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Guns, drugs seized in Alaska multi-agency investigation

Guns seized in Alaska by federal, state and municipal law enforcement officers are displayed at the office of the U.S. Attorney on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020, in Anchorage, Alaska. U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder announced that 82 illegally possessed guns in Anchorage and surrounding communities were seized in an investigation that resulted in federal charges against 16 people for firearm or drug trafficking counts. (AP Photo/Dan Joling)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Alaska law enforcement officers seized 82 illegally possessed firearms in a co-ordinated effort to reduce gun violence in Anchorage and nearby communities, federal officials announced Wednesday.

About one-third of the seized guns had been stolen, Bryan Schroder, the U.S. attorney for Alaska, said at a news conference.

“We’re committed to driving down violent crime,” Schroder said, standing with representatives of the Anchorage Police Department, Alaska State Troopers, airport police,FBI, federal Drug Enforcement Administration and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

“This group has done that by taking on drug traffickers and particularly drug traffickers who carry firearms,” he said.

Prosecutors filed 10 indictments charging 16 people with firearm or drug trafficking crimes. Not all the suspects were in custody. Thirteen suspects are from Anchorage and three live in Wasilla.

Officer seized about 7 pounds (3.2 kilograms) of methamphetamine and 10.6 ounces (300 grams) of heroin.

Law enforcement officers served search warrants and made arrests Tuesday. The seizures and arrests were part of an investigation over several months that was dubbed “Operation Cold Snap,” Schroder said.

Dozens of the weapons were displayed at a conference table. Schroder said it was a visual reminder of what our law enforcement officers face.

“It’s also meant as a reminder that the danger to these officers is real,” he said.

An Anchorage police officer earlier this month was shot in the upper torso in the line of duty but was protected from serious injury by body armour, Schroder said.

All of the seized firearms at first glance were legal for purchase, said Derek Pleasants, special agent in charge of the ATF Seattle Field Division. They will abe nalyzed to determine if any were illegally modified.

None of the seized weapons have been linked to other crimes, Schroder said.

Some leads in the cases were generated by the bureau’s National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, a national database of digital images of spent bullets and cartridge cases found at crime scenes or test-fired from confiscated weapons. The guns seized Tuesday will be fired and their brass cartridge cases analyzed to determine if there are links to crimes.

“Having the guns in hand now, we can check those guns against other brass that we tested in other places,” Schroder said.

Dan Joling, The Associated Press