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“We are redoubling our efforts as ATF works with law enforcement agencies to prosecute the movement of illegal firearms used in violent crimes,” Garland said in a statement. “These forces enable sustained coordination across multiple jurisdictions to disrupt the worst arms trade corridors.”
The anti-violence efforts are also of political concern to President Joe Biden and White House officials, who are concerned that liberal activist talk about the “police discovery” could create the impression that the government is doing little to address it Combat deadly violence.
Justice Department officials who briefed reporters on the government’s plans on Wednesday said they were aware that despite more than a decade of announcing new federal strategies, projects, operations and task forces, the number of shootings remained persistently high. And while officials haven’t ruled out the flow of manpower or resources to Chicago and other cities with major gun violence issues, they say a new approach is needed to get better results.
“The aim of these coordination efforts is to disrupt the entire smuggling network, from the origin of the weapons to other jurisdictions to the locations where they are ultimately used for violent crimes,” said a DOJ official, who spoke on condition of anonymity . “This is not a short-term infusion of resources. Rather, it is a long-term coordinated, cross-country strategy to ensure that disrupting these trading patterns is a priority for as long as it is necessary to resolve the problem. “
An official with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said that in the past, prosecutors in the “source” jurisdictions were sometimes reluctant to bring criminal cases based on misrepresentation or omissions in gun purchase records, although guns sometimes do showed up at crime scenes hundreds or thousands of miles away. The new efforts aim to formalize the links between the “source” and “market” jurisdictions to ensure that disrupting the flow of weapons to places like Chicago remains a high priority.
“In this source area, a prosecutor can dismiss this type of violation as a violation of the paperwork because he does not feel the effects,” said the ATF official, who also did not want to be named.
Last month, Garland announced the plan for strike forces in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. He is expected to visit ATF headquarters on Thursday before traveling to Chicago to meet with city police leaders. On Friday, Garland is said to be spending time with law enforcement and prosecutors for the U.S. attorney’s office.
The main sources of origin for weapons used in crimes in Chicago are usually Illinois and Indiana, said the lawyer who briefed reporters. California’s major cities are seeing an influx from Arizona and Nevada as guns arrive up and down Washington from the east coast, the official added.
Both the idea of special groups of weapons and the idea of reducing violence by persecuting gun buyers are anything but new.
In 2014, the ATF established a Chicago Crime Gun Intelligence Center to coordinate with state and local police.
And in March 2018, then Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent federal prosecutors across the country a directive to prioritize so-called “lie and try” cases. The ministry later reported an increase in charges of lying in arms purchase forms.
Last summer, then Attorney General William Barr swept Chicago into a fight against violent crime called Operation Legend. He later attributed a decrease in homicides in the city to the program.
Still, Chicago recorded about 770 murders that year, the highest number since 2016. About 410 murders were reported that year.