ATLANTA – Forty-nine people face local and state firearms, drug trafficking, and theft charges following “a storefront sting operation” conducted by the Atlanta Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
As part of the operation, investigators say they removed 257 handguns, 60 rifles, 46 shotguns, and 10 sawed-off shotguns from the streets.
“This operation is a direct result of the collaborative efforts with our federal law enforcement partners that I strongly support and encourage,” Atlanta Police Chief George Turner said in a news release. “Crime knows no borders, and recognizes no uniforms or agency insignia; neither should our efforts to combat those who seek to traffic in criminal activity.”
In a release, U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said the “undercover operation was strategically aimed at felons and violent criminals who are flooding our streets with illegal guns.” The ATF started the storefront operation, code-named “ATL Blaze” and located on Campbellton Road in Southwest Atlanta, in late 2010.
“Operation ‘ATL Blaze’ was a bold joint operation designed to protect our communities by removing violent criminals involved in armed drug trafficking and the unlawful use and possession of firearms in the city of Atlanta,” ATF Special Agent in Charge Gregory Gant said in a news release. “The types of crimes these defendants were involved with directly threatens the stability of our communities and dreams of our youth.
“The city of Atlanta cannot afford to be without the hopes of any of its citizens; therefore we must do all we can to keep every one of them safe and protected,” Gant added. “Every neighborhood deserves to be a safe neighborhood. This aggressive law enforcement collaboration sends a clear message that those individuals who threaten the very fabric of our communities will be dealt with.”