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Special police unit to focus on street gangs in Fargo area

FARGO, N.D. — A special police unit is planned to target gang members who have expanded their activity from the North Dakota oil patch to Fargo, law enforcement officials announced Thursday.

Police say that dozens of gang members primarily from Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis and California have decided to set up shop in the Fargo and Moorhead, Minnesota, metropolitan area because of its growing population and strong economy. It has led to armed robberies, drive-by shootings, drug dealing and sex trafficking.

“Some of these gang members are just driving through, coming through, running drugs to the Bakken,” Moorhead Police Chief David Ebinger said, referring to the western North Dakota oil fields. “This is a community of about a quarter of million people. They are going to stop here and they are going to ply their trade as they come through. Others have settled.”

Police said they have confirmed local gang activity by outfits known as the “Fast Money Boys,” ”Squad 400,” and “Lic Squad.” Authorities also are focusing on outlaw motorcycle gangs, after learning that the Hell’s Angels plan to establish their “area of influence,” Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney said.

Related: Gang members: to North Dakota and back again

“We have confirmed with law enforcement one serious altercation already, with a number of injuries, between the Hell’s Angels and Sons of Silence,” Laney said. “We’ve been advised the altercation was over the Fargo, Moorhead, West Fargo turf issue.”

Law enforcement noticed an uptick in gang movement about a year ago and started to gather information, Fargo Police Chief Dave Todd said.

“As we began to build cases and intelligence on that gang activity, we soon realized this activity was more than what we first realized, and extended into the communities that surround us,” he said.

The street crimes unit will have six members who will be able to work across state lines. Police said the task force is similar to a unit that disbanded about 20 years ago after eradicating a gang problem in the metro area.

Police said the activity is not limited to any one specific neighborhood in the metro area and are asking for the public’s help if they observe what appears to be gang activity.

Todd said the area is at a “tipping point” for getting a handle on the problem. Edinger issued a warning.

“It’s a peaceful, nice community, but it’s not an easy target,” Edinger said. “This is not low-hanging fruit and there’s going to be consequences to any effort to come in here and set up and break the law.”

This article was written by Dave Kolpack from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.