Following his recent visit to Chicago where he participated in a roundtable discussion with Mayor Emanuel on recent reductions in youth violence, Attorney General Eric Holder today announced plans to send seven additional Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), agents to the field division office in Chicago.
The new ATF agents will coordinate efforts with U.S. Attorney Zachary T. Fardon, as well as federal, state and local law enforcement and community partnerships to advance proven strategies to reduce illegal gun trafficking and gun crime. There are currently 45 ATF agents assigned to Chicago.
"The Department of Justice will continue to do everything in its power to help the city of Chicago combat gun violence," said Attorney General Eric Holder. "These new agents are a sign of the federal government's ongoing commitment to helping local leaders ensure Chicago's streets are safe."
The deployment of new ATF agents represents the latest step in strengthening the partnerships with the Chicago Police Department and other local law enforcement agencies. In early June, ATF opened the Chicago Crime Gun Intelligence Center. The Center combines the gun enforcement efforts of the Chicago Police Department, Illinois State Police and ATF to provide additional leads that otherwise might go unnoticed and further addresses the illegal sales and possession of firearms in the State of Illinois.
In addition, U.S. Attorney Zachary T. Fardon announced a restructuring of the Criminal Division in his office and in doing so named a team of prosecutors who will work specifically to reduce violent crime in the city. The FBI currently has over 100 agents in Chicago assigned to curb gang and violent crimes. During the summer months, the city temporarily assigned an additional 20 agents to supplement crime reduction efforts. Under the 12 current grants administered by our Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention alone, the City of Chicago and Cook County has access to more than $6.6 million to further these efforts to address youth violence.
Gun crime is the primary driver of homicide in Chicago, and sixty percent of the guns recovered in violent crimes in Chicago were originally sold in other states and trafficked into the city. Given the interstate nature of these crimes, it is critical that federal and local law enforcement work together to identify traffickers and enforce federal gun laws. ATF will continue to concentrate its criminal enforcement on firearms trafficking throughout the region while curbing the supply of illegal guns that end up in the hands of gang members and other violent criminals.
"ATF's commitment to targeting traffickers and trigger pullers in Chicago is bolstered by these additional resources," said ATF Director B. Todd Jones. "These resources, combined with ATF's Crime Gun Intelligence Center, will strengthen and build on our outstanding partnership with the Chicago Police Department and other local, state and regional law enforcement to bring safety and justice back to the community."
"We have enjoyed an ever-improving and increasingly productive relationship with our federal partners," said Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy. "We look forward to continuing that relationship and welcoming additional personnel in our ongoing efforts to ensure everyone in Chicago enjoys the same sense of safety."
The Justice Department will continue to build on this work in the months ahead through initiatives like Project Safe Neighborhoods; the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention; and innovative community oriented policing tools in the neighborhoods across Chicago.