DETROIT – Last year officials saw gun sales surge to a record high.
But it’s the illegal gun sales in Metro Detroit that are grabbing the attention of ATF agents. Keith Krolczyk is an assistant special agent in charge of ATF Detroit.
“There is no shortage of gun violence in Detroit,” Krolczyk said.
Agents have been making arrests throughout Metro Detroit using a combination of insiders, online chatter and social media.
According to the ATF, there were 189 firearms-related crimes charged in the Eastern District of Michigan last year.
One example of what’s been going on, involves a case out of the Southgate and New Boston communities. Antonio Edwards is a convicted felon who was on probation when agents said he was looking to purchase a gun illegally.
“It’s our job at ATF to reduce violent crime to protect the public. And that is by going after these people that possess firearms illegally,” Krolczyk said.
Edwards first got the attention of agents when, according to court documents, he started texting with James Clark from Southgate. Clark lived in the 15000 block of Cameron Street.
Court documents revealed that Clark’s girlfriend would use a Facebook account to post images and short videos to her account showing the different guns for sale.
According to court records, Edwards showed interest in purchasing a weapon stating, “I would like to get that brown AR if it’s for sale.” The weapon cost $850.
“No one ever accused criminals of being the smartest people in the world. Social media is out there for everyone to see. It’s public information,” Krolczyk said.
ATF agents searched Edward’s home in New Boston. They recovered a Smith & Wesson M&P15, according to court documents. Edwards admitted to agents that he was currently on probation for larceny.
Edwards was arrested as part of a program called Operation Relentless Pursuit. A court conference on the case is scheduled for this month.
“That is our main goal, to get those illegal firearms and those people who are prohibited from possessing firearms. Get those guns out of their hands and get them off the street. And that is going to make our community safer,” Krolczyk said.
According to stats from the ATF office, shootings were up in Detroit 53 percent at one point last year. Firearms crimes in the city were up 26 percent from the year before and 21 were charged with firearms crimes.