355 arrested in KC, about 69 guns seized in crime initiative
A 10-week, crime-fighting initiative targeting gang, drug and gun activity in Kansas City has netted the arrest of 355 people and the seizure of nearly 70 firearms, federal authorities announced Tuesday.
The effort, dubbed Operation Triple Beam, was led by the U.S. Marshals Service and involved local, county, state and law enforcement agencies through the Midwest Violent Task Force. The operation ran from late May to mid-August.
During a news conference Tuesday that included Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, officials said more than 115 of the arrests were for drug offenses, 71 for weapons and 25 for burglary. Eight people were arrested in connection to homicides, including two teenagers, ages 14 and 15.
“We have had a serious problem with violent crime in Kansas City, St. Louis and Springfield and we must address the issue,” Parson said. “Operation Triple Beam is a great start and a step in the right direction to address violent crime in Kansas City.”
Law enforcement also seized more than 2,000 rounds of ammunition and 4.4 kilograms of illegal drugs, including methamphetamine, heroine, cocaine and marijuana. Many of those arrested face new charges for drugs and firearms possession in state and federal court, according to officials.
U.S. Marshal Mark James said the goal of the operation was to bring a high-intensity, full-court press on the violent criminals who were victimizing communities in the area.
James thanked the officers, deputies and agents who worked to “go after and bring these predators to justice,” adding they would not rest as violent criminals continue to harm the community.
“The violence terrorizing our communities and neighborhoods must stop,” James said.
The initiative falls under the U.S. Marshals’ nationwide crime reduction program called Operation Triple Beam. Last year, about 200 people were arrested during an operation in Kansas City, Kansas.
Those arrested included suspected drug dealers, gang members, those wanted for sex crimes and other offenses. The national effort included fugitives who were arrested in Mexico, James said.
And earlier this summer, federal and local police said a 60-day initiative in Kansas City, Kansas, resulted in the arrest of 219 people and cleared 583 warrants.
In July, police in Kansas City, Missouri, reported 52 nonfatal shootings, compared with 36 nonfatal shootings last year. So far in 2019, there have been 299 nonfatal shootings.
Parson, along with Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas and U.S. Attorney Tim Garrison, have expressed concern about the continued rise in gun violence.
“There’s nobody that wears a uniform or has worn a uniform and a badge and profess to be in law enforcement . . . who would want to see our children being shot in the streets no matter where you’re from,” Parson said. “That’s not who we are in this state, and we have to address that issue. We as parents, or grandparents for some of us, it is about protecting our kids. It is about protecting our communities.”
Garrison noted Missouri for most of a decade has ranked No. 1 in the nation for its rate of black homicide victims. He also mentioned the Aug. 10 death of 8-year-old Brian Bartlett, who was killed in a drive-by shooting while sleeping in his home in the 8300 block of Tracy Avenue.
“We could tell other stories that are equally as heart-breaking,” he said. “This is outrageous.”
Garrison said his has increased the number of prosecutors in his office and has made combating violent crime a top priority. He also has partnered with Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt to address gun violence through the Safer Streets Initiative.
The city’s most recent homicide came Monday when responding police officers found a woman with life-threatening injuries in the 5200 block of Sycamore Avenue. Her killing was the city’s 92nd homicide this year compared with 93 by this time last year, according to data kept by The Star. That list includes fatal police shootings.