Jefferson County Sees Startling Jump In Gun Seizures

Jefferson County Sees Startling Jump In Gun Seizures

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Law enforcement officials say they've seen a sharp increase lately in violent crime and drug dealers are arming themselves more.

The Metro-Jeff Drug Task Force seized 29 guns last year. They include both long guns and handguns.

When you look at 2016, the task force only seized five. It was the same in 2015.

"It's a huge, very worrying jump in the number of firearms that they seized," said Watertown Police Chief Charles Donoghue.

More than 15 of those guns were taken from one case that's still being investigated.

Jefferson County Sheriff Colleen O'Neill says it shows how weapons now seem more common in drug cases.

"It is disturbing to think that drug dealers are arming themselves to a higher degree," she said.

Donoghue says he has seen a recent increase in violent crime connected to drug dealing.

"Drugs do bring violent crime and even petty crime, because people who need drugs and can't do without them will do anything to get them. They'll beg, borrow, and steal," he said.

O'Neill says this is telling of just why the Metro-Jeff Drug Task Force, which is led by the district attorney's office, is needed.

"The task force is doing a great job at locating these dealers and securing their weapons. If we can limit the amount of guns criminals have, everybody's safer," she said.

Donoghue told city council that he wants to add one more detective to the Metro-Jeff Drug Task Force, which would give the force eight members.

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