WASHINGTON — The Justice Department is dispatching seven additional federal gun enforcement agents to Chicago in an attempt to blunt the spate of firearm violence that has plagued the city.
Attorney General Eric Holder will announce the move Thursday involving the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents, fulfilling a promise to local officials he made last fall.
With the additional agents, the ATF will have 52 agents in Chicago. The FBI also has increased its staffing by 20 agents during the summer months, bringing its total to 120.
"The Department of Justice will continue to do everything in its power to help the city of Chicago combat gun violence," Holder will say, according to remarks prepared for the announcement. "These new agents are a sign of the federal government's ongoing commitment to helping local leaders ensure Chicago's streets are safe."
The increased deployments represent part of an effort to bolster federal collaboration with local police. In June, the ATF opened a firearms intelligence center, a multi-agency initiative to generate leads in cases involving the illegal sale of firearms.
Justice officials said gun crime is the primary driver of homicide in Chicago, and 60% of the guns recovered in violent crimes in Chicago were originally sold in other states and trafficked into the city.
ATF Director B. Todd Jones says in remarks prepared for the announcement: "ATF's commitment to targeting traffickers and trigger pullers in Chicago is bolstered by these additional resources."
Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy is also scheduled to participate in the event.