DOJ creates gun trafficking strike forces in five cities to crack down on sources of firearm-related crime

The division launched anti-gun trafficking strike forces to be primarily based in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, the San Francisco Bay space and Washington, DC, that are recognized corridors the place unlawful weapons are being trafficked and used in deadly shootings and other crimes.

The strike forces might be “focused on disrupting illegal firearms trafficking networks,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco informed NCS’s Brianna Keilar.

“We obviously always want to go after the individual who is pulling the trigger that’s costing lives in our communities, but we also need to go after the networks, the very illegal trafficking networks that are putting those guns in the hands of those criminals in the first place,” Monaco mentioned Thursday on NCS’s “New Day.”

The aim is to higher coordinate federal, state and native legislation enforcement companies throughout jurisdictions to disrupt trafficking networks from the place the place weapons originate, the place they journey by different jurisdictions, and to the locations the place they’re in the end used to commit violent crime, in accordance to a Justice Department official.

“All too often, guns found at crime scenes come from hundreds or even thousands of miles away. We are redoubling our efforts as ATF works with law enforcement to track the movement of illegal firearms used in violent crimes. These strike forces enable sustained coordination across multiple jurisdictions to help disrupt the worst gun trafficking corridors. The Department of Justice will use all of its tools — enforcement, prevention, intervention, and investment — to help ensure the safety of our communities — the department’s highest priority,” Garland mentioned in a press release prior to his departure to Chicago.

Year-to-date, homicides have elevated in Los Angeles, New York and the San Francisco Bay space. In Chicago, there have been 411 homicides by this level final 12 months, and there have been 405 as of Sunday. In Washington, DC, homicides are the identical year-to-date, totaling 105 each this and final years.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot mentioned in an interview with NCS that she has requested President Joe Biden for help.

“We need gun trafficking multi-jurisdictional strike forces to disrupt the flow of illegal guns that are coming into our city,” Lightfoot informed NCS. “I and other mayors across the country have been beating this drum since day 1 of his presidency. … My expectation is that those strike forces will be at work here shortly.”

Ahead of the Justice Department’s announcement, Chicago Police Department introduced the strike pressure group on Monday that’s made up of native law enforcement officials, ATF and an already present firearms investigation unit inside the Department.

The Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown mentioned at a information convention on Monday that Chicago law enforcement officials recovered 113 weapons over the weekend, which is up 22% as in contrast to final 12 months’s comparative weekend and gun recoveries are up 26% year-to-date over final 12 months.

“Often times, law enforcement focuses on the violent crimes that occur within their own jurisdiction, which of course they should be, but with a crime like firearms trafficking, guns may originate in one location and are used to commit violence someplace else, perhaps hundreds of miles away. This new approach that links law enforcement and prosecutors in locations where violence has occurred with the law enforcement and prosecutors in the jurisdictions where the firearms originate broadens our focus to ensure a comprehensive and coordinated response in both of these areas,” a Justice Department official mentioned.

A Justice Department official mentioned that these anti-gun violence initiatives has embedded ATF brokers and job pressure officers in over 45 native murder items to coordinate efforts and to present extra sources to handle violence crime. The DEA can be focusing their efforts in coordination with state, native and Tribal legislation enforcement to disrupt the actions of essentially the most violent drug trafficking gangs and egregious drug trafficking organizations working in the best crime areas.

All of the cities the strike forces might be primarily based in have skilled important improve in homicides since 2019.

But gun violence total — together with non-fatal shootings — stays a serious level of concern. Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco police departments all reported to NCS a rise in the quantity of total gun violence victims, which included non-fatal shootings. NCS reached out to the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, DC, for his or her quantity of gun violence victims for this 12 months, however didn’t hear again.

The most notable improve is in San Francisco the place as of June 30, there have been 119 victims of gun violence, greater than double the 58 victims from this time final 12 months.

This initiative follows a nationwide effort launched in May by the Justice Department titled “Violent Crime Reduction Initiative” that goals to attempt to cease violent crime earlier than it happens by collaborating with group teams, the FBI, ATF, DEA and native legislation enforcement to arrest fugitives wished for violent crimes together with murder and aggravated sexual assault.

“These efforts, which have been executed by the eight Regional Fugitive Task Forces, have resulted in the arrest of more than 700 fugitives where 361 of them were wanted for murder,” in accordance to a Justice Department official.

Since April, the Justice Department has taken quite a few steps to cut back and forestall violent crime, particularly the gun crime that’s typically on the core of the issue. Some of the steps embody getting the definition of a firearm modified to shut a loophole that permits the sale of “ghost guns” — self-manufactured weapons that do not have traceable elements.

NCS’s Veronica Stracqualursi contributed to this report.


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