Fourteen Persons Charged in FederalGun Trafficking Investigation
Reno, Nev. - As part of an effort dubbed "Operation Over The Line," Special Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives arrested nine individuals in Nevada, California, Utah, Idaho, and Washington, this morning after the Federal Grand Jury in Reno returned Indictments against them for offenses such as, Dealing in Firearms Without a License, Illegal Sales of Firearms, Possession of Machine Guns, Possession of Firearms by Prohibited Persons, and Possession of Body Armor by a Violent Felon, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada, and John A. Torres, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, San Francisco Field Division. Five additional defendants have been indicted in the last several months as part of the same Operation.
Federal firearms laws provide that only licensed dealers may engage in the business of dealing in firearms. They also prohibit licensed dealers of firearms to sell or transfer firearms to individuals who do not reside in the state in which they hold their license. Federal laws further prohibit the possession, sale or transfer of machine guns or semiautomatic assault weapons, and the possession of firearms by felons, fugitives, persons addicted to controlled substances, persons adjudicated as mental defectives, persons unlawfully in the United States, persons discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions, persons under the control of domestic violence restraining orders, and persons who have been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. A law prohibiting the possession of body armor by violent felons became effective on November 2, 2002.
All of the charged individuals were either prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition, possessed illegal firearms, or were unlawfully dealing in firearms during the past year.
The investigation and prosecutions are also part of a nationwide commitment to reduce gun crime in America, known as Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a top priority of the Department of Justice. Since the initiative was announced by President Bush and Attorney General Ashcroft in May 2001, federal firearms prosecutions have increased 68 percent. In federal Fiscal Year 2003, the Department of Justice filed 10,556 federal firearms cases and charged over 13,000 defendants with federal firearms offenses, the highest number ever recorded by the Department. In federal Fiscal Year 2003, the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Nevada filed 200 federal firearms cases and charged over 228 individuals with federal firearms offenses, just slightly below the highest number ever recorded by the District in Fiscal Year 2002. Persons convicted have received average prison sentences of five years.
Approximately $901 million has been committed to the PSN initiative from its inception. The funds, distributed by way of federal grants, are being used to hire new federal and state prosecutors, support investigators, provide training, and develop and promote community outreach efforts. In Nevada, PSN grants have been awarded to the Washoe County Sheriff's Department, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Clark County District Attorney's Office, and Join Together of Northern Nevada, a northern Nevada non-profit group. For more information on PSN, visit www.projectsafeneighborhoods.gov/.
The cases are being investigated by Special Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Sue Fahami, Paul L. Pugliese, Robert Don Gifford, Thomas Dougherty, and Darin M. LaHood.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.