In January, President Trump tweeted that he’d “send in the Feds!” to Chicago, citing the city’s miserable statistics on shootings. Yesterday, authorities confirmed that about 20 additional agents with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have been sent to Chicago to combat gun violence, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Today, Trump tweeted about the whole thing, saying “Crime and killings in Chicago have reached such epidemic proportions that I am sending in Federal help. 1714 shootings in Chicago this year!” The Sun-Times’ count is that 1,737 people have been shot this year, more than 300 of them fatally.
The ATF agents are working with about 20 counterparts from the Chicago Police Department and Illinois State Police on a strike force whose mission is to solve shootings and hunt down gun traffickers through ballistics technology. Prosecutors from the U.S. attorney’s office and Cook County state’s attorney’s office have been assigned to the force to decide whether suspects in gun crimes should be charged in state or federal court. “The goal is to prosecute as many of these guys as possible federally where they will serve longer prison terms,” said Anthony Riccio, head of the Chicago Police Department’s organized crime unit. The strike force is operating on intelligence gathered from the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network, ATF’s digital catalogue of the unique marks created when bullets are fired — like fingerprints for guns. “We’ve been doing this all along but now it’s being amped up,” said ATF spokesman Dave Coulson. “It’s a more concerted effort.” Riccio said the strike force, which officially began on June 1, has developed a “bunch of leads” so far.