Authorities have arrested and charged five people with buying firearms to fuel a gang in Louisville.
Those suspects, alleged members or associates of the Victory Party Crips gang, used a third party without felony convictions to legally purchase 41 guns, officials say. Police recovered 10 weapons when the suspects were arrested; they say the remaining weapons have been identified but not yet recovered.
Weapons purchased for the Victory Party Crips gang are often used for narcotics trafficking, intimidating other gangs and earning reputation, according to police.
Louisville Police Chief Steve Conrad said the arrests could have “a chilling effect” on gang activity which continues to trouble the city.
“It’s a continuing problem. It is not the sole problem of crime in our community, but it is a challenge,” Conrad said. “Every day it seems like we’re coming up with some new gang name.”
U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman declined to answer how many gangs are in Kentucky. Conrad said many of the local gangs develop as members’ affiliation shifts within them.
The investigation started in April on an unrelated indictment, which led police to recover a weapon. Tracing that weapon back, police found a third party purchased all but four guns within normal procedures from River City Firearms, a gun shop in Louisville.
Police traced dozens of guns in this particular investigation but the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has traced hundreds of thousands of guns in other crimes.
ATF special agent Stuart Lowrey, said around 290,000 guns were traced last year across the country. In Kentucky, Lowrey said 4,355 guns were traced in 2016 – more than half of those were pistols.
The investigation is ongoing. Each defendant is charged with conspiracy to obtain firearms. Coleman said hopes for more arrests going forward.