Tuesday, February 28, 2012

"Operation Smoke Screen" in Augusta

AUGUSTA, GA - 15 federal indictments, unsealed 2-28-2012 in federal court, have charged 24 defendants with federal firearms offenses. An additional 85 defendants were charged by the Augusta Division’s District Attorney’s Office on state burglary, theft, firearm and drug charges. The federal and state indictments follow a 7-month undercover investigation in the Augusta area dubbed “Operation Smoke Screen.”

The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office (RCSO), and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) initiated Operation Smoke Screen in August of 2011.  As a result of this undercover operation, RCSO seized an estimated $500,000 in property and identified suspects in 104 burglaries, 12 car break-ins and 16 thefts.  While guns were not the focus of the investigation, 64 firearms were recovered; many from convicted felons or individuals dealing in firearms without a license.  A number of the guns seized during the undercover operation were reported stolen.

An indictment is only an accusation and is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the Government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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