LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Federal and local law enforcement officials say five Louisville residents suspected of being involved in gang activity have been indicted and arrested.
LMPD Chief Steve Conrad, Jefferson County Commonwealth's Attorney Tom Wine and officials from the FBI, ATF and other agencies announced the arrests and indictments Wednesday afternoon.
The 40-count indictment was unsealed Nov. 28, after the arrests of five Louisville residents including: Chicoby Summers, 22; Shelby Strong, 33; Jerlen Horton, 23, Derrick Hammond, 33; and Lakeshia Watts, 23.
All five defendants are convicted felons, and all are in federal custody. They made their first court appearance Tuesday afternoon.
Officials say Hammond, Summers and Horton are known associates of the Victory Park Crips, a violent street gang police say operates mainly in the city's west end.
Watts lived with Horton, officials say, and Strong was an associate of Hammond.
The charges state that, beginning in February of this year, the defendants conspired to obtain guns by using "straw purchasers" -- people with no felony convictions who could lawfully purchase weapons.
Investigators said the guns were then put in the hands of convicted felons. Police said they seized 32 firearms, along with ammunition and explosive materials.
“I’m glad that the guns are off the streets, but we have to look at the big picture,” said Neal Robertson with the West Louisville Urban Coalition.
Robertson added that more needs to be done to address economic inequalities and the root causes of crime.
The indictments are the result of an investigation involving Louisville Metro Intelligence (LM Intel) -- an intelligence-led task force formed in January of this year that identifies serious, violent offenders and works to get them off the streets.
The task force includes the United States Attorney’s Office, federal investigative agencies, state prosecutors and Louisville Metro Police.
"This is only a small piece of the work that has been done by this task force that will continue to be done by this task force," said LMPD Chief Steve Conrad.
"We have long worked closely with the federal partners you see standing with me today. But this is different. This commitment is different and I guarantee you that the people who are under federal indictment today know that full well."
Conrad encouraged anyone with information on any violent crimes in Louisville to call the LMPD crime tipline at 574-LMPD.
All five defendants are charged with conspiracy to possess a firearm by a prohibited person.
Horton, Hammond and Watts are also charged with conspiring to corruptly obstruct, influence, and impede an official proceeding.
Strong is also charged with engaging in the business of dealing in firearms without a license as well as making material false statements to acquire firearms and for illegally possessing firearms as a habitual drug user.
Summers and Horton are charged with illegal possession of multiple firearms by convicted felons; Horton is further charged with receiving and possessing explosive material.
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