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Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
District of Connecticut

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, July 18, 2023
Vanessa Roberts Avery
, United States Attorney

U.S. Attorney and Federal Partners Address Gun Violence and Firearms Trafficking in Connecticut

U.S. Attorney Vanessa Roberts Avery and the leadership of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Violent Crimes and Narcotics Unit convened a series of meetings last week with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to discuss continuing strategies to curb gun violence and firearms trafficking in Connecticut.

“While I and members of my office regularly meet with our law enforcement partners to share information, discuss crime trends, and coordinate investigations and prosecutions, these meetings take on an added significance during the summer months when cities in Connecticut and across the country traditionally experience an uptick of gun violence and related criminal activity,” said U.S. Attorney Avery. “Using a data-driven, intelligence, and evidence-based approach, we are able to focus on the small number of individuals who are driving the violence in our cities. Then, either through our violence prevention engagement initiatives, or through federal or state prosecution, we aim to stop the violence before it occurs. Our collective goal is to make our communities safer by freeing it of recurrent gun violence and the trauma it causes.”

“Working collaboratively with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners, we continue to aggressively combat Connecticut gun violence and trafficking,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert Fuller. “Our FBI violent crime and violent gang task forces, which are located throughout Connecticut, consistently prove to be very effective in addressing gun violence in our cities and towns. This violent threat plaguing our communities is a top priority for the FBI.”

“ATF is committed to our continued collaboration and support of our local, state and federal partners to address violent gun crime,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge James Ferguson.

“DEA is committed to investigating and dismantling violent drug trafficking organizations operating in Connecticut,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Brian D. Boyle. “As we all know, drug trafficking in our communities, along with the gun and physical violence that often accompanies it, is a serious threat to our families and communities. DEA and its local, state, and federal partners will continue to work collaboratively to bring to justice those that commit these crimes.”

“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service stands with our federal, state, and local partners to confront the violence in our communities,” said Ketty D. Larco-Ward, Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service. “We will aggressively pursue the criminals who, through their misuse of the U.S. Mail, facilitate the crimes which fuel the violence on our streets.”

As the majority of violent crime in Connecticut occurs in heavily-populated Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven and Waterbury, the U.S. Attorney’s Office currently coordinates Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) programs in each of these cities. PSN, the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts, focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has recently supplemented resources in these four PSN cities, and continues to focus on violent crime in other cities across the state.

Each PSN city’s police department is also an important participant in multiple federal law enforcement task forces that address crime throughout the region. Other Connecticut police departments also contribute significantly to federal task forces.

Another significant part of federal law enforcement’s gun violence reduction strategy involves long-term investigations that target members of gangs and groups responsible for much of the violence in Connecticut’s cities. In Bridgeport, more than 30 alleged gang members have been charged across multiple indictments with offenses related to narcotics trafficking, murders, and other acts of violence committed in recent years. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is also currently prosecuting alleged gang members and associates in New Haven and Waterbury.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office is also focusing on the illegal straw purchasing of firearms, the trafficking of firearms into Connecticut and around the state, increasing numbers of privately-made firearms (“PMFs” or “ghost guns”), as well as firearms containing “switches,” which convert ordinary firearms into fully automatic machine guns.

“We are constantly challenged by the sheer number of illegal firearms on the streets, the destructive strength of many of them, and technologies that make their manufacture easier and their tracing harder,” said U.S. Attorney Avery. “These guns endanger the community and the officers who are sworn to protect us. This is why we are prioritizing the prosecution of individuals who help turn legal firearms into illegal firearms, and those who manufacture and traffic guns. Police departments are also increasing the use of the ATF-sponsored National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) to help connect recovered firearms to shell casings found at shooting scenes, which leads to additional arrests and successful prosecutions.”

In addition to the prosecution of firearm and violent crime cases, and the violence prevention efforts that are a major component of PSN, members of the U.S. Attorney’s Office also actively participate in federal court-sponsored programs in an effort to reduce recidivist behavior and make communities safer, including Reentry Court, which offers assistance to formerly-incarcerated individuals on federal supervised release, and Support Court, which connects federal offenders with drug and alcohol addiction to treatment, other resources, and support networks. The Office has also reached thousands of teens through FED-UP and HEAT, which are anti-violence and drug prevention programs for middle school and high school students emphasizing the extreme dangers of joining groups engaged in violent crime, and of experimentation with fentanyl, including fake pills.

“Ultimately, we know that reducing gun violence requires a multi-pronged approach, which is why members of my office and our law enforcement partners devote much time and energy engaging with returning citizens who have been through the penal system, as well as with youth who we hope will take a different path, to reduce the cycle of violence and save countless lives,” said U.S. Attorney Avery.

Boston Field Division