Justice Department launches gun ‘strike forces’ in five major cities

The Biden Justice Department is deploying gun trafficking “strike forces” to Washington and four other major cities this week, part of a push to contain a recent national surge in violent crime.

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland will visit Chicago Thursday afternoon to launch the strike forces, which will also be set up in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

The units will share information and coordinate the prosecution of gun crimes across multiple jurisdictions. They are part of President Biden’s Violent Crime Reduction Initiative announced last month in response to an uptick in violent crimes across the country, particularly shootings and homicides.

More than 550 people nationwide were reportedly shot this month during the Fourth of July weekend. And homicides are up in at least 38 large cities in the first three months of this year compared to the same time in 2020, according to a recent report by the Major Cities Chiefs Association.

Over the longer term, the new strike forces will work to disrupt illegal gun selling networks. Officials say the new effort will coordinate activities across a much broader area for a much longer time frame than similar efforts in cities like Chicago and New York.

“These previous approaches generally surged resources to specific areas, without a sustained focus on cross-jurisdictional trafficking,” the department said. “Now we are formalizing and standardizing coordination between districts. This strategy is focused on trafficking — keeping firearms out of the hands of those who will pull the trigger.”

Justice Department officials say they are also performing fugitive sweeps and adding crime analysts. Additionally, federal agents are being sent to assist in homicide units at local police departments.

Mr. Garland is set to meet with Illinois-based Justice Department officials on Friday.

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