Announcement Follows Meeting with Denver Metro Gang Task Force
DENVER (LAWFUEL) – Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey today met with Denver’s Metro Gang Task Force, and announced that the Department of Justice intends to award more than $17 million to combat gangs and gun crime around the country through locally organized Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) task forces.
During the meeting, the Attorney General was briefed on several major gang takedowns that the Metro Gang Task Force has led recently. Last month, the Task Force concluded a two and a half year investigation resulting in the indictment of 27 members of the Asian Pride street gang for distributing hundreds of thousands of ecstasy tablets in the Denver area. Last year, its work resulted in the indictment of 80 members of the Rolling 30s Crips and the Tre Tre Crips on charges of distributing crack cocaine and cocaine, money laundering, and firearms offenses.
The Task Force unites federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to effectively fight gangs in the Denver metro area. The Task Force includes the FBI; ATF; the Denver Police Department; the Aurora Police Department; the Adams County Sheriff’s Office; the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office; the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office; the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office; the Thornton Police Department; the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area; the Denver District Attorney’s Office; the Colorado Bureau of Investigation; the Colorado Department of Corrections; the Colorado State Patrol; and the Colorado Air National Guard.
The funds announced today will be distributed to each of the country’s 94 judicial districts. The U.S. Attorneys in each of those districts, working with local law enforcement and other officials, tailor their PSN strategy to fit the unique crime problem in that district. Colorado will receive $196,000 in PSN funding.
The PSN task forces are a cooperative effort between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and prosecutors, along with research and media outreach partners, as well as community leaders. Since 2001, the Bush Administration has committed approximately $2 billion to federal, state and local efforts to fight gun crime and gang violence. These funds have been used to hire more than 200 federal prosecutors and over 550 new state and local prosecutors to focus on gun crime; provide training; hire research and community outreach support; and develop and promote effective prevention and deterrence efforts. Each district engages in deterrence and prevention efforts through community outreach and media campaigns, and ensures that law enforcement and prosecutors have the training necessary to make the program work. Nearly $4 million of the funding announced today will be used for training and technical assistance to train additional personnel and support program infrastructure so that PSN can be sustained in the years ahead. To date, the national PSN training and technical assistance partners have trained nearly 33,000 individuals in over 300 nationally-sponsored training events across the nation who work to make our communities safer. Local PSN programs have organized training for many thousands more.
To date, the efforts of PSN task forces have yielded strong results, including:
In FY 2007, the Department prosecuted 12,087 defendants on federal firearms cases. Nearly 94 percent of those offenders received prison terms and nearly 75 percent were sentenced to three or more years in prison.
From FY 2001 to 2007, the Department of Justice has filed 68,543 cases against 83,106 defendants for federal firearms violations. This represents more than a 100 percent increase in cases filed over the prior seven year period.
The grants announced today are administered by the Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance, and support a comprehensive approach to fight gang violence and gun crime. The more than 150 PSN task forces across the country build effective local partnerships, use research tools to guide and measure the impact of their strategies, provide comprehensive training to law enforcement officers and others, convey the initiative’s message to the community, and build productive coalitions with citizens.
The funds complement existing Department of Justice programs to combat gangs and reduce gun-related crime throughout the country, including the Comprehensive Anti-Gang initiative, launched in May 2006. The initiative has provided resources for prevention, enforcement and offender re-entry efforts to 12 sites nationwide, including Los Angeles, Tampa, Cleveland, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Milwaukee and the “222 Corridor” that stretches from Easton to Lancaster in Pennsylvania; Indianapolis; Oklahoma City; Rochester, N.Y.; Raleigh/Durham, N.C.; and most recently, Chicago and Detroit.