob member Jeromee Jon Kraskey, 32 years old at the time, was murdered in south Minneapolis – shot in the head in an alley. Shawn Michael Martinez, also a member of the mob, pleaded guilty and in the summer of 2013 was sentenced to 43 years in prison.

“Learn from my story. Put yourself in [Jeromee’s] place, his children’s place or my place. I want people to really think about this," Kraskey's mother Crsytal Goose told Indian Country Today Media Network after her son's death, in a piece called "Native Mob: A Scourge in Minnesota Plagues Indian Communities."

Men like Goose's son have few male role models, she told the network, and because of that are vulnerable to being seduced by the gang. He was in and out of prison, got a job in a machine shop but then got laid off and picked up another felony conviction – making it harder for him to get another job, she said.

And the Native Mob was there. Present not just in life for Kraskey, but in death – Goose told the network some mob members actually showed up to his funeral, which incensed her.

“The Mob is manipulative and smooth," she said she tells her grandchildren, "but they are dangerous.”

After the January 2012 indictment, MPR reported authorities tracked a decrease in gang activity in some tribal areas, which they credited to the arrests. A Leech Lake narcotics officer, Dave Ulberg, said warrants to search suspected crack houses dropped 70 percent; for other drugs, it fell 40 percent. In addition, he said the arrests made the fear of retribution for working with law enforcement less of a factor, and more information was being shared.

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