After four months of work, local and federal investigators unveiled the fruits of their labor Wednesday: Two tables loaded with revolvers, shotguns, and rifles.
Cops grabbed those guns—73 in all—as part of Operation Samson, a four-month effort spearheaded by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and focused on New Haven and Bridgeport.
The operation targeted illegal guns on the streets of the two cities, chosen for their size and crime rates compared to other towns in Connecticut. All told, authorities have charged or expect to charge 80 people with federal gun, drugs, and robbery charges. An additional 74 have or will be charged with state crimes.
Officials announced those results at Wednesday afternoon press conference at the U.S. Attorney’s office on the 25th floor of the Connecticut Financial Center building on Church Street.
Deirdre Daly (pictured), the state’s U.S. Attorney, said that Operation Samson deployed 40 ATF agents from around the country to work with police in New Haven and Bridgeport starting in March. The agents gathered information and made arrests through “overt and covert operations,” including undercover work, controlled purchases, and execution of search warrants.
Operation Samson uncovered and dismantled two gun trafficking rings. One used out-of-state “straw purchasers” who traded about 100 fraudulently obtained guns for drugs in Connecticut. Another ring used straw-purchasers within Connecticut to deliver about 30 guns into New Haven and Bridgeport.
The operation also seized more than a kilogram of crack, about 750 grams of cocaine powder, more than 200 grams of heroin, more than seven kilograms of marijuana, and about 400 prescription pills.
The seizure of 73 guns has a big impact, said Daly. Often a gang shares just a single weapon that is used over and over for many crimes, she said.
All of the seized guns were tested with the help of the State Crime Laboratory and the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN). Investigators found links with 104 crimes involving guns in Bridgeport and New Haven.
Daniel Kumor (pictured), the ATF’s agent-in-charge for New England, said Operation Samson is not over. He offered a message for anyone still using illegal guns to perpetrate violence in New Haven and Bridgeport: ” Make no mistake: You’re next.”
“No child of New Haven should have to grow up with illegal gun violence around them,” said New Haven police Chief Dean Esserman. “This is an important day for New Haven and we are grateful.”