SAN FRANCISCO — A two-year operation spearheaded by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to take illegal guns and drugs off the streets of San Francisco and Peninsula cities culminated this week in the arrest of more than 75 individuals, the largest such bust in the federal agency’s history, authorities said Thursday.
Earlier this week, 1,000-plus law enforcement agents fanned out across San Francisco and San Mateo counties to serve warrants and conduct probation searches as part of Operation Cold Day. The effort netted more than 90 guns, 100 ounces of drugs including cocaine and heroin, and 48 stolen vehicles, said ATF Special Agent in Charge Jill Snyder.
“One firearm in the hands of a gang member or a prohibited person is one firearm too many. It only takes one round from one gun to end a life,” Snyder said at a news conference at the San Francisco Police Department. “We targeted those who created a pipeline to stream firearms into the community and then placed them into the hands of violent criminals.”
U.S. Attorney Brian Stretch said more than 100 individuals have been charged in state and federal courts as a result of the operation. At least 42 of them are facing federal gun and drug trafficking charges.
“The objective of Operation Cold Day was very simply to get guns and drugs off the streets of our communities,” Stretch said.
“This operation,” Snyder added, “resulted in the largest number of arrests in ATF history.”
The operation stemmed from a rash of Zip Car thefts in San Francisco and initially involved the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office and the California Highway Patrol. It was later expanded to include the ATF, the Daly City and Redwood City police departments, the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office and the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office.
“Our communities are a little safer today because of all these guns that were removed from the street, the vehicles that were recovered and returned to their owners, and the narcotics that were confiscated,” said San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón.
Authorities said the success of the operation hinged on the agencies working together collaboratively.
“The Bay Area is not the same as it was in 1977 when I started as a prosecutor,” said San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.
“This is a different world,” he continued. “And that’s why today it would be foolhardy for us not to do what has been done here, and that is to work together, to collaborate, to get criminals off the street, and to get guns and drugs off of our streets, as they plague our communities.”
Wagstaffe said his office has filed 45 felony cases against 48 individuals, with charges ranging from possession of stolen property to illegal possession of firearms. But he expects the impact of the operation to extend to others who might be considering a similar life of crime.
“I am one who continues to believe there is a deterrent effect to every single thing that we do,” he said.
“There’s a message out there that you may commit crimes in our communities, but you will be held accountable,” he said, “and law enforcement is willing to work together regardless of jurisdictions.”
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