FBI agents arrested about 6,000 alleged violent criminals across the United States over the past four months and have seized more than 2,700 firearms and large quantities of fentanyl, the bureau announced Thursday.
“Violent crime is on the minds of a lot of Americans right now and top of mind for police chiefs and sheriffs, who constantly tell me that the rising rate of gun and gang violence is one of their most important and difficult challenges,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a video message about the operation.
The FBI, which has faced increasing criticism about its targeting of former President Donald Trump and his supporters, said that its agents and local law enforcement officials arrested nearly 6,000 alleged violent criminals and gang members. IT also seized more than 2,700 firearms connected to criminal conduct.
Those operations were carried out in California, Texas, Hawaii, Illinois, New Mexico, Washington, Pennsylvania, and Puerto Rico.
“The Los Angeles Metropolitan Task Force on Violent Gangs arrested 28 members and associates of the South Los Angeles-based Eastside Playboys street gang for alleged federal racketeering, firearms, and narcotics charges,” the FBI said in providing an example. “The task force seized approximately 47 firearms, almost 200 kilograms of methamphetamine, 27 kilograms of cocaine, more than 13 kilograms of fentanyl, and more than seven kilograms of heroin.”
The agency also said its gang task force executed 16 federal search warrants targeting prison and street gangs around Albuquerque, New Mexico. They ” seized more than one million fentanyl pills, 142 pounds of methamphetamine, 37 firearms, nine ballistic vests, two hand grenades, and $1.8 million in cash,” the bureau said.
Rise in Crime
It comes as the average murder rate across the United States hit 6.9 murders per 100,000 people in 2021, or the highest figure it’s been in more than 20 years. Drug overdose deaths, at the same time, have spiked to more than 107,000 nationwide in 2021, setting an all-time record, according to federal data.
Some critics, meanwhile, have said that Democrat-sponsored policies targeting bail reform have allowed repeat offenders back on the streets.
New York state changed its bail laws in response to outcry over prisoners accused of minor crimes being held in jail for extended periods while awaiting trial because they couldn’t afford to pay bail. But some law enforcement officials warned that people released back to the streets would commit new crimes.
A record-setting spate of homicides in Albuquerque has ratcheted up pressure on New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, including from some fellow Democrats. The first-term governor has joined efforts to ban pretrial release for certain violent crimes, though some legislators in her own party have balked at rolling back reforms that largely ended money bail.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.