For 15 years, the Red Skin Kingz terrorized this remote section of the vast reservation.
UNITED STATES.- Down the road from Hank Blair’s trading post in the tiny community of Lukachukai on the Navajo Nation, a sign occasionally would pop up in a corn field saying the crop was ready.
But the announcement wasn’t for corn. It was a sign that a local gang was dealing a fresh supply of cocaine and methamphetamine.
For 15 years, the Red Skin Kingz terrorized this remote section of the vast reservation near the Arizona-New Mexico border. Dealing in drugs, murder, kidnapping, arson and aggravated and sexual assaults, the gang intimidated the community where law enforcement is more than 45 minutes away on a good day.
“They were the most organized, worst people that we’ve had around here forever,” said Blair, who has owned the Totsoh Trading Post for 34 years. “It was scary.”
Now, after the recent sentencing of three high-profile gang members, including a mother and son, authorities believe they have shut down the gang that meted out a level of violence not seen by gangs on the reservation since the 1990s.
Authorities conducted more than 300 interviews in the investigation of the Red Skin Kingz, using a task force made up of tribal, state and federal officials, said Michael Caputo, an FBI assistant special agent in charge for the Arizona district. It was formed in the mid- 1990s when the Navajo Nation saw an explosion of gang activity in and around its capital of Window Rock, with turf wars, drive-by shootings and retaliatory killings. The model since has expanded to other parts of Indian Country.
Navajo Nation residents, numbed to silence by a gang that raised its profile on social media and threatened people to keep them from talking to police, are encouraged but still wary.
“This investigation did cut off the head of the snake, if you will, and we took out all the main players that were involved in this gang,” Caputo said.