Chicago cops hope money talks in new gun smuggling effort

CHICAGO (AP) – The Chicago Police Department on Monday announced a new team of officers, prosecutors and federal agents that will target gun trafficking, an effort that relies heavily on providing information in money exchange.

During a press conference, Police Superintendent David Brown said he was convinced that the offer of money from a $ 1 million fund for tips that Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced last week will be convincing.

“I have seen criminals for a fair price, hand over their mother,” he said. “I have.”

Brown did not provide any details on how much people would receive for tips to the new gun investigation team, but said the amount would be significant.

Whistleblowers can be made anonymously and, if this information results in arrests or a charge, the department will protect the identity of informants, police spokesman Tom Ahern said.

Police have long paid for information, but Brown said the department has never launched a similar program specifically targeting gun trafficking and straw buyers – people who legally buy guns and then supply them. to people who cannot legally buy them.

“The point of this is to get the weapon before it hits the streets at traffic level,” he said.

Elena Gottreich, deputy director of prosecution strategies for the department and one of the leaders of the new team, said that although the department collects thousands of illegal weapons a year, “we didn’t have the mechanism to intercept the guns before they go out into the streets ”.

After another bloody weekend that ended with more than 60 people shot dead, 10 of them fatally, and with homicide totals set to rise in what is typically the most violent time of yearBrown said it is especially important to seek out those who are unwilling to provide information.

“Anyone know who gets paid as a third party to buy guns for a violent person in this town, which would lead to a drive-by shootout on young people celebrating graduation, who were reluctant to hand them over to the police, ”he said, referring to a Saturday night shooting on the West Side in which a 12-year-old girl and four teenagers were shot and wounded at an outdoor party.

Brown also said the team – which includes Cook County and federal prosecutors – will charge gun traffickers “with the highest possible crime.”

The announcement comes days after Brown and Lightfoot spoke to President Joe Biden on what his administration might do about gun violence in Chicago. When Brown returned from the White House, he said he would launch a new initiative soon.

Biden recently announced that he would be deploying “strike force teams” to Chicago and other major cities, but Brown said he had to do something independent of that effort.

“Chicago cannot wait for the strike force,” he said. “We must do all we can from a law enforcement perspective to take the guns off the streets of violent people,” he said.

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