Crime

Chicago Man Faces Federal Charges for Shooting ATF Agent

Ernesto Godinez, 27, of Chicago, was charged in connection with the shooting of an ATF Agent engaged in his official duties. A federal criminal complaint charges him with assault of a Federal Officer with a dangerous and deadly weapon.

Godinez made an initial court appearance today before United States Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez, who ordered him detained until a detention hearing on Thursday, May 17th at 11:00 am.

The charges were announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Celinez Nunez, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives; and Eddie Johnson, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department. Substantial assistance in the investigation of and search for Godinez was provided by the United States Marshals Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Chicago office of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Illinois State Police, and several other local police departments.

The officials noted that the investigation continues.

“Violent assaults on law enforcement agents working to make the community safer will not be tolerated,” remarked U.S. Attorney Lausch. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to holding such offenders accountable, as are our local, state, and Federal law enforcement partners, whose tireless investigation to identify and locate the defendant after the shooting made this prosecution possible.”   Continue reading

Las Vegas Man Charged with Selling Hundreds of Firearms Without a License

Welcome to Las VegasA Las Vegas man who allegedly sold hundreds of firearms without a license, some of which were subsequently used in crimes, was charged in federal court today, announced U.S. Attorney Dayle Elieson for the District of Nevada.

Sylvester Mitchell, 47, made his initial appearance in court before U.S. District Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen. He was charged by a federal criminal complaint with one count of dealing in firearms without a license. The charge carries a maximum term of five years in prison. A preliminary hearing is set for May 16, 2018.

As alleged in the criminal complaint that was unsealed today, Mitchell purchased approximately 438 firearms between January 2004 and November 2017. Of those firearms, approximately 42 were subsequently recovered and found to have been illegally possessed, used in a crime, or suspected to have been used in a crime. Those firearms were recovered in Southern California, Nevada, and Mexico. Two of the most recent recoveries were from homicide scenes in Las Vegas, Nevada. Over the course of 2017, Mitchell purchased 199 firearms for a total cost of $58,942.

The complaint alleges that Mitchell, who did not have a license to sell firearms, placed several advertisements offering firearms for sale on Backpage.com. ATF records showed a pattern of Mitchell purchasing new firearms from Federal Firearm Licensees (FFLs) on a weekly basis and that he went to multiple FFLs on the same day. In some instances, he purchased firearms from FFLs and posted the firearms for sale on Backpage.com a few days or weeks later. It further alleges that between June 1, 2017 and September 14, 2017, law enforcement conducted multiple undercover firearms purchases from Mitchell based on his Backpage.com advertisements. Among the purchases was an AR-15 rifle.

A criminal complaint contains allegations that the defendant has committed a crime, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

The case is being investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Burton is prosecuting the case.

United States Attorney Annonces Charges Against More than Two Dozen Felons in Law Enforcement Surge to Reduce Violent Crime

Several Charged in a Conspiracy with Stealing Nearly One-Hundred Firearms from Licensed Dealers in Kentucky

United States Attorney Russell M. Coleman announced that the Louisville Federal Grand Jury returned 21 felony indictments charging 23 individuals this week with multiple counts, including firearms violations, possession and distribution of scheduled drugs as well as the filing of an additional criminal complaint of two Tennessee residents charged in a conspiracy of stealing nearly one-hundred firearms from dealers licensed in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

“These arrests are yet another significant deposit on our promise to reduce violence in this Commonwealth,” stated United States Attorney Coleman. “Working together with our law enforcement partners, we will not concede one block of our city to drug traffickers, gang members, or, as we demonstrated today, felons with firearms. Stay tuned.”

U.S. Attorney Coleman was joined in today’s announcement by the Jefferson County Commonwealth’s Attorney Thomas Wine, ATF Special Agent in Charge Stuart Lowery, and LMPD Chief Steve Conrad, who stood shoulder to shoulder with numerous prosecutors from the United States Attorney’s Office, in a committed effort and shared partnership to reduce violent crime. These charges were developed through an ongoing partnership of multiple law enforcement agencies to maximize penalties for the most violent repeat offenders.

