August 2 2021
BUFFALO, N.Y.- U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr., announced today the cumulative results of the Federal Violence Prevention and Elimination Response (VIPER) Task Force, a 60-day surge aimed at removing violent gun offenders from the streets of Rochester and Buffalo to enhance public safety and reduce violent crime. For the slightly over three-week period between July 7 and July 30, 2021, the following results were achieved in Rochester, Buffalo, and Niagara Falls through VIPER:
Firearm Related Arrests – 125
Narcotics Related Arrests – 217
Violent Felony Arrests – 142
Firearms Seized – 68
Firearm Related Arrests – 69
Narcotics Related Arrests – 41
Violent Felony Arrests – 86
Firearms Seized – 51
Firearm Related Arrests – 56
Narcotics Related Arrests – 176
Violent Felony Arrests – 56
Firearms Seized – 17
To date, 18 defendants have been adopted for federal prosecution, and 52 other defendant’s arrests are currently being reviewed to determine whether federal prosecution is appropriate.
“These latest numbers suggest that the all hands-on-deck, collaborative approach promoted by the VIPER Task Force is yielding positive results,” stated U.S. Attorney Kennedy. “Violent offenders, drug traffickers, and those with illegal guns are—or, at least, should be—starting to realize that they are the focus not only of the attention of every law enforcer in our community—but the attention of a growing number of community members themselves. Hopefully, that realization will cause those considering whether illegally to possess or use a gun to think twice and help them to recognize that they will only find lasting respect and protection once they choose to put the gun down.”
The VIPER Task Force involves enhanced information sharing, enhanced proactive investigations and prosecutions, and the improvement relations between the community and law enforcement.
Members of the VIPER Task Force include the United States Attorney’s Office, under the direction U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr.; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge John B. Devito, New York Field Division; the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Stephen Belongia; the United States Marshals Service, under the direction of Marshal Charles Salina; Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Kevin Kelly; Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Enforcement and Removal Operations, under the direction of Acting Field Office Director Robert F. Judge; and the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Ray Donovan, New York Field Division. VIPER Task Force members in Rochester also include: the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office, under the direction of District Attorney Sandra Doorley; the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff Todd Baxter; and the Rochester Police Department, under the direction of Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan. VIPER Task Force members in Buffalo also include: the Erie County District Attorney’s Office, under the direction of District Attorney John Flynn; the Erie County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff Timothy Howard; and the Buffalo Police Department, under the direction of Chief Byron Lockwood.