The U.S. Justice Department announced its presence on the Alabama violent-crime-fighting scene this week with a report on a two-month operation in North Alabama that resulted in charges against 71 defendants and 140 guns seized.
U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town, ATF Special Agent in Charge Marcus Watson and Acting Birmingham Police Chief Henry Irby III announced the operation.
Town has said the U.S. Justice Department and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a former U.S. senator from Alabama, had made priorities clear: “It’s guns, it’s dope, it’s illegal immigration, it’s opioids,” he said in an earlier interview.
All of those indicted in this operation – a majority of whom have at least one prior felony conviction, according to a press release about the operation – face new firearm charges. Two of those indicted are identified as illegal aliens. One person indicted is a teenager and the oldest person indicted is 61.
Sessions, quoted in the press release, said Town and his partners in North Alabama are doing what he asks: Working under the Project Safe Neighborhoods program, they are targeting the most violent criminals in the most high-crime areas and working with the community to develop a customized crime-reduction plan.
Birmingham’s acting police chief in comments in the press release focused on a goal “to help improve the quality of life for our citizens … to ensure they are safe and secure as they go about their daily lives.”
Town gave a nod to a flamboyant era of federal crime-fighting.
“The Department of Justice has reserved space in federal prison for gang members, trigger-pullers, violent offenders and felons with guns … and we plan on filling it. We must shift our prosecutorial philosophy more towards Capone rather than Soprano, not conflating the level of crime with the level of criminal,” he is quoted in the press release.
Town, U.S. Attorney Richard Moore of Alabama’s Southern District based in Mobile, and U.S. Attorney Louis Franklin of Alabama’s Middle District in Montgomery, all newly appointed by President Donald Trump, earlier discussed their goals for federal law enforcement in the state. Here’s what they had to say.