- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—Laredo ranks among the top 10 Texas cities for firearm traces, states a recently obtained Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives report.

The city ranked number eight with 327 firearm recovery traces during 2014. Houston tops the list with 3,450 traces.

“Firearm traces provide critical investigative leads to law enforcement and can link a suspect to a firearm in a criminal investigation, identify potential traffickers, and detect local, interstate and international patterns in the sources and types of crime guns,” ATF said.

“Traces provide information on the movement of a crime gun from the manufacturer or importer through distributors and ultimately to the retail point of sale and purchaser.”

A firearms trace data report states ATF’s enforcement mission is the tracing of firearms on behalf of thousands of federal, state, local and foreign law enforcement agencies.

The work cannot be done without the assistance of local law enforcement, such as the Laredo Police Department, ATF said.

Special Agent Nicole Strong, ATF spokeswoman, said ATF’s relationship with LPD is used as a model around the nation for perfecting investigations, using resources of both agencies and combining efforts to take down the worst criminals.

“Texas has a history of, and continues to be, a state which loves its guns.

Our ongoing efforts to stop guns from crossing into Mexico remain a top priority,” Strong added.

Investigator Joe E. Baeza, LPD spokesman, said the department has officers assigned to the ATF task force.

Those officers are members of the LPD Bomb Squad as well.

“They’ve been successful in joint operations with ATF, working numerous cases,” Baeza said.

“This is one of the pivotal divisions in regards to being able to link repeat criminals with unlawful possessions of firearms and (they) have been able to put a lot people away for a longer period of time with more punitive punishment in federal prison.”

(César G. Rodriguez may be reached at 728-2568 or [email protected])

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(c)2015 the Laredo Morning Times (Laredo, Texas)

Visit the Laredo Morning Times (Laredo, Texas) at www.lmtonline.com

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