United States Attorney Announces Results Of Project Safe Neighborhoods Strategy

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Tampa – United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announced today the first quarter results of the Middle District of Florida’s Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) strategy. Over the past three months, PSN prosecutors in the Middle District of Florida have prosecuted 130 defendants for federal firearms and violent crime offenses.  Those prosecutions have removed more than 300 firearms from our streets.  (See chart for case details)

            The prosecutions consist of:

  • 51 individuals who have been charged with federal firearms and violent crime offenses, involving a total of 75 firearms and 1,563 auto sears;
  • 52 defendants who were adjudicated guilty in firearm and violent crime cases in 2022, involving a total of 174 firearms; and
  • 27 defendants who were sentenced in firearm and violent crime cases, involving a total of 86 firearms. (See chart for case details)

“Reducing violent crime is a top priority for our Office,” said U.S. Attorney Roger B. Handberg. “Over the past three months, I have increased the number of prosecutors assigned to handle violent crime and firearms cases and have met with our state and local partners to better understand the issues in our communities. Through those efforts, 130 defendants have been prosecuted in federal court and more than 300 firearms have been seized from those defendants.  Working with our law enforcement partners, we will continue to work to make communities throughout the Middle District of Florida safer.”

PSN is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. This evidence-based program has proven to be effective at reducing violent crime by engaging a broad spectrum of stakeholders working together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in communities and developing comprehensive solutions that reduce crime. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses on prevention and intervention efforts through community engagement and problem-solving partnerships, strategic enforcement of the most violent offenders, and locally based reentry programs to reduce recidivism.

As part of its PSN strategy, each of the five divisions of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida (USAO-MDFL) have engaged in violent crime reduction strategies in 2022, including:

  • Orlando – Five Assistant United States Attorneys (AUSAs) have been assigned to exclusively prosecute violent crime, narcotics, and firearms cases. Each AUSA also serves as a liaison to a specific law enforcement agency that investigates violent crimes.
  • Jacksonville – AUSAs meet weekly with fellow Crime Gun Intelligence Center (CGIC) partners (Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, Clay County Sheriff’s Office, State Attorney’s Office – Fourth Judicial Circuit, ATF, DEA and FBI) to develop investigations. Staff members also participate in local reentry programs (Baker, Lawtey, and Columbia Correctional) and school outreach presentations.
  • Ocala – AUSAs have teamed up with the State Attorney’s Office for the Fifth Judicial Circuit, ATF, DEA, FBI, the Ocala Police Department, and the Marion, Lake, and Citrus County Sheriff’s Offices to locate, seize, and prosecute individuals who unlawfully possess firearms. 
  • Tampa – The number of dedicated violent crime prosecutors has increased to 11.  In addition, as part of an ongoing partnership with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, two defendants have recently been charged in a drug-related homicide case (United States v. Grable, et al).
  • Ft. Myers – Relationships with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies have been enhanced through the USAO-MDFL Violent Crime Working Group in an effort to identify offenders and coordinate investigations and prosecutions involving firearms-related offenses.
  • Districtwide – An increase in our proactive community outreach strategy has allowed staff to further engage community-based organizations, educational institutions, and service agencies in an effort to prevent and decrease future gun-related incidents. (See chart for specific events).

The cases identified in the linked chart have been investigated by the Apopka Police Department, the Bradenton Police Department, the Cocoa Beach Police Department, the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office, the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office, the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, the Fort Myers Police Department, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, the Lake County Police Department, the Lake Mary Police Department, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation, the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office, the Ocala Police Department, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, the Pasco Sheriff’s Office, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, the Sanford Police Department, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, the Sarasota Police Department, the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, the St. Petersburg Police Department, the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office, the Tampa Police Department, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Border Patrol, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

An indictment or criminal complaint is merely a formal charge that a defendant has violated one or more federal criminal laws, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

These cases are being prosecuted by the Assistant United States Attorneys in all five divisions throughout the Middle District of Florida. For additional information on Project Safe Neighborhoods, please visit our website: https://www.justice.gov/usao-mdfl/project-safe-neighborhoods-0.