(STL.News) – U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder announced that, in 2019, the U.S. Attorney’s Office charged 65 defendants with unlawful possession of a firearm. These indictments emphasize prosecution against individuals convicted of felonies or misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence, and who would therefore be prohibited from possessing firearms.
Unlawful possession of a firearm carries a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in federal prison. To date, nine of the 65 defendants face additional charges for their alleged participation in varied criminal conduct that involved firearms, including bank robbery and armed drug trafficking.
“Violent crime remains a critical problem in Alaska,” said U.S. Attorney Schroder. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office has made prosecution of gun crimes one of our highest priorities. As a result of these efforts, we have taken over 200 gun carrying criminals off the streets since 2017.”
The charges are a result of initiatives stemming from Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the Department of Justice’s signature gun and gang reduction program, and the District’s Anti-Violent Crime Strategy, which brings together local, state, and federal authorities to combat rising crime in Alaska. As part of this strategy, the Anchorage Police Department is also utilizing ATF’s National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN), which is the only national network that allows for the capture and comparison of ballistic evidence. NIBIN is a proven investigative and intelligence tool that can link firearms from multiple crime scenes, allowing law enforcement to quickly disrupt shooting cycles.
These cases are often developed through cooperation with the State of Alaska Department of Law, and investigated by local, state, and federal authorities to include the Anchorage Police Department (APD), Alaska State Troopers (AST), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). In addition, and in partnership with the Municipality of Anchorage, an Assistant Municipal Prosecutor has been appointed to the U.S. Attorney’s Office to prosecute firearm and drug offenses as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney (SAUSA).
Last month, the Department of Justice announced the launch of Project Guardian, a nationwide strategic plan to reduce gun violence. Project Guardian serves as a complementary effort to the success of PSN, and emphasizes the importance of using all modern technologies available to law enforcement to promote gun crime intelligence.