Justice Department Announces New Surge of Resources to Fight Violent Crime

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Memphis, Tennessee, Will See Significant Rise in Prosecutorial Resources

Memphis, TN – The Justice Department, together with numerous law enforcement partners, met today at the Memphis Police Department’s (MPD) Real Time Crime Center to announce a new initiative to surge law enforcement tools and resources to target gangs and other violent groups who are threatening and upending the safety and security of communities in Memphis.

“Violent crime deprives communities of a fundamental sense of security in their own homes and neighborhoods,” said Acting Assistant Attorney Nicole M. Argentieri of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “This violent crime initiative will bring additional tools and resources used to investigate and prosecute violent crime and apply those tools to gangs and groups who are harming and disrupting communities here in Memphis.”

The new initiative includes federal prosecutors from the Violent Crime and Racketeering Section, the nation’s foremost experts in charging federal racketeering (RICO) crimes, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorneys already working in Memphis and dedicated investigative agents, analysts, and forensic experts from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the MPD.

“Through data-driven, targeted, and focused enforcement against the worst-of-the-worst violent criminals and organized groups, coupled with a strong focus on crime prevention, intervention, and reentry, I believe all of us, working together, can make an incredible difference and secure a safer future for all of Memphis,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Argentieri.

“As U.S. Attorney and a lifelong Memphian, I know the citizens of this city are sick and tired of gun violence and violent crime,” said U.S. Attorney Kevin G. Ritz for the Western District of Tennessee. “I am too. The threat from organized criminal enterprises requires that we bring significant resources to bear. These additional prosecutors, working hand-in-hand our office’s experienced Assistant U.S. Attorneys and law enforcement partners, will build cases against gang members, trigger-pullers, and shot-callers.”

The initiative will also include efforts to invest in prevention and intervention, and the department will work with the Western District of Tennessee’s innovative Reentry Court Program and community organizations to assist offenders in reentering and reintegrating into their communities. As part of the announcement, Acting Assistant Attorney General Argentieri and U.S. Attorney Ritz met with community members to hear directly from them about the violence and gang activity in their neighborhoods. 

“Initiatives like this are not about one takedown – they’re about working in partnership to build a long term and sustainable plan to fight gun crime. ATF Memphis does that every day,” said ATF Director Steven M. Dettelbach. “This summer, with the MPD and other state, local, and federal partners, we focused efforts here, using crime gun intelligence to help protect the people of this great city. Now we are here with additional partners both locally and nationally to continue that work — that impact. By combining traditional investigative techniques with advancements in technology, ATF is creating data-driven investigations that turn into evidence-driven prosecutions of the most dangerous offenders.

“This violent crime initiative serves as a force multiplier to empower law enforcement, our partners, and communities to proactively fight against violent crime in big cities and small towns across our nation,” said Executive Assistant Director Timothy Langan of the FBI’s Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch. “The FBI, in close collaboration with the Justice Department and our law enforcement partners, is committed to tackling violent crime threats in a methodical and effective approach to dismantle the roots of crime and reclaim our communities, for a promising future for our neighborhoods.”

“FBI Memphis, our dedicated special agents, task force officers, intelligence analysts, and professional staff are ready to join our partners in supporting this new initiative to disrupt and dismantle the criminal enterprises that are threatening our communities,” said Special Agent in Charge Douglas DePodesta of the FBI Memphis Field Office. “Together we not only investigate and enforce the law, but we also live in, and are a part of the communities affected by the violent crime that is overwhelmingly the result of violent gangs. It is only together that we will be able to target and bring to prosecution the gang members and others who are driving violence in Memphis and throughout the area.”

“I am excited about the announcement by our U.S. Attorney Kevin Ritz regarding an increased focus on violent crime in the city of Memphis,” said MPD Chief Cerelyn “C.J.” Davis. “This new initiative is a positive step in the right direction, which fosters a since of renewed hope for improved quality of life for our citizens and visitors.”

Joining Acting Assistant Attorney General Argentieri and U.S. Attorney Ritz in the press conference today were ATF Director Dettelbach, MPD Assistant Chief Shawn Jones, and FBI Special Agent in Charge DePodesta.

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