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Press Release

61 Defendants Charged with Illegal Firearms, Drugs in ATF-KCPD Undercover Operation

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Missouri

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that 61 Kansas City, Mo.-area residents have been charged with firearms violations, drug trafficking or other crimes as the result of a nearly year-long undercover operation by the ATF and the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department.

“This was the largest federal round-up ever conducted in this district as the result of a single investigation,” Dickinson said. “We are taking dozens of violent criminals off the street and hundreds of illegal guns out of circulation. Kansas City is a safer city today as a result of this operation.”

More than 150 law enforcement officers from local, state and federal agencies arrested 28 defendants in a three-day sweep this week. In addition, eight federal defendants are already in custody on earlier indictments resulting from this investigation and one defendant is already in federal custody in an unrelated case. Ten defendants are already in state custody on unrelated charges.

The remaining 14 defendants who are not in custody are considered fugitives from justice and are actively being sought by law enforcement. The public’s assistance is requested to locate these fugitives. Anyone with information is encouraged to call the TIPS hot line at 816-474-8477.

“This investigation is a testament to the NoVA partnership and is just the beginning.  These indictments demonstrate our message that violence will not be tolerated,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Marino F. Vidoli.  “ATF is committed to utilize every resource to keep the citizens of Kansas City safe.  Be warned, if you are committing violent crime in this city, we will not rest until you are off the streets.”

During the course of the investigation, agents seized 222 firearms (including handguns, assault rifles and sawed-off shotguns). Some of those firearms have been identified as having been used in multiple violent crimes, including unsolved homicide investigations, and some had been reported stolen. Agents also seized or purchased various quantities of marijuana, cocaine, crack cocaine, methamphetamine, PCP and various other narcotics.

“This is a significant operation that should have a major impact on gun crime in our city,” said Jean Peters Baker, Jackson County Prosecutor.

Baker added that the operation will also be significant in pressing the new KC NoVA (No Violence Alliance) effort that involves federal, state and city law enforcement agencies as well as community leaders. The undercover operation provided information that will be used in the future by NoVA.

NoVA tells those involved in groups associated with crime here that law enforcement is working closely together to win the most severe punishment possible for violent crime, Baker noted. “This operation shows we mean what we say,” she said.

“I applaud the efforts of all law enforcement officers from each respective agency who have worked on this operation,” said Kansas City, Mo., Police Chief Darryl Forté. “It is my hope that through these proactive efforts, those involved in violent crimes are located and arrested and those considering that choice are provided a different path to follow. Through operations like this, I believe this is being accomplished.”

“We pledged at NoVA’s inception that law enforcement, prosecutors and community partners would be united in stamping out violent crime, and we’re delivering on that promise,” Dickinson said. “NoVA is a carrot-and-stick approach, and what you’re witnessing this week is the stick. We are bringing the full weight of our resources to bear on the level of violence in Kansas City.”

Following this week’s law enforcement action, NoVA partners will directly approach those individuals who have been identified in a network of associates of known criminals. These individuals, who were neither charged nor arrested this week, will be offered resources and services to assist them if they desire to renounce a life of crime, rehabilitate themselves and become productive members of the community.

According to Dickinson, two-thirds of the defendants charged in the operation (41 defendants) have prior felony convictions and more than half of the defendants are currently on probation or parole. Under federal statutes, it is illegal for anyone who has been convicted of a felony to possess any firearm or ammunition. It is also a federal offense for drug traffickers and users of controlled substances to possess any firearm or ammunition.

“This operation targeted armed career criminals, violent felons who are carrying guns,” Dickinson said. “We know that the same guns are often used over and over again to commit violent crimes. Every weapon taken out of the hands of a convicted felon represents lives saved and violent crimes prevented.”

Dickinson noted that the large sudden influx of federal cases requires the U.S. Attorney’s Office to work closely with the District Court, the U.S. Marshal’s Office and the Office of Probation and Parole. “We appreciate the coordination of everyone at the courthouse as we implement some creative solutions to insure that the administration of justice continues efficiently under these extraordinary circumstances,” said Dickinson.

Dickinson cautioned that the charges contained in these indictments are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.

The federal cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys David A. Barnes, Stefan C. Hughes, Bruce Rhoades, Charles E. Ambrose, Jr., Bruce E. Clark, Cathleen Connelly, Christina Y. Tabor, David DeTar Newbert, Rudolph R. Rhodes IV, D. Michael Green and Brent Venneman and by Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sydney Sanders, Jalilah Otto, Leena Ramana and Sarah A. Castle. They were investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department, the Independence, Mo., Police Department and Homeland Security Investigations.

Updated January 16, 2015