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 Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and with 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. 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,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “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.”
According to gun trace data, the vast majority of firearms recovered in New York City originate outside the state and are illegally trafficked into New York. The new strike force, led by Audrey Strauss, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, will help ensure sustained and focused coordination between law enforcement and prosecutors in New York City with their counterparts in locations where many of the firearms originate.
U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said: “Disrupting the flow of guns into New York City is an important part of our anti-violence efforts. We look forward to working with our federal and state partners to investigate and prosecute gun trafficking cases. Because many of the firearm source locations for New York City overlap with the source locations for firearms recovered in the District of Columbia, we will coordinate our efforts with our D.C. counterparts.”
U.S. Attorney Jacquelyn M. Kasulis said: “Gun violence has taken a terrible, unacceptable toll on our communities, and it must be stopped. Stemming the flow of illegal guns into New York City is critical to eradicating gun violence in our city. We are committed to working with our federal and state partners to investigate and prosecute gun trafficking to the fullest extent of the law.”
The strike forces represent one important, concrete step in implementing the Department’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.