DOJ forming firearms trafficking strike forces in effort to reduce violent crime
The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Tuesday it is forming five cross-jurisdictional firearm trafficking strike forces in an effort to reduce violent crime across the country.
In a statement, the DOJ asserted that gun violence was a major driver of violent crime in the past 18 months, and the forces will be “an important step in stemming the supply of illegally trafficked firearms which are used in deadly shootings and other violent crimes.”
These new forces will focus on illegal firearm trafficking from five major U.S. cities including New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, the San Fransisco Bay Area and Washington, D.C.
The forces will be led by designated U.S. attorneys who will coordinate with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and local law enforcement.
“Working with our local partners to tackle violent crime is one of the Justice Department’s most important responsibilities,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said, according to the statement.
“Today, the department is taking another concrete step to address violent crime and illegal firearms trafficking. Our firearms trafficking strike forces will investigate and disrupt the networks that channel crime guns into our communities with tragic consequences. This effort reflects our shared commitment to keep communities safe.”
Garland is expected to meet with President Biden on Wednesday to discuss the initiative along with community leaders and law enforcement, according to the statement.
News of the strike forces comes as the U.S. has seen an increase of violent crime in the past year. Homicide rates alone have increased about 25 percent nationally.
In metro areas, the rate is even higher. The murder rate has increased by 50 percent year-on-year as of May, and in Miami, Fla., that rate increased 30 percent.
The five strike forces will provide information and collaborate with various districts where “firearms trafficking schemes cross state or jurisdictional boundaries to focus enforcement against entire trafficking networks,” and places where firearms are unlawfully obtained and used for violent crimes, according to the DOJ.