Inside an undercover FBI Milwaukee task force targeting violent criminals

MILWAUKEE - There is a group of undercover officers that work every day to find and capture the most dangerous criminals in Milwaukee.

The Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Gang Task Force is made up of FBI agents and Milwaukee Police officers. They took TODAY'S TMJ4 inside their operations to see how they get bad guys.

Most operations start when Milwaukee and hopefully the criminals are sleeping. The team gets gears up and gets orders to where they are heading before the sun even rises.

"Our main focus is violent offenders," said FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Robert Botsch. "We are interested in the shooters"

TODAY'S TMJ4 followed along with agents for four months as they hit the city's most violent areas. 

"It doesn't take a lot of people to generate a lot of havoc," said Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn.

They issued search warrants and raided homes.

TODAY'S TMJ4 was there as officers swept homes looking for guns, drugs and money, and at traffic stops that were started after undercovers in the neighborhood saw suspected criminal activity.

After pulling over a suspect, an unidentified MPD officer said "He's got illegally tinted windows. His girlfriend had a CCW permit and she had her gun on her. I believe he is a convicted felon."

According to police, the man is a felon and he cannot be in a car with a gun. Plus they recovered $10,000 cash inside the car. 

But the idea of the gang task force is not always to make arrests. Often times people are pulled over and let go. That is because undercover officers are after something bigger.

"If these particular neighborhoods are controlled by some of the violent street gangs that we target, we are going to go in there for the purpose of developing informants," said FBI Supervisory Special Agent Jason Soule. 

That information leads to getting the city's most dangerous criminals. Most recently the gang task force was on the hunt for a man who shot at Milwaukee police in September.

They arrested Alfredo Montanez. Agents said he is affiliated with the Latin Kings. 

"There are drug gangs out there that are violent, that uses violence to collect debts, violence to rip off other drug dealers. Violence to compete for territory," Flynn said.

Agents and officers said often the hardest thing is to get people in a neighborhood controlled by crime to work with the police. 

We went back to those same areas without agents, spending time with neighbors. Many did not want to talk to on camera. Some long-term residents said crime and violence are rampant.

Others said police aren't out to help them.

"You can't walk around without being consider a target," said resident Tony Evan. "They only harass you just to see your ID and when you resist because you know you did no wrong they say you are provoking them."

The task force started three years ago to take down a violent crew on the city's north side, the 29 Taliban street gang. After their arrests the task force expanded to target gangs throughout the city.

Since then gang task force racked up:

  • Approximately 330 arrests
  • Approximately 270 gun recoveries 
  • Approximately 150 search warrants
  • Approximately 425 drug seizures
  • Approximately $440,000 USC seized
  • Approximately 92 indictments/informants

The task force has both federal and state court convictions in Christopher Anderson. The known gang member was convicted of killing two people. 

Anderson also dumped gasoline on a man, set him on fire and shot at the victim as he ran for his life. He is now currently on trial for another murder. The task force said it is getting people like Anderson off Milwaukee streets that makes a difference to an entire neighborhood.

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