Following a recent visit to The Windy City meeting with the mayor and the city’s top cop, Attorney General Eric Holder announced plans July 17 to assign seven addition federal agents to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives field office in Chicago.
“These new agents are a sign of the federal government’s ongoing commitment to helping local leaders ensure Chicago’s streets are safe,” Holder said in a news release.
The new ATF agents will work with the 45 other agents currently assigned to Chicago in coordinating efforts with the U.S. Attorney’s Office as well as other federal, state and local law enforcement reduce the trafficking of illegal guns into the city and in turn combat the gun violence plaguing specific areas within the city.
Also, the U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon plans to restructure the Criminal Division in his office by naming a team of prosecutors to work specifically on violent crime.
According to a news release by the office, gun crime is the primary driver of homicides in Chicago, and 60 percent of the guns recovered in violent crimes in the city were originally sold in other states and trafficked into the city.
Given the interstate nature of these crimes, it is critical that federal and local law enforcement work together to identify traffickers and enforce federal gun laws, Fardon said.
Currently, the FBI has more than 100 agents in Chicago assigned to combat gang and violent crime. And since gun crime tends to rise during the summer — for instance, Chicago had a devastating July 4 weekend with 84 people either injured or killed due to gun violence — 20 extra FBI agents are temporally assigned to the crime units.
Along with the additionally manpower, in June the ATF opened the Chicago Crime Gun Intelligence Center, a high-tech hub for federal agents, and state and local authorities to share information and collaborate.