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Raid By Feds, V.I. Police Nets Assault Rifle

March 27, 2009 — No arrests were made during a Friday morning bust at Kirwan Terrace Housing Community, but federal agents said they were able to take something just as important out of the area: a fully loaded AK-47 assault rifle.
Around 11 a.m. Friday, agents from the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) task force responded to an anonymous tip about a group of armed drug traffickers in the housing community. Several suspected gang members were fleeing the area on foot when agents arrived at the scene. The agents didn't follow but canvassed the area, coming across the AK-47 hidden in a trash bin, according to James Doby, Drug Enforcement Administration agent in charge.
The weapon was found less than 50 feet from spot where 16-year-old Khalif Leader was killed during an early-morning shooting on March 11. The Police Department's forensics unit will run a ballistics exam, but it's going to take a couple of weeks to determine if the gun has been in other crimes, Doby said Friday.
Agents were also surprised to find an abandoned gun safe in the area, which also contained a mask that agents believe has been used in several assaults in the community.
"It's a stand-up gun safe — almost regular size, used to store weapons overnight," Doby added. "It's not often that you seen something like that just sitting out in public."
Tenants were interviewed, but no one could say where the safe came from, according to an HIDTA news release.
Doby said later he hopes removing the weapon would have a positive impact on the community.
"We took out a dangerous weapon that could commit a homicide in the future," he said, adding that the safety of the community really hinges on its residents and the tips they continue to provide. Tips into HIDTA come in at an "inconsistent" rate, dictated by high or low crime levels, Doby explained.
About 12 federal agents from the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U.S. Immigration and Customs Service and the U.S. Marshals Service teamed up with a half-dozen V.I. officers in the raid.
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