MINNEAPOLIS — In a press conference at the federal courthouse in Minneapolis Wednesday afternoon, U.S. Attorney Andy Luger announced charges against more than 40 people he says had a role in gang activity and gun violence in the Twin Cities over the last several years.
Luger said 45 members and associates of the Highs and Bloods gangs, which operate in north Minneapolis and south Minneapolis, respectively, are being charged under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, aka RICO.
Charges are being brought against 28 members of the Highs and 17 members of the Bloods, connected to 20 shootings and seven murders from 2016 to today. Luger said more indictments are forthcoming.
"Today’s announcement marks a fundamental change in how we address gang violence," Luger said. "Starting with these charges we are prosecuting street gangs as the criminal organization they are."
By using RICO, the feds can establish the Highs and the Bloods are involved in criminal enterprise, and their members can all be prosecuted together instead of one crime at a time. RICO was created in 1970 to try to take down the Mafia.
The announcement comes one year after a federal violent crime initiative was launched in Minneapolis, resulting in the creation of a gang unit in the US Attorney's office.
WATCH: U.S. Attorney discusses indictments targeting Twin Cities street gangs
"For far too long, the shootings and violence detailed in these indictments have been normalized. As has the impact and harm that is suffered by our most vulnerable residents," Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O'Hara said Wednesday.
"But let me be clear. There is absolutely nothing normal about the disgusting levels of violence and crime detailed in these complaints. It is outrageous, it is entirely unacceptable and it will not stand."
This is a developing story. KARE 11 will have more information as new details become available.
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