(KMOV.com) – Capping a four-month joint investigation led by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives 159 suspects are now facing charges.
This initiative, dubbed the Violent Crime Reduction Partnership (VCRP), resulted in the indictments of 110 individuals to be prosecuted in Missouri and 49 who will be prosecuted in Illinois. The defendants have been charged with a variety of federal and state firearms, narcotics and robbery offenses.
Beginning in April 2013, more than 80 ATF personnel from throughout the country were working in the cities of St. Louis and East St. Louis. To combat the high rate of violent crime in these cities, the agents worked together with the Illinois State Police, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and other federal, state and local partners.
As a result of this effort, a total of 267 firearms, more than 25 ounces of methamphetamine, more than three pounds of crack cocaine/cocaine, more than seven pounds of marijuana and more than one and a half pounds of heroin were purchased or seized.
On July 10, more than 150 law enforcement officers searched for the remaining defendants who were not already in custody. Those not arrested by Thursday are considered fugitives.
As a whole, the 159 defendants have been the subjects of 1,718 felony arrests and 78% of the defendants are previously convicted felons.
"This is one of the most significant law enforcement operations in our city in the last decade. It will result in less crime and less violence in our city,” said St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. “But, law enforcement cannot do it alone. Many of these suspects should have been in prison already.Combined, they had already been ... convicted more than 500 times. And yet, they were in our neighborhoods – armed and dangerous."
This was the ninth multi-month VCRP that ATF personnel have completed throughout the United States. This is the first VCRP that spanned two ATF field divisions and two U.S. attorney’s offices.