WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Justice today launched five cross-jurisdictional strike forces to help reduce gun violence by disrupting illegal firearms trafficking in key regions across the country. Leveraging existing resources, the regional strike forces will better ensure sustained and focused coordination across jurisdictions and help stem the supply of illegally trafficked firearms from source cities, through other communities, and into five key market regions: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area/Sacramento Region, and Washington, D.C.
Each strike force region will be led by designated United States Attorneys, who will collaborate with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and with federal, state, and local law enforcement partners within their own jurisdiction (where firearms are used in crimes) as well as law enforcement partners in areas where illegally trafficked guns originate. These officials will use the latest data, evidence, and intelligence from crime scenes to identify patterns, leads, and potential suspects in violent gun crimes.
“All too often, guns found at crime scenes come from hundreds or even thousands of miles away,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “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.”
“Straw purchasers and unlicensed gun sellers enable violence,” said John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. “The cross-jurisdictional strike force will increase collaboration with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, and enhance our longstanding efforts to hold accountable individuals or groups who illegally traffic firearms into Chicago.”
According to gun trace data, a significant number of firearms recovered in Chicago originate outside Chicago and are illegally trafficked into the city. The new strike force, led by U.S. Attorney Lausch, will help ensure sustained and focused coordination between law enforcement and prosecutors in Chicago with counterparts in the locations where many of the firearms originate.
The strike forces represent one important, concrete step in implementing the Department of Justice’s Comprehensive Violent Crime Reduction Strategy, which was announced on May 26, 2021. The comprehensive strategy supports local communities in preventing, investigating, and prosecuting gun violence and other violent crime – and requires U.S. Attorneys’ offices to work with federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement, as well as the communities they serve, to address the most significant drivers of violence in their districts. In guidance to federal agents and prosecutors as part of that comprehensive strategy, the Deputy Attorney General made clear that firearms traffickers providing weapons to violent offenders are an enforcement priority across the country.