NJ State Police work to seize illegal guns
HAMILTON, N.J. - May 13, 2012 (WPVI) -- New Jersey State Police have increased their efforts to get illegal guns off the street and out of the hands of people who would use them against others.
And it looks like the effort is paying off.
Assault rifles, submachine guns, handguns; in the past three weeks 52 weapons like these have been seized by NJ State Police in towns like Camden, Atlantic City and Trenton. It is the result of a new focus on getting guns off the street.
29 defendants have also been charged with possession and weapons trafficking.
"There is an unmistakable connection between the drug trade and illegal guns, and we're using drug investigations to aggressively go after guns," said New Jersey Attorney General Jeff Chiesa.
By doubling the number of detectives working gun trafficking and establishing a bureau devoted to it, the Attorney General says over 100 guns have been confiscated since January. That is as many as all of the weapons seized in 2010.
State Police are focused on where the guns are coming from, who is using them and who is selling them. And they are working to connect the weapons they seize to other cases.
"So a gun, a shell casing in a shooting can match up with another shell casing in a homicide," explained Lt. Col. Matt Wilson.
Technicians at the State Police ballistics lab in Hamilton, New Jersey have already been able to match some of the guns seized recently to 1 murder and a shooting because of the unique finger print of spent bullets.
"There is going to be striated marks and compressed marks left on those ammunition components, and under a microscope we can see whether or not any of the patterns are the same," said Detective Sgt. Bob Cowden.
Police say the high-powered weapons they are seizing are frequently used by gangs protecting their drug trade.
"Those guns are to injure and kill other people, especially law enforcement officers," said Chiesa.
The Attorney General says that threat to police and the public is why cops are trying to disrupt the supply chain of illegal weapons and aggressively prosecute the criminals caught with them.
guns, gangs, new jersey, local/state, nora muchanic
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