DENVER – Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole today announced the results of an anti-violence initiative launched in May 2011 to combat violent crime throughout the city of Denver. Deputy Attorney General Cole was joined by U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado John Walsh; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive (ATF) Special Agent in Charge Marvin Richardson; Aurora, Colo., Police Chief Daniel Oates; Lakewood, Colo., Police Chief Kevin Paletta; and Denver Police Chief Gerald Whitman.
Since the initiative’s launch, 80 alleged gang members or their associates were charged with a wide range of alleged illegal activity, including felon in possession of a firearm; unlawful possession of machine guns; and possession with intent to distribute. Of the 80 individuals charged, 62 defendants were indicted by a federal grand jury and 18 defendants were charged in state court. Many of the defendants 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.
Additionally, during the course of the investigation, agents and officers seized more than 120 firearms from gang members, including machine guns, sawed-off shotguns, handguns, silencers and destructive devices. They also seized more than 10,000 rounds of ammunition, as well as numerous drugs, including cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana and Ecstasy.
“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.”
The two primary goals of the initiative were to prevent gun crime and to investigate gun violence. Federal, state and local law enforcement applied proactive investigative methods to identify violent crime “hot spots” and developed smart and effective law enforcement strategies to address the crime.
“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 ATF Special Agent in Charge Richardson. “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.”
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.