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Justice Department launches gun trafficking strike forces in five cities

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday announced the launch of strike forces to stem the flow of gun trafficking in five cities throughout the United States. Pool photo by Samuel Corum/UPI
Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday announced the launch of strike forces to stem the flow of gun trafficking in five cities throughout the United States. Pool photo by Samuel Corum/UPI | License Photo

July 22 (UPI) -- The Justice Department on Thursday announced the launch of strike forces to stem the flow of gun trafficking in five cities throughout the United States.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said the strike forces in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area/Sacramento region and Washington, D.C., will be led by designated United States attorneys in collaboration with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

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"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," Garland said. "These strike forces enable sustained coordination across multiple jurisdictions to help disrupt the worst gun trafficking corridors."

Later Thursday, Garland traveled to Chicago to meet with U.S. Attorney John Lausch, who will oversee the Chicago strike force.

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"Here, today, the threat of violent crime, particularly gun crime is a tragedy that is just ongoing. I feel it particularly in my hometown here," said Garland, who was raised in the Chicago suburb of Lincolnwood.

Garland said the Justice Department was "learning from the past" when asked how the strike efforts will differ from previous federal efforts to curb gun violence and trafficking in Chicago.

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When asked how the initiative would differ from "Operation Legend," a strategy of the former Trump administration that deployed new personnel into areas such as Chicago, he noted the goal of the strike forces are to connect law enforcement in cities facing gun violence with their counterparts in areas where guns are shipped out by illegal traffickers.

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"This is just one piece of the overall package ... a set of tactics aimed at a particular kind of problem," said Garland.

President Joe Biden earlier this month outlined the plan before a meeting with a group of city officials and local police chiefs at the White House, saying that one of the most effective ways to combat gun violence is "stemming the flow of firearms used to commit violent crimes."

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