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Firearms charges may rise due to new initiative

In an effort to stem the flow of drugs and weapons throughout Pennsylvania, The U.S. Attorney's office is unrolling a new initiative aimed at the state's highways. The effort, known as Project Safe Neighborhoods, is funded by way of a $44,000 Justice Department grant. Four state prosecutors have been deputized as special assistant U.S. attorneys and will work to examine local firearms cases and determine which ones are suitable for federal prosecution.

The initiative is focusing on highways in four counties in western Pennsylvania. It is believed that a large volume of drugs and guns are transported on these highways, eventually making their way into the hands of gang members and dealers throughout the state. In particular, the area in Washington County where Interstates 70 and 79 meet is an area of concern and will be a focal point within the new project.

Those behind this initiative hope that more firearms and drug charges will be deemed appropriate for prosecution at the federal level. Federal crimes tend to receive more severe punitive repercussions than state crimes. Those convicted often spend more time in federal prison and can be housed in facilities far from their area of residence. This means that they will have less access to their partners in crime, which officials believe can help slow the drug and weapons trade in the state.

As the project moves forward, individuals in Pennsylvania who are arrested on firearms or drug charges could find that their cases are escalated to the level of federal prosecution. This is a serious matter, as the ramifications following a conviction can be life-altering. Anyone who becomes the subject of federal charges must take immediate action to protect their rights and seek a favorable outcome.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Federal prosecutor teams up with DAs to stem gun violence", Torsten Ove, March 18, 2015

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