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Justice Department operation aimed at curbing violent crime yields 1,500 arrests

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Washington — More the 1,500 fugitives, violent criminals, sex offenders and gang members were apprehended as part of a month-long operation that aimed to combat violent crime in 10 cities, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.

Deemed "Operation North Star" and led by the U.S. Marshals Services, the 30-day initiative lasted throughout the month of June and was focused on cities with a high number of homicides and shootings: Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Memphis, New Orleans, New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. 

The Justice Department said the operation targeted those who were wanted tor "the most serious, violent and harmful offenses," including homicide, sexual assault, robbery or aggravated assault. Suspects who used guns in their crimes or showed risk factors associated with violence were prioritized, according to the department.

Attorney General Merrick Garland received a briefing by the head of the U.S. Marshals Services about the initiative on Wednesday and told reporters the operation is an "example of our efforts to protect our communities from violence and gun violence."

Department Of Justice Holds Briefing On Combatting Violent Crime
Attorney General Merrick Garland at Justice Department headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, July 6, 2022. Bonnie Cash/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Through the operation, federal agents arrested 230 people for homicide and 131 for sexual assault. Investigators also seized 166 firearms, more than $53,600 in currency and more than 33 kilograms of illegal narcotics, the department said.

Those arrested include three people — 34-year-old Rashaan Vereen, 18-year-old Quran Garner and a 15-year-old — who are suspected in a June 4 shooting in downtown Philadelphia that left three people dead and 11 injured. 

Garland has taken several steps to address a surge in gun violence and violent crime since taking the helm of the Justice Department, including launching five gun trafficking strike forces last year aimed at curbing the supply of firearms trafficked into key regions across the country.

President Biden and Garland also tasked the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives more than a year ago with cracking down on federal firearms licensers who violate key regulations, and directed the bureau with proposing a new rule to stem the proliferation of so-called ghost guns.

The final rule was issued in April and requires commercial manufacturers of ghost gun assembly kits to include serial numbers. Commercial sellers must also become federally licensed, run background checks before a sale and maintain records of purchases for as long as they're in business.

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