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Press Release

Department of Justice Announces Launch of Firearms Trafficking Strike Forces to Crack Down on Sources of Crime Guns

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Illinois

FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS, Ill. – The U.S. Department of Justice today launched five cross-jurisdictional 
strike forces to help reduce gun violence by disrupting illegal firearms trafficking in key regions 
across  the  country.  Leveraging  existing  resources,  the  regional  strike  forces  will  
better  ensure sustained and focused coordination across jurisdictions and help stem the supply of illegally trafficked firearms from source cities, through other communities, and into five key 
market regions: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area/Sacramento Region and Washington, D.C.

Each strike force region will be led by designated United States Attorneys, who will collaborate 
with the  Bureau  of  Alcohol,  Tobacco,  Firearms,  and  Explosives  (ATF)  and  with  state  and  
local  law enforcement partners within their own jurisdiction (where firearms are used in crimes) 
as well as law enforcement partners in areas where illegally trafficked guns originate. These 
officials will use the latest  data,  evidence,  and  intelligence  from  crime  scenes  to  
identify  patterns,  leads, and  potential suspects in violent gun crimes.

“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. These strike forces enable sustained coordination across multiple jurisdictions to help disrupt the worst gun trafficking corridors,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “The Department of Justice will use all of its tools – enforcement, prevention, intervention, and investment – to help ensure the safety of our communities – the department’s highest priority.”

According to gun trace data, a significant number of firearms recovered in Chicago originate 
outside the Chicago area. The new strike force will help ensure sustained and focused coordination 
between law  enforcement  and  prosecutors  in  Chicago  and  their  counterparts  in  those  other 
 locations.  The Southern District of Illinois stands ready to assist in these efforts as needed.

The  strike  forces  represent  one  important,  concrete  step  in  implementing  the  
Department’s Comprehensive  Violent  Crime  Reduction  Strategy,  which  was  announced  on  May  
26,  2021.  The comprehensive strategy supports local communities in preventing, investigating, and 
prosecuting gun violence and other violent crime—and requires U.S. Attorneys’ offices to work with 
federal, state, local  and  tribal  law  enforcement,  as  well  as  the  communities  they  serve, 
 to  address  the  most significant drivers of violence in their districts. In guidance to federal 
agents and prosecutors as part of that comprehensive strategy, the Deputy Attorney General made 
clear that firearms traffickers
providing weapons to violent offenders are an enforcement priority across the country.

Since April 2021, the Department has taken the following steps to reduce and prevent violent crime,
especially the gun crime that is often at the core of the problem:
•     April 8, 2021 – Attorney General Garland, alongside President Biden, announced four 
concrete steps for addressing gun violence:   ATF would propose a new rule   within 30 days to help 
curb the proliferation of so-called ghost guns, ATF would propose a new rule within 60 days on 
stabilizing braces used to convert pistols into short-barreled rifles, the Department would publish 
model state extreme risk protection order legislation within 60 days; and ATF would begin preparing 
a thorough and detailed new public study of firearms trafficking for the first time in 20 years.

•     In April 2021, the Office of Justice Programs also made clear when existing grant 
funds could be used to support Community Violence Intervention (CVI) programs.

•     On May 7, 2021, meeting the Attorney General’s announced timeline, ATF issued a 
notice of proposed rulemaking to update outdated firearms definitions and to help address the 
proliferation of ghost guns.

•     May 26, 2021, the Attorney General announced the Department’s comprehensive strategy 
to reduce violent crime, including an overall Department Violent Crime Reduction Strategy, the 
strengthening of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), and a directive to U.S. Attorneys to work with 
their local partners in addressing the increase in violence that typically occurs over the summer 
(with specific support from DOJ law enforcement agencies)

•     On June 7, meeting the Attorney General’s announced timeline, ATF issued a notice of 
proposed rulemaking to clarify that the restrictions imposed by the National Firearms Act apply 
when stabilizing braces are used to convert pistols into short-barreled rifles.

•     On June 8, meeting the Attorney General’s announced timeline, the Department 
published model state extreme risk protection order legislation.

•     On June 22, 2021, the Attorney General announced that the Department would be 
forming five Firearms Trafficking Strike Forces within 30 days.

On, June 23, 2021, the Attorney General, alongside President Biden, announced steps that ATF would take to hold rogue gun dealers accountable for their actions. They include applying a “no 
tolerance” policy  for  federal  firearms  licensers (FFLs)  that willfully commit  violations  
that  endanger  public safety; designating points of contact for state and local government 
officials to report concerns about rogue  FFLs;  formalizing  the  use  of  public  safety  factors 
 for  inspection  prioritization;  sharing inspection information with states that regulate 
firearms dealers themselves; resuming the practice of notifying  revoked  dealers  on  how  to  
dispose  of  their  inventory  and  the  potential  criminal consequences of continuing to engage 
in the business; increasing ATF’s resources for inspections;and publicly posting disaggregated inspection information to ATF’s website.

Updated July 23, 2021