Rapid and Strategic Prosecution (RASP) Initiative Uses Data-Driven Analysis to Identify Individuals and Organizations Responsible for Violent Crime
RASP’s Expansion Is Part of Department of Justice’s Project Guardian Initiative to Maximize Impact of Gun Crime Prosecution Strategy
Seth D. DuCharme, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York (EDNY), announced today strategies that are being implemented, in coordination with federal and local law enforcement partners, to address the significant spike in gun-related violence in the district. The strategies represent an expansion of the Office’s Rapid and Strategic Prosecution (RASP) Initiative to ensure rapid intake of federal prosecutions in response to gun violence. In September 2020, RASP was expanded to more effectively use crime data to identify, investigate, disrupt and prosecute violent armed criminals and organizations.
“In the middle of a global pandemic, we have also seen a local epidemic of shootings in our city, and we are responding with responsible, data-driven measures to protect our communities from armed repeat offenders and violent gang members to prevent neighborhoods and public housing from being turned into battle zones,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney DuCharme. “Our message is clear: violent criminal offenders will be arrested, detained and incapacitated in the court system.” Mr. DuCharme thanked the District Attorneys of Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island for their cooperation and coordination, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office; New York City Police Department; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, New York Field Office; United States Marshal Service, EDNY; and Homeland Security Investigations for their partnership.
In October 2019, the EDNY instituted the RASP Initiative. RASP was developed to ensure a rapid federal response by the USAO-EDNY and its federal law enforcement partners to spikes in gun violence in specific areas of responsibility such as precincts, neighborhoods and housing developments. The RASP program was created in response to upticks in violent crime in various areas within the district. The goal of the expanded initiative is to support local law enforcement by rapidly deploying federal resources in order to protect communities from violent crime. The intake considerations include the individual’s prior criminal history; position, if any, in a criminal organization; any threats of witness tampering; the risk of recidivism; the likelihood of detention if charged in the state; current status, if applicable, in federal supervised release or state parole.
Since October 2019, 18 individuals have been charged with various firearms offenses as part of the RASP Initiative under the shared umbrella of the Triggerlock and Project Safe Neighborhood programs – long-standing and successful programs through which federal, state and local law enforcement agencies collaboratively address gun violence. The majority of the defendants have been detained pending trial, some of whom were found to be a danger to the community.
These arrests are in addition to the Office’s pre-existing anti-violence efforts by the General Crimes, Organized Crimes & Gangs, International Narcotics & Money Laundering, National Security & Cybercrime Sections, and the Long Island Criminal Division. For example, in February 2020, 12 members and associates of the 5-9 Brims set of the Bloods street gang were arrested and charged with multiple offenses, including racketeering conspiracy, narcotics trafficking and murder. In May 2020, 10 members and associates of La Mara Salvatrucha (“MS-13”) were arrested and charged variously with racketeering, murder, narcotics and firearms offenses. In June 2020, seven members and associates of the Elite Assassin Millas set of the Bloods street gang were arrested and charged variously with racketeering conspiracy, murder, stalking and firearms offenses. Between June and September 2020, 14 members and associates of the Bully Gang were arrested and charged variously with narcotics and firearms possession. In addition, since August 7, 2020, the Organized Crime & Gangs and General Crimes Sections have charged approximately 33 defendants with illegal firearms possession, of which 31 have been ordered detained pending trial.
In September 2020, the EDNY expanded RASP to identify individuals and groups responsible for spikes in gun violence and conduct investigations into a host of federal crimes, including Hobbs Act robbery, domestic violence with a firearm, narcotics trafficking, violent crime in aid-of-racketeering and fraud. RASP is utilizing the following strategies:
- Using data and analytics to identify trends and the drivers of gun violence.
- Aggressively using federal firearms statutes and other statutes like Hobbs Act robbery to address gun violence in the district.
- Assembling a team of more than a dozen experienced Assistant U.S. Attorneys to lead the prosecutions.
- Using three NYPD detectives to assist EDNY federal prosecutors in the investigations of fatal and non-fatal shootings.
- Partnering with two Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys designated by the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office to facilitate the presentation of firearms and violence cases for prosecution in federal court.
RASP’s expansion is part of the Department of Justice’s Project Guardian initiative focusing on coordinated prosecutions to maximize the impact of federal resources and maintain a robust and effective gun crime prosecution strategy, utilizing crime data to guide the focus. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs, including Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities.