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U.S. Justice Department launches new effort to crack down on firearms trafficking

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AR-15 style rifles are displayed for sale at Firearms Unknown, a gun store in Oceanside, California, U.S., April 12, 2021. REUTERS/Bing Guan/File Photo

WASHINGTON, June 22 (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department is launching a new strike force aimed at cracking down on illegal firearms trafficking, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said on Tuesday.

The strike force will be focused on reducing violent crime by targeting activity in "significant gun trafficking corridors" including New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., Monaco said during an event sponsored by the Police Executive Research Forum.

The announcement came as President Joe Biden prepared to deliver a speech on crime on Wednesday. White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said he would "lay out a comprehensive strategy to address violent crime and gun violence as we enter the summer months."

Monaco said U.S. Attorney's offices in the targeted areas will coordinate with federal, state and local law enforcement to focus on "where the guns are originating, where they're used in violent crime... and going after the entire network."

As of June 22, the United States has seen 297 mass shootings, according to data compiled by the Gun Violence Archive, and local police departments in some major cities across the country have reported spikes in homicides.

Later this week, the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on whether to support the confirmation of David Chipman, Biden's pick to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

The department plans to make additional announcements on Wednesday about how it intends to tackle violent crime, Monaco said.

Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch Editing by Chris Reese
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