Federal Gun Sweep Hits 154 Targets

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.

Thomas MacMIllan PhotoDeirdre 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.”

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posted by: Noteworthy on June 25, 2014  4:17pm

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the NHPD announces a gun buyback program.

posted by: Elm City Lifer on June 26, 2014  6:28am

I like the ATF method.  Implement good investigative strategy and get illegal guns and criminals off the street and drugs and other stuff. Its better than the esserman,wingate strategy of offer money and basically get legal guns turned in.

Deirdre Daly for police chief!!!!!

Maybe the ATF can turn these guns in to the NHPD and have a party for the agents who did such a good job.

posted by: Noteworthy on June 26, 2014  9:38am

Why can this not be done as a matter of routine with or without federal help? We have a violence problem. We march. We talk. We pay more money for ice beefing, hug a thugs and we pay a lot more money for more cops and unlimited, unregulated overtime that drives up pension costs and payroll costs - none of which is getting the illegal guns off the streets.

posted by: RHeerema on June 26, 2014  3:01pm

This is wonderful news!  Deep thanks to all involved in this effort, especially Chief Esserman to invite this partnership.  Step by step, we WILL bring peace to our community.