Federal prosecutors in Chicago are not prosecuting as many high-level gun traffickers as other cities, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
While former U.S. Attorney Zach Fardon said his office had made gun crimes a top priority and opened 105 weapons cases last year, a Chicago Sun-Times analysis of court data shows that few of the cases involved gun traffickers at the highest criminal level.
Approximately 60 percent of gun cases were related to defendants whose most serious charge was illegal possession or transportation of guns. About 20 percent were charged with conducting a drug deal with a gun, and even fewer were charged with the more serious crime of trafficking firearms.
According to the Sun-Times, Chicago trails many other major cities in gun-crime prosecutions, with Manhattan and Detroit having moved forward with about twice as many gun cases last year.
In an open letter focused on Chicago’s gun crime, Fardon noted that his office was never fully staffed with the attorneys needed to keep pace with criminals in the city.
“If you want more federal gang and gun prosecutions, we need more full-time, permanent federal prosecutors in Chicago,” Fardon wrote.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said he will make gun cases a high priority and reiterated this point in a speech last Wednesday.
“We need to use every lawful tool we have to get the most violent offenders off our streets,” Sessions said. “This Department of Justice will systematically prosecute criminals who use guns in committing crimes.”
Then at a meeting with police chiefs from around the country on Thursday, Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson backed up Fardon’s call for more prosecutors.
“For a city that’s struggling with gun violence, we have one of the lowest federal gun-prosecution rates, and that should not be,” Johnson said, according to CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.
Johnson also told Sessions more federal agents were needed in the city and asked for the expansion of Project Exile, which targets felons illegally possessing guns.
According to Guglielmi, Sessions did not make promises but was “very, very receptive.”