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Mayor Richard M. Daley said today the City will undertake a new initiative to address the ongoing challenge of gun trafficking in cooperation with local and federal law enforcement agencies.
“We must continue to use every tool available at the local, state and federal levels to address the challenge of violence head on,” Daley said at a City Hall news conference held after a meeting with law enforcement and judicial leaders.
“This is the second in an ongoing series of meetings that are based on my deep belief that with strong policing, greater resident involvement, strong gun laws and better coordination at the local, state and federal levels we can turn back the tide of violence,” Daley said.
The Mayor said that gun trafficking is a growing problem in Chicago, throughout Illinois and across the nation. More and more, guns recovered at crime scenes are often linked to illegal gun trafficking.
He said that in one of the highest profile examples of illegal gun trafficking, it was recently discovered that one of the guns used in the June shooting death of Chicago Police Officer Thomas Wortham was traced back to an individual who was identified as a gun trafficker in the Englewood neighborhood in Chicago. The guns he trafficked were obtained from straw purchases and gun show purchases in Mississippi.
“Today, we agreed that a more aggressive and more coordinated strategy across the various levels of government is needed to address the ongoing challenge of gun trafficking,” Daley said.
The Police Department will be looking at enhancing the Chicago Anti-Gun Enforcement unit to more pro-actively pursue illegal gun cases on its own, as well as in partnership with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
In addition, the State’s Attorney’s Office and federal agencies have offered training and personnel to support this initiative, which we believe will lead to a greater number of successful gun and gun trafficking prosecutions.
The Mayor said that for some months, the City has been working even more closely than before with local, state and national law enforcement officials to better use their unique tools, including RICO laws, to hit gang and drug kingpins where it hurts: In their pockets.
For example, since the summer, the Police Department and seven federal, state and local law enforcement agencies have been carrying out “Operation Return to Owner” a first-of-its-kind initiative aimed at reducing violence and making the streets safer in police districts that have experienced high levels of crime.
Monday, the Police Department announced that last weekend’s operation under this program resulted in 155 Arrests, 14 Parolees returned to prison for violating the terms of their parole and 12 guns seized. Since July, the operation has resulted in 677 arrests and 89 parolees returned to prison.
The Mayor said the goal of the series of meetings is to develop more collaborations like “Return to Owner” and to make sure there is a coordinated and united front in the fight against violence.
“Violence is a complex challenge. That's why we'll continue to work on many fronts and in many ways to make our streets safer,” Daley said.
“The fight to protect Chicago's streets, and especially our children, must continue. Chicago belongs to its upstanding residents, not the criminals,” he said.
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