Operation 'Wild Kingdom' Nets 26 Arrests In Minnesota
Minneapolis - A year-long investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the St. Paul Police Department dubbed “Operation Wild Kingdom,” culminated early this morning when nearly 250 agents and officers from numerous local, federal, and state law enforcement agencies swept across the Twin Cities area conducting search warrants and arresting 26 people allegedly associated with the Latin Kings street gang.
Today’s arrests on federal narcotics and firearms trafficking charges represents one of the largest drug busts in Minnesota history.
A federal indictment charging the 26 people with, among other charges, conspiracy to distribute narcotics and firearms, was returned by a federal grand jury on February 22, 2006. The indictment was sealed pending today’s arrests.
The indictment alleges that during the course of the narcotics and firearms conspiracy, which stretched from January 2004 through February 2006, the defendants distributed and possessed with the intent to distribute methamphetamine, crack cocaine, powder cocaine, and marijuana.
Thomas Kelly, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Minneapolis District Office commented, “This investigation epitomizes what can be accomplished with the coordination and collaboration of local, state, and federal law enforcement married up with the DEA and the Organized Crime Drug Task Force. The outstanding contributions made by many law enforcement agencies, most notably by the St. Paul Police Department, cannot be minimized. Throughout this investigation, the St. Paul Police Department has been a true partner.”
“Today’s successful operation is a testimony to community policing,” commented Chief John Harrington, St. Paul Police Department. “The joint efforts of the St. Paul Police Department with the DEA and numerous local and state agencies, demonstrates the effectiveness of our working together in partnership. In addition to these criminal charges, this investigation is a big step forward in St. Paul’s effort to continue our problem solving effort to fight the spread of gangs and drugs, and the misery they bring to our city. Through this effort, St. Paul has been able to address a criminal network which as plagued our city for over two decades. I hope this case sends a message to gangsters: your presence is not welcome nor will it be tolerated here.”
Those arrested today are scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Boylan at 1:30 p.m. on March 8, 2006.
The case is the result of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the St. Paul Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Chris Wilton and David Steinkamp.
Agents and officers from 19 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies assisted the DEA and the St. Paul Police Department during the investigation and execution of arrest and search warrants. Those agencies include: the Airport Police Department; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; Dakota County Drug Task Force; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office; Hopkins Police Department; Internal Revenue Service; U.S. Marshals Service; Minneapolis Police Department Narcotics Unit; Minnesota Department of Corrections; Minnesota Gang Strike Force; Minnesota State Patrol; St. Paul Police Department Gang Unit; Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office; Roseville Police Department; U.S. Secret Service; Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office; Superior Police Department Vice/Narcotics Bureau; and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.