Feds: 100 weapons seized, 14 Chicago area residents charged - KMSP-TV

Feds: 100 weapons seized, 14 Chicago area residents charged

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - A gun-running investigation has seized more than 100 weapons and led to charges against 14 Chicago area defendants, the feds say.

Working with three informants, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives-led investigation culminated in a Tuesday raid of a home in Gary at which 17 guns were seized, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

Firearms believed to have been used in violent acts have, since May 1, had their unique ballistics "fingerprint" and other identifying information entered into an extraordinary data base at the Chicago Crime Gun Intelligence Center.

“Yes, [the goal is to] reduce the number of shootings and murders, take the trigger-pullers off the street,” said John Durastanti, Assistant Special Agent in charge of ATF Chicago.

The 90 arrested since May include street gang leaders and career criminals with a cumulative 3,000 prior arrests and 600 prior convictions; 270 firearms were seized.

“That just shows how the Intelligence Center can help us focus, hone in on the right people…the career armed criminals and those people providing guns being used in the shootings in the City of Chicago,” Durastanti said.

Recent visits by Attorney General Eric Holder and other top Feds underscored a new, multi-million dollar commitment to combat violent crime in President Obama's home town.

The Crime Gun Intelligence Center opened May 1 to foster an unusual level of daily cooperation among law enforcers. Among those often sharing information: federal agents from ATF, the DEA and FBI, state police from Illinois and Indiana, and local police from a half-dozen departments on both sides of State Line Road.

They've scoured the country for ideas to reduce the killings.

“New Orleans, L.A., New York City, Columbus, anywhere else that has a vibrant crime-reduction strategy. We've taken all those different aspects, brought it here,” Durastanti added.

The new aggressive federal involvement means local street gang leaders will face much longer prison sentences than they're used to. Twelve of the 14 defendants arrested in the Gary raid announced Wednesday are previously convicted felons forbidden to possess a gun. Each now faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

The Congressional Research Service, citing ATF statistics, estimated in 2012 that there are 310 million guns in the U.S., meaning the weapons seized in the initiative account for less than one-millionth of the nation's privately-owned firearms.

But Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, whose officers assisted in the busts, said: “You have heard me say it repeatedly and I will say it again, we have too many illegal guns flooding our streets...But every little bit helps, and certainly this mission and confiscating as many weapons as we did will keep our communities safer.”

The Chicago Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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