As a wave of gun violence incidents sweep through Miami-Dade County, you can expect local law enforcement agencies to seek help from their federal counterparts.
The FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, known as ATF, can provide essential expertise, and federal prosecutors can use laws beyond the reach of state prosecutors.
The ATF is already assisting Miami-Dade Police with their investigation into the social room shooting incident in which 21 people were shot and three died.
“The federal government has a long history of helping local and state governments fight this type of activity,” said David Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor who now works for Jones Walker.
“That doesn’t mean state and local authorities can’t tackle this type of activity, but it often takes the influence and importance of the federal government to get the message across.”
Today, by way of example, Weinstein’s former colleagues at the United States Attorney’s Office in Miami announced the indictment of a man in a South Florida gang investigation, claiming he had an arsenal of firearms and ammunition in his apartment, including illegal machine guns. Weinstein says there are major advantages to indicting him in the federal system.
“By using the federal government and the resources of the federal government, you can move these cases through the system faster, often the sentence associated with these cases is heavier than the sentence that would be received by a state court,” he said. Weinstein said.
ATF also has a sophisticated database system called the National Integrates Ballistic Information Network, called NIBIN, which can link different crime scenes. It is a valuable tool for local law enforcement agencies dealing with gang violence.
“The beauty of NIBIN is that you get evidence from a lot of different crime scenes, so the connection that NIBIN makes allows us to take the cases, maybe a palm print, maybe DNA, and connect them to that gun evidence and tie it all together, ”the colonel explained. Timothy Scanlon of the Jefferson Parrish Sheriff’s Office near New Orleans.
He was speaking in a video produced by ATF, describing how NIBIN helped his agency resolve a mass shooting incident.
One of the other tools that federal prosecutors can use is the federal RICO racketeering law, which can help them make connections between different crimes. This is how they brought down the gangs in Liberty City and Overtown years ago, and they can start over now.