- The Washington Times - Monday, May 7, 2018

A two-month initiative to reduce violent crime in north Alabama has resulted in gun charges against 71 defendants and 140 guns seized, the Department of Justice announced Monday.

About 24 of the defendants are based in Jefferson County, Alabama with others failing from Talladega and Birmingham, the Justice Department said. At least five defendants indicted in March also face drug distribution charges.

“At the Department of Justice, we’ve increased violent crime prosecutions to 25-year highs and gun prosecutions to 10-year highs,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement announcing the charges. “Under our Project Safe Neighborhoods program, I’ve directed our U.S. Attorneys to target the most violent criminals in the most high-crime areas, and to work with people in the community to develop a customized crime-reduction plan.”

The majority of the 71 defendants have at least one prior felony conviction and the total number of prior convictions tops 160, according to Justice Department data. There are at least 40 additional arrests among the defendants for violent offenses, including domestic violence, assault and attempted murder, the Justice Department said.

The two-month gun sweep was lead by a joint effort between the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms.

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