NEWS RELEASE
Office of Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr.


February 26, 2001 Media Inquiries: Sean Caine 410-576-6357

CURRAN ANNOUNCES OPERATION CRIME GUN

Baltimore - Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today the hiring of a special gun prosecutor, as part of his illegal firearms trafficking initiative, "Operation Crime Gun." Funding for the position comes from a $93,000 grant Curran’s Criminal Investigations Division received recently from the Governor’s Office on Crime Control and Prevention.

After a statewide search for an experience prosecutor with expertise in gun cases, Curran hired Brian DeLeonardo, 30, to lead his Operation Crime Gun. DeLeonardo presently is an Assistant State’s Attorney in Carroll County, and brings with him a wealth of investigative and trial experience. DeLeonardo will be specially assigned to work with the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office Firearms Investigation/Violence Enforcement ("FIVE") Unit in developing and prosecuting cases against illegal arms traffickers both in Baltimore City and throughout the state. The FIVE Unit was first set up by State’s Attorney Patricia Jessamy several years ago to specifically address the rising tide of gun violence in Baltimore. The addition of an Assistant Attorney General will give this unit the ability to handle cases beyond city limits, as Assistant Attorneys General have statewide jurisdiction.

Operation Crime Gun will target those individuals and firearms dealers who illegally distribute firearms or who are the source of guns later determined to have been used in the commission of violent crimes. The initiative involves a partnership with the Maryland State Police’s Firearms Enforcement Division, which will be one of the major sources of referrals of cases to investigate and prosecute. The special gun prosecutor will also be coordinating intelligence and investigative efforts with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and the Baltimore City Police Department.

In anticipation of the grant, Curran’s Criminal Investigations Division has already begun to prosecute cases against individuals who illegally attempt to purchase a handgun even though they are ineligible to do so, either because they are the subject of a protective order or because they have previous gun or crimes of violence convictions on their record. The Division has also targeted those individuals who, although ineligible themselves to purchase a handgun, use someone else to buy the gun for them–in what’s referred to as a "straw purchase." Operation Crime Gun will also target other violations of Maryland’s Gun Violence Act of 1996, such as illegal secondary sales and sales of ammunition to juveniles.

"Operation Crime Gun will be an additional tool to ensure that guns do not end up in the hands of the wrong people," Attorney General Curran said. "This initiative will enable the State’s Attorneys and the Maryland State Police to access the resources of the Office of the Attorney General in their enforcement efforts."

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