BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is reporting a major takedown after six individuals were indicted on charges of stealing dozens of firearms in northwest Baltimore.
It’s a heist investigators say has helped fuel violence throughout Baltimore streets, as at least 60 guns were reported stolen.
High powered weapons – ranging from sniper rifles to shotguns – that were used to commit both carjackings and armed robberies.
“Those firearms are destined to be used in violent crime, period,” said AFT Baltimore Special Agent In Charge Daniel Board.
It’s all part of a yearlong investigation for the ATF and Maryland Attorney General’s Office that dates back to August 2015.
Investigators say that’s when the group – most of whom were juveniles when the alleged crimes occurred – broke into a unit full of firearms and ammo at Simply Self Storage in northwest Baltimore.
“Stolen from an individual’s private collection,” said Board. “That individual was previously a federal firearms licensee.”
The indictment alleges they stole 23 semi-automatic handguns and 18 semi-automatic rifles.
Among others with high capacity magazines, including shotguns, sniper rifles, and AR-15s.
They then allegedly sold, traded, and even rented the guns out to others, but authorities say they held onto most to commit violent crimes.
The indictment alleges the group committed several carjackings throughout the city, including a handful along Liberty Heights Ave., forcing their way into high end cars, like a Mercedes, Lincoln town car, and BMW.
“You’re talking 60 firearms, the amount and levels of violent crime that are going to be involved in those are significant,” said Board.
The ATF says stolen firearm cases have now turned into one of their top two priorities, as they say heists like this mean more blood shed on Baltimore streets.
“In ATF, we will dedicate every extent of my resources here to make sure we find you and arrest you,” Board said.
Investigators say most of those charged in the indictments have a criminal history of assault, armed robbery, and carjacking.
The ATF says that out of the 60 guns stolen, less than a dozen have been recovered.
Both the Maryland Attorney General’s Office and the Baltimore City Police Department assisted with the investigation.