On Thursday, the Biden administration announced new Department of Justice “strike forces” in five U.S. cities to combat gun trafficking.
During a White House press briefing, press secretary Jen Psaki said, “Today the Department of Justice is announcing, or has announced, the launch of five gun trafficking strike forces in regions around the country, to combat the uptick in gun crimes that we’ve seen over the past 18 months.”
The Associated Press reported Attorney General Merrick Garland announced gun trafficking strike forces in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Politico reported Garland is heading to his hometown of Chicago on Thursday to formally announce the strike forces.
“We are redoubling our efforts as ATF works with law enforcement to track the movement of illegal firearms used in violent crimes,” Garland said in a statement to reporters on Wednesday. “These strike forces enable sustained coordination across multiple jurisdictions to help disrupt the worst gun trafficking corridors.”
“All too often, guns found at crime scenes come from hundreds or even thousands of miles away,” Garland said, according to CBS. “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.”
The strike forces will be “focused on disrupting illegal firearms trafficking networks,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco told CNN.
A Justice Department official who briefed reporters on the administration’s plans Wednesday said, “The goal of this coordination effort is to disrupt the entire trafficking network, from the place where guns originate, where they travel through other jurisdictions, to the places where they’re ultimately used to commit violent crime.
“This is not a short-term infusion of resources,” the official said. “Rather, it’s a long term coordinated, multi-jurisdictional strategy to ensure that disrupting these trafficking patterns remains a priority as long as necessary to address the problem.”
The new gun trafficking strike forces come amid high homicide rates in several major U.S. cities. CNN reported that, compared to the same point in the year last year, homicides have increased in Los Angeles, New York and the San Francisco Bay area. In Chicago, there were 411 homicides by this point last year, compared to 405 as of Sunday this year. In Washington D.C., homicides are the same at this point in the year as they were last year, totaling 105 each.
Biden previewed the plan for the gun trafficking strike forces in an address last month. The DOJ said at the time that the new strike forces will be launched within 30 days “to help reduce violent crime by addressing illegal gun trafficking in significant firearms trafficking corridors.” Biden also warned, at the time, that his administration would establish “zero tolerance” policies for “rogue” gun dealers who ignore federal gun laws in states and jurisdictions that have declared themselves “Second Amendment sanctuaries.”