SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — A two-month sweep of illegal weapons has landed nearly two dozen people behind bars. With an uptick in gun violence, Scranton police and other agencies are working make the streets safer in the Electric City.
In total, 25 firearms have been taken off the streets of Scranton in the past two months. On Tuesday, Scranton Police, the Lackawanna County District Attorney’s Office and Pennsylvania State Police announced 23 arrests, including four juveniles.
“Any gun that you have no matter if it is an assault weapon, semi-automatic or just a single shot, any gun that you have in the wrong hands of the wrong person is dangerous,” said Trooper Bob Urban, community services officer with Pennsylvania State Police.
In July, Scranton’s street crimes unit and state police launched “Operation Grabbing Straws” targeting the Crips, Bloods, and Lost Boyz Family after an eight-month increase in gang-related gun violence in the city. The operation focused on “straw purchases” at local gun shops in the county.
“Individuals were coming in purchasing guns with no prior criminal record, but in return immediately providing them to gang members that gang members then will use to promote and facilitate their criminal activities,” said Lackawanna County District Attorney Mark Powell.
Among those arrested, 91 felony and 79 misdemeanor charges have been filed. The most serious of these charges include:
- False firearm ownership
- Criminal conspiracy
- Firearms not to be carried without a license
- Not to posses a firearm and other related felony charges
“We believe this will act as a deterrent to other individuals attempting to make these purchases, we will continue our efforts to reduce guns on the street,” said Powell.
The weapons will be locked in evidence while gang members are locked behind bars.
“It’s great to have because the commonwealth, the city of Scranton, everybody is much safer now having these illegal firearms off the streets that were carried around by violent offenders,” said Urban.
Currently, three additional individuals, including a juvenile, are wanted by the Scranton Police Department in this case. If you know their whereabouts, you are asked to call 9-1-1.