The arrests of 19 people in Chicago and Mississippi in a gun-trafficking conspiracy offer a snapshot into the illegal gun trade in which gang members end up with high-powered weapons, reports the Chicago Tribune. A loose organization of relatives, their friends, and associates allegedly arranged to purchase of more than 100 guns in Mississippi, where laws are relatively lax, and transport them to Chicago for sale to gangs such as the Gangster Disciples. Three dozen weapons eventually were recovered at Chicago crime scenes, including a shootout last year in which two people were killed and a police officer wounded.
Federal prosecutor Gary Shapiro said gun-running operations like the one dismantled yesterday contribute significantly to crime in the city. Authorities said gun brokers in Chicago worked with traffickers, who recruited buyers in Mississippi. Those buyers made “straw purchases” at a group of three pawn shops and a gun store in Clarksdale and Tunica, Ms., falsely claiming that the guns were for them.