This week, Kashma Floyd Dardy, Jr. of Nashville, Tennessee, and Marvin Dale Johnson, of Madison Tennessee, were charged with conspiring and stealing firearms from licensed dealers located in Bowling Green and Owensboro, Kentucky. Dardy was charged with the burglary of Wheeler’s Fastway Gun and Pawn located at 4848 Scottsville Road in Bowling Green. Johnson was charged with the burglary of Wheeler’s as well as another burglary of Whittaker Guns, LLC, located at 6980 West Louisville Lane in Owensboro. According to the affidavit attached to the criminal complaint, firearms stolen from the dealers were recovered from both defendants.   Continue reading

Media Sensationalism Partly to Blame for School Shootings, Says SAF

Second Amendment FoundationWhen anti-gunners point fingers of blame for tragic school shootings, there is plenty of room for media sensationalism in that ugly spotlight, the Second Amendment Foundation said today.

“The heartbreaking attack on students and faculty at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida is made even more terrible because the suspect is getting more than his share of fame,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “His face has been all over television and newspaper front pages, and there is a concern that this kind of attention might inspire somebody else to seek this same kind of infamy.”

Gottlieb pointed to a project at Texas State University’s ALERRT (for Advance Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training) Center called “Don’t Name Them.” It recognizes the responsibility of the press to identify criminal suspects, using their names and likenesses to help in the apprehension, and to report criminal charges. However, beyond that, the “Don’t Name Them” effort encourages the press to instead focus on the victims.   Continue reading

ATF, Rock County Sheriff Host Educational Seminar in Response to FFL Burglary Uptick

Our town has experienced a number of smash-and-grab, vehicle-through-the-front-of-the-store firearm burglaries over the past year or two, so it was interesting to see this being addressed in at least some places.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, along with the Rock County Sheriff’s Office, hosted an educational seminar for federal firearms licensees on February 15, at the Rock County Courthouse in Janesville, WI. The seminar was set up in response to the rash of gun store burglaries that recently occurred in southwest Wisconsin.

Despite gun shop counter-talk, there are no federal laws requiring FFLs to secure their firearms, ATF’s industry operations investigators recommend a variety of measures to reduce the number of gun store burglaries. Licensees received information on ideal methods for securing their inventories including installation of alarm systems and other physical security measures, as well as best practices in record keeping to ensure a good record of inventory is in place.

“Partnering with firearms dealers is critical in order to prevent thefts and keep our communities safe,” said Director of Industry Operations Hans Hummel, who is responsible for regulatory operations of ATF’s Saint Paul Field Division. “We want licensees to be aware that there are low-cost solutions that can be implemented. Many burglaries can be prevented with just a few safeguards in place.”   Continue reading

NSSF, BATFE Jointly Launch Operation Secure Store

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for the firearms and ammunition industry, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) announced today the launch of Operation Secure Store (OSS), a comprehensive joint initiative to help Federal Firearms Licensees (FFL) make well-informed security-related decisions to deter and prevent thefts.

Central to the OSS initiative is NSSF’s prior partnerships with ATF to help prevent thefts from FFLs through educational programming, such as the ongoing series of regional seminars hosted by ATF. Additionally, the organizations’ matching rewards program becomes an anchor component of the program, effectively doubling the money offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for thefts from licensed retailers.

“No one wants to prevent the theft of firearms more than the licensed retailers that sell them,” said Stephen L. Sanetti, NSSF president and chief executive officer. “There is no one-size fits all solution to helping prevent thefts from firearms retailers, which is why Operation Secure Store will provide access to information and training to allow retailers to make the decisions that are right for them.”

“It’s clear from the crime guns we recover every day that firearms stolen from FFL retailers are a serious threat to public safety” said ATF Deputy Director Thomas Brandon. “To mitigate this threat, ATF welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with the NSSF to educate and inform FFL retailers on how they can enhance the security of their businesses.”

More information about the initiative will be announced in the weeks ahead.

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