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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

District of Colorado

For Immediate Release

October 26, 2011

John F. Walsh, United States Attorney

Contact: Jeff Dorschner, Public Affairs Office

Deputy Attorney General Joins U.S. Attorney, ATF and Local Officials to Announce Results of Summer Anti-Violence Initiative

DENVER – Deputy Attorney General James Cole, the number two official with the Department of Justice, came to Denver today to participate in announcing the results of an initiative to combat violent crime throughout Metro Denver this past summer. Joining Cole for the announcement was U.S. Attorney John Walsh, ATF Special Agent in Charge Marvin Richardson, Aurora Police Chief Daniel Oates, Lakewood Police Chief Kevin Paletta, and Denver Police Chief Gerald Whitman. These agencies came together to form a partnership to investigate gun crime and arrest armed gang members.

During the Spring of this year, gun crime in Metro Denver appeared to be on the rise, and with a long hot summer approaching, local, state and federal law enforcement, along with the U.S. Attorney, came together to develop a strategy to reduce gun violence. The results of this partnership are impressive. Eighty armed gang members or their associates were investigated, charged and arrested. Of the 80, 62 defendants were indicted by a federal grand jury, and 18 defendants were charged in state court.

During the course of the investigation, agents and officers seized over 120 firearms from gang members, including machine guns, sawed-off shotguns, handguns, silencers, and destructive devices. They also seized over 10,000 rounds of ammunition. Many of the defendants caught during this anti-violence initiative claimed gang ties, including the Aryan Brotherhood, Bloods, Crips, Crenshaw Mafia Gangsters, East Side Oldies, Gallant Knight Insane, Sin City Disciples, Suerno 13, Sons of Silence, Vice Lords, and West Side Locos.

Agents and officers also seized drugs during the course of the summer anti-violence initiative, including cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana, and Ecstasy.

The summer anti-violence initiative is consistent with what Attorney General Eric Holder tasked U.S. Attorneys Offices to do; be proactive, identify violent crime hot spots, and develop law enforcement strategies to address the violence. That is exactly what was done here. Local law enforcement working together helped to prevent gang members from using city boundaries to escape punishment for their crimes.

The summer anti-violence initiative had two primary goals, prevent gun crime, and investigate gun violence, holding those responsible accountable. This strategy, specifically the partnership between federal and local law enforcement and district attorney’s office, removed violent felons from our streets.

Consistent with the Department of Justice’s anti-violence initiative strategy, federal, state and local authorities formed a partnership, combined resources and initiated investigations into gang violence, said Deputy Attorney General Cole. Instead of sitting on the sidelines, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the ATF, in partnership with the Aurora, Denver and Lakewood Police Departments, and the local District Attorneys, stepped up, focusing on locations where violent gun crime was most likely to occur."

Thanks goes to the brave men and women who investigated these cases, spending long hot summer days, late nights and weekends to investigate armed gang members this past summer, said U.S. Attorney John Walsh. Any time you remove gang members and their associates from the streets, and take away their guns, our communities, our neighborhoods, and our cities are much safer as a result.

We know from experience that gun violence goes hand-in-hand with gangs and drugs, said Marvin Richardson, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF Denver Field Division. We will continue to fight violent crime by partnering in the investigation and prosecution of those who seek to reduce the quality of life in our communities. ATF will continue our great collaboration with the state, local and federal partners who are similarly dedicated to this mission.

We believe the community is safer today thanks to the recent anti-gang violence initiative spearheaded by the ATF and the Aurora Police Department, with the support of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Aurora Police Chief Daniel Oates said. This initiative targets the worst violent offenders. The cooperation of all participating agencies makes available resources to arrest these offenders and hold them accountable.

This is an impressive list when you consider the number of guns, defendants, and narcotics that were taken off the streets, said Kevin Paletta, the Lakewood Chief of Police. There’s no telling what crimes were prevented through the efforts of these dedicated investigators. All we as law enforcement executives need to do is to provide them with the support they need to do their jobs and the results can be amazing, as we have seen.

I am very pleased with the joint operation and its results, said Denver Police Chief Gerald Whitman. We work very well with our law enforcement partners and believe that through collaborations such as this one we serve the citizen’s of Denver better. These are dangerous individuals and getting them off the streets makes everyone safer.

Those who have been convicted of federal felony firearm violations generally face not more than 10 years in federal prison, and up to a $250,000 fine.

There are still operations under way, so some details cannot yet be provided.

The anti-violence initiative is part of the department’s Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) program – a nationwide, gun-violence reduction initiative. Since its inception in 2001, the PSN program has granted nearly $2 billion in funding to hire new federal and state prosecutors; support investigators; provide training; distribute gun lock safety kits; deter juvenile gun crime; and develop and promote community outreach efforts as well as to support other gun and gang violence reduction strategies.


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