The FBI arrested thousands of violent criminals and gang members across the country during an aggressive crackdown on drugs and guns from May 1 to September 2, according to a new report by the agency.
The report, released on September 13, announced that throughout the summer months, the FBI and local and state law enforcement agencies arrested nearly 6,000 alleged criminals and gang members and seized more than 2,700 illegal firearms and millions of dollars’ worth of fentanyl and other illicit drugs. They also disrupted nearly 845 and dismantled 105 violent gangs and criminal enterprises.
FBI Director Christopher Wray said the effort was the agency’s response to quell the rise in crime across the nation.
“Violent crime is on the minds of a lot of Americans right now and top of mind for police chiefs and sheriffs, who constantly tell me that the rising rate of gun and gang violence is one of their most important and difficult challenges,” Wray said.
“I believe the FBI’s most sacred duty is to ensure people can live free from fear in their own homes and neighborhoods,” Wray continued. “To that end, we dedicate agents, analysts and technical resources across the country to work with state and local law enforcement on these operations.”
Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said the results confirmed the success of the agency’s efforts to fight violent crime over the year.
“Keeping our communities and our country safe is the Justice Department’s priority, every single day. At the beginning of this year, we further intensified our department-wide efforts to combat violent crime, including by directing all 94 U.S. Attorneys’ offices to develop and implement district-specific violent crime reduction strategies,” Garland stated. “Together with our law enforcement partners across the country, we will continue to do everything we can to protect our communities from violent crime.”
Violent crime has been a priority of law enforcement agencies over the past two years after rising to historic levels.
Indeed, the U.S. recorded around seven homicides per 100,000 people in 2021 — the highest homicide rate in 25 years.
Drug overdoses — particularly those involving the potent synthetic opioid fentanyl — also remain an urgent problem.
In 2021, the country experienced a record high of 107,000 overdose deaths.
The FBI showcased its efforts with local agencies from the East to West Coast.
In Albuquerque, New Mexico, the FBI’s Violent Gang Task Force executed 16 search warrants targeting several street and prison gangs, and seized over a million fentanyl pills, 142 pounds of methamphetamine, 37 firearms, two hand grenades, nine ballistic vests and around $1.8 million in cash.
Officials added that the Los Angeles Metropolitan Task Force on Violent Gangs arrested 28 members of the South L.A.–based gang “Eastside Playboys” on alleged charges related to federal racketeering, firearms and narcotics. The FBI–LAPD joint task force also hauled in around 47 firearms, 200 kilos of meth, 27 kilos of cocaine, 13 kilos of fentanyl and around 8 kilos of heroin.
In addition, 10 Houston-based MS-13 gang members were indicted on a litany of charges, including racketeering conspiracy and seven murders.
“These murders were allegedly brutal in nature and include the killing of a juvenile female and a police informant. The murders also included multiple acts of mutilation and dismemberment with machetes,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas wrote about the case.
The Sacramento, California, FBI office also made several arrests in the South Lake Tahoe area, seizing a variety of drugs and guns, including homemade ghost guns.
Additionally, 25 individuals who were part of a nationwide drug trafficking operation were arrested in Pennsylvania, along with 41 gang members in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.
In late June, a fentanyl distribution ring in New Haven, Connecticut, was also busted and led to the arrests of 16 individuals.