On Friday United States Attorney for Minnesota Andrew Luger called a press conference to discuss the strategy he is pursuing with other state and federal law enforcement agencies to address violent crime in the Twin Cities. Alpha News has posted the CrimeWatch account of the press conference here. Stephen Montemayor’s longer and more detailed Star Tribune story is here. Both stories reflect telling statements by Luger on the local crisis of lawless violence.
As in so many other Democratic strongholds, violent crime is out of control here. Luger’s relatively forthright description of the anarchic situation is worth taking in for that reason alone. Here is a long excerpt of Montemayor’s story:
“What law enforcement is encountering on the streets of Minneapolis, St. Paul and other cities today is far more disturbing than even the alarming numbers show,” Luger said. “By their actions, their weapons and their words, violent offenders are displaying an absolute disdain for the law and a disregard for human life.”
Luger unveiled the results of the Thursday raids with an hourlong morning news conference in his office alongside nearly a dozen federal and state law enforcement leaders from the area.
He illustrated a criminal landscape where violent offenders feel more emboldened to deploy militaristic weapons while trafficking potentially lethal doses of fentanyl all out of a belief that they will not be caught or held accountable. Luger attributed that ethos to feedback from some of those arrested in recent operations.
More than 100 officers — including those from out-of-state special response teams — convened in the Twin Cities on Thursday to arrest 15 people on federal gun charges. The operation included the seizure of 29 firearms and three auto sear devices used to turn otherwise semiautomatic weapons into fully automatic machine guns, Luger said.
The special response teams, a tactical group, travel to high-crime areas to help arrest those deemed to present the highest risk of violence.
“While we are fortunate that two of these elite teams traveled to our communities to arrest high-level targets,” Luger said, “it is sad news that we in Minnesota need them in the first place. But we do.”
Jeffrey Reed, assistant special agent in charge of the St. Paul division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), said Friday that local divisions call in such teams based on certain offenders’ criminal histories and potential for violence.
Thursday’s deployment of the teams was precautionary, Reed said, and the five suspects deemed “high risk” were safely arrested. This was just the latest example of resources pouring in from elsewhere to assist in the Twin Cities: Reed said the ATF’s St. Paul division has pulled in research specialists and additional agents from other divisions to increase its capacity this summer.
“Right now the top priority on every law enforcement officer’s mind is reducing the violent gun crime that is affecting the Twin Cities,” he said.
Also Thursday, federal drug enforcement agents and state authorities arrested 10 people in the Rochester area on federal methamphetamine conspiracy charges while seizing drugs and firearms during their arrests.
Luger made prosecuting violent crime his top focus upon beginning his second term as U.S. Attorney this year. He has ordered all criminal prosecutors to handle violent crime cases and plans to also prosecute such cases himself.
Luger said Friday that his office has charged about 35 “high-risk” offenders in recent weeks with crimes ranging from serial convenience store robbery, carjacking, illegal firearms possession and other gang-related activities.
He highlighted the recent case of Derrick Scott, a man with eight prior felony convictions before being arrested for allegedly selling fentanyl pills and possessing a machine gun to protect his trade. When brought into custody, Luger said, Scott told officers he would have no trouble doing federal prison time before returning to the street.
“He then proclaimed, ‘I will still be the king,'” Luger said.
The crisis described by Luger is an indictment of the abdication by state and local authorities, from Governor Tim Walz on down. That’s not the way Luger puts it, but the inference is one step removed from his account of the status quo. I have posted video of the press conference below.