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ATF adding 7 agents in Chicago to help fight gun violence

Three people were shot near 80th MuskegSaturday July 6 2014. | Alex Wroblewski / Sun-Times

Three people were shot near 80th and Muskegon on Saturday, July 6, 2014. | Alex Wroblewski / Sun-Times

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Updated: August 18, 2014 10:12AM

Seven additional ATF agents are being assigned to Chicago to help reduce violence.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder made the decision recently after meeting with Mayor Rahm Emanuel; B. Todd Jones, director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and Zachary Fardon, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.

“They wanted to bring more resources to Chicago to combat some of the gun violence that’s taking place here,” said ATF spokesman Tom Ahern, who added that the additional agents would boost the total number in Chicago to 52.

“Initially we’ll have four starting out here on the 21st of the month, then we have more coming down the road,” Ahern said.

He noted that the arrival of seven agents has been confirmed, but the number could rise to 10.

“We welcome the new agents. We can always use more manpower,” Ahern said. “The ATF’s primary focus is firearms trafficking and stemming the flow of illegal guns into Chicago.”

Holder will announce the move on Thursday, two weeks after a bloody Fourth of July weekend in which 13 people were killed and 58 were wounded in Chicago.

In a statement, Holder said: “The Department of Justice will continue to do everything in its power to help the city of Chicago combat gun violence. These new agents are a sign of the federal government’s ongoing commitment to helping local leaders ensure Chicago’s streets are safe.”

The ATF is not the only federal agency battling gun violence in Chicago. The FBI, which has over 100 agents in Chicago assigned to curb gang and violent crimes, temporarily assigned an additional 20 agents to supplement crime reduction efforts, according to a news release from Holder’s office.

Twitter: @mitchdudek

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