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Local lawman recognized federally for Native Mob work

BEMIDJI -- Although he personally was recognized by the U.S. Attorney's Office recently, Bemidji Police Officer William Beise said he couldn't have done it alone.

Beise was presented with a plaque on May 29 at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Minneapolis for his work as a gang investigator on the Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force, work he performed while working the Native Mob case.

"I wasn't the only one, there were about 15 of us," Beise explained. "That's the whole thing about the case. This wasn't a one person case. We had unbelievable cooperation with agencies throughout the state."

Beise, however, was the key player for Bemidji and Beltrami County. He has been in law enforcement for 20 years and has dedicated 18 years to the City of Bemidji. Beise began serving as gang investigation officer with the task force in 2006 and worked the case through 2012. The gang officer position was a grant funded position which lost funding after five years. Beise is now a patrol officer with the BPD.

"Absolutely I miss it, everyday I go to work I miss it," Beise said. "A lot of agencies around the state lost the funding for gang officers."

Now narcotics officers on the task force handle gang investigations, Beise said .

Beise was instrumental in the federal case that resulted in 25 members of the Native Mob being charged with violating the federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The law prohibits conspiring to conduct illegal activity through a criminal enterprise in an effort to preserve, protect, promote and enhance the enterprise's power, territory and financial gains, according to a release issued by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The Native Mob investigation originated about the year 2001 in the Twin Cities. Eleven key agencies including the Bemidji Police Department and Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force worked together to investigate and eventually bust the Mob in 2013. More than 30 law enforcement and attorney's offices throughout Minnesota including the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office, Hubbard County Sheriff's Office, Leech Lake Tribal Police Department, Red Lake Tribal Police Department and White Earth Tribal Police Department assisted in the investigation.

The U.S. Department of Justice describes the Native Mob as a regional criminal gang that originated in Minneapolis in the early 1990s. Mob members have been linked to drug trafficking, assault, robbery and murder. Native Mob members were convicted of distributing illegal drugs including crack cocaine and ecstasy, providing monetary support to incarcerated members, obstructing justice and violent crimes.

The department estimated the Mob membership at 200 individuals in 2013, with recruitment including juveniles often from native American communities. Mob association is often signified by wearing red and black clothing or gang-related tattoos.

Beise was not able to speak specifically to details of the Native Mob case, as some individual cases are not yet closed.

Crystal Dey
Crystal Dey covers crime, courts, tribal relations and social issues for The Bemidji Pioneer in Bemidji, Minnesota. Originally from Minnesota’s Iron Range, Dey has worked for the Echo Press in Alexandria, Minnesota, The Forum in Fargo, North Dakota, The Tampa Tribune in Tampa, Florida, the Hartford Courant in Hartford and West Hartford News in West Hartford, Connecticut. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Crystal Dey on Twitter @Crystal_Dey.
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