Remarks As Delivered
Good afternoon. Today, we are announcing a superseding indictment charging 12 individuals in a conspiracy to illegally traffic over 90 guns across state lines into the city of Chicago.
This case is an example of the collaborative approach the Justice Department is taking to protect our communities from violent crime, and from the illegal gun trafficking that often drives it.
This approach requires cooperation across all levels of government — federal, state and local. And this case reflects that cooperation in the best possible way.
On March 26 of last year, a mass shooting in my hometown of Chicago left seven people wounded and one person dead.
Several of the guns that the Chicago Police Department recovered at the crime scene were traced by our experts at ATF’s National Tracing Center.
ATF found that five of the recovered guns were recently purchased from federally licensed firearms dealers located hundreds of miles away.
Further investigations by our agents and law enforcement partners uncovered an alleged gun trafficking conspiracy involving over 90 guns and 12 defendants.
Many of those guns have been linked to shootings in the Chicago area in which multiple people have been injured and several killed.
In July 2021, a grand jury charged three enlisted members of the U.S. Army, stationed at the Fort Campbell military installation in Clarksville, Tennessee, with crimes stemming from the purchase and transfer of dozens of firearms to the streets of Chicago.
The superseding indictment that we are announcing today charges nine additional defendants in the conspiracies and other substantive offenses.
The indictment alleges that the new defendants are members of the Gangster Disciples street gang in Chicago. They are alleged to have conspired to purchase and deliver over 90 firearms to the Chicago area to facilitate ongoing violent disputes between the Gangster Disciples from Pocket Town and rival gangs.
In a moment, my colleagues will discuss the case in more detail.
The Justice Department recognizes that fighting violent crime requires approaches tailored to the needs of individual communities. But gun violence can be a problem that is too big for any one community, any one city, or any one agency to solve. That is why our approach to disrupting gun violence and keeping guns out of the hands of criminals rests on the kind of coordination you see here today. That is why last year, we established five cross-jurisdictional strike forces to disrupt the pipelines that flood our communities with illegal guns.
These strike forces are designed to foster sustained coordination among federal, state, and local law enforcement partners across jurisdictions. They are set up to disrupt the entirety of illegal gun trafficking networks — from the jurisdictions where guns originate to the places where they are used to commit violent crimes. But our efforts are not limited to these strike forces. As we made clear in our guidance to all federal prosecutors and law enforcement agents in last May, criminal gun traffickers who provide weapons to violent offenders are an enforcement priority across the nation.
I also want to note that we can do even more to hold criminal gun traffickers accountable — and to get more illegal guns off the streets — if we have more resources. We need resources to trace the guns our state and local law enforcement partners recover from crime scenes.
We need resources to bring to justice those who perpetrate gun crimes. And we need resources to disrupt the criminal gun trafficking networks that fuel violent crime. That is why we have asked for — and the President’s FY 2023 budget has requested — a substantial increase in funding for the Justice Department’s anti-violent crime efforts.
Gun deaths in our country occur at a staggering pace. Every day on average, about a hundred Americans are killed and hundreds more are wounded. And those numbers do not even begin to capture the number of families who are affected by this violence, or the communities terrorized by it. If we are going to put an end to the enduring tragedy of gun violence — we need the resources to do it.
In closing, I want to thank all of the federal agents, prosecutors, and personnel who worked on this case. That includes members of the ATF, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division; the Internal Revenue Service-CI; and the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Middle District of Tennessee and the Northern District of Illinois. I also want to thank our invaluable local partners from the Chicago Police Department, the Clarksville Police Department, and the Davenport Police Department.
I want to make one point abundantly clear: The Justice Department will spare no resource to hold accountable criminal gun traffickers. There is no hiding place for those who flood our communities with illegal guns and terrorize our citizens.
It does not matter where you are, or how far you travel. If you illegally traffic guns, we and our law enforcement partners nationwide, will find you. With that, I will turn the program over to the U.S Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee.