For Immediate Release
Department of Justice Announces Launch of Firearms Trafficking Strike Forces to Crack Down on Sources of Crime Guns
Central District of California to Participate in Cross-jurisdictional Strike Force
LOS ANGELES – 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. One of the strike forces will be in the Central District of California, where the Los Angeles-based United States Attorney’s Office will coordinate strike force efforts.
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: Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, the San Francisco Bay Area/Sacramento and Washington, D.C.
Each strike force region will be led by local United States Attorneys, who will collaborate with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), state and local law enforcement partners in their district, and law enforcement partners in areas where illegally trafficked guns originate. These law enforcement partners 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, a significant number of firearms recovered in the Los Angeles region come from other states and are illegally trafficked into Southern California. The new strike force will help ensure sustained and focused coordination between law enforcement and prosecutors in the greater Los Angeles region with their counterparts in locations where many of the firearms originate.
“Reducing the flow of weapons into this region will have an impact in reducing violent crime,” said Acting United States Attorney Tracy L. Wilkison. “Because many of the firearms used in crimes come from states that also supply Northern California, our strike force will work closely with the law enforcement officials associated with the strike force based in Northern California, as well as our colleagues in San Diego.”
“The goal of our Los Angeles strike force is to reduce the proliferation of firearms from the legal to illegal market by utilizing crime gun intelligence and working with our local, state and federal partners,” said ATF Los Angeles Field Division Special Agent in Charge Monique Villegas. “Through partnerships, ATF will target firearms traffickers to help reduce crime rates that have been steadily rising. ATF is dedicated to this sustained collaboration with the U.S. Attorney’s office to make our communities safer.”
The strike forces represent one important, concrete step in implementing the Department’s Comprehensive Violent Crime Reduction Strategy, which was announced on May 26. 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.