Federal gun trafficking strike forces launched in five cities

The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Thursday officially launched federal gun trafficking strike forces in five U.S. cities as part of the Biden administration’s efforts to reduce gun violence by disrupting illegal sales. 

The DOJ said that the start of the effort, which was unveiled last month, will be a cross-jurisdictional partnership between the U.S. attorneys, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and state and local law enforcement “to focus enforcement against entire trafficking networks, from the places where guns are unlawfully obtained to the areas where they are used to commit violent crimes.” 

The initial strike forces in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., will work to stop guns traveling from areas where it is easier to obtain firearms to places with more restrictive gun laws. 

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The DOJ said in a statement that Attorney General Merrick GarlandMerrick GarlandDOJ sues Texas over Abbott order restricting transportation of migrants Graham, Cuellar press Biden to name border czar Garland floats legal action over Abbott immigration order MORE and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco will be visiting the ATF headquarters Thursday to kick off the strike forces and will “meet virtually with law enforcement leaders in key strike force market cities.” 

Monaco is also scheduled to tour the ATF Crime Gun Intelligence Mobile Command Center in Washington.

Later Thursday, Garland will travel to Chicago to visit a Police Department Strategic Decision Support Center, and will attend a listening session made up of participants in “a group that offers innovative programming to reduce gun violence,” the DOJ said. 

The attorney general is scheduled to meet Friday with Illinois-based DOJ officials in the U.S. attorney’s offices to help further launch the strike forces in the area. 

Garland said in a statement Thursday, "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," he continued. "These strike forces enable sustained coordination across multiple jurisdictions to help disrupt the worst gun trafficking corridors." 

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“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," Garland said. 

The DOJ in its announcement of the strike forces last month said the effort is “part of the administration-wide comprehensive strategy to combat the rise in violent crime.” 

The Biden administration faces mounting pressure to address reported surges in violent crime in 2020, including a rise in homicide rates and the number of shootings across the country. 

President BidenJoe BidenCDC chief clarifies vaccine comments: 'There will be no nationwide mandate' Overnight Defense: First group of Afghan evacuees arrives in Virginia | Biden signs Capitol security funding bill, reimbursing Guard | Pentagon raises health protection level weeks after lowering it Biden urges local governments to stave off evictions MORE last month unveiled a sweeping strategy to address gun violence and repeated calls for Congress to pass a federal assault weapons ban and strengthen background check measures for firearm purchases. 

Cities have also launched their own efforts to address gun violence. 

In Chicago, the police department on Monday announced the creation of a new 50-officer team aimed at targeting gun traffickers, straw buyers, disreputable licensed firearm dealers and others who help bring illegal guns into the city.

Updated 12:40 p.m.