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Georgia police sting nets 49 arrests, hundreds of weapons

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Federal and state officials combine for operation
  • 49 indicted on firearms, drug trafficking and theft charges
  • Almost 400 weapons were recovered, including 257 handguns and 60 rifles
  • Atlanta Police chief on the cross-agency effort: "Crime knows no borders"

Atlanta (CNN) -- A storefront sting in Atlanta led to the indictment of 49 people on drug trafficking, firearms and theft charges, state and federal officials announced Wednesday.

The seven-month undercover effort was led by officers with the Atlanta Police Department and agents in the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives.

The operation adopted the name "ATL Blaze" from the store that posed as a tobacco shop but trafficked weapons and drugs.

Undercover agents posing as store managers and employees were approached by weapons and drug traffickers and convicted felons about buying guns, drugs and stolen property.

Police recovered 257 handguns, 60 rifles, 46 shotguns and 10 sawed-off shotguns.

"This undercover operation was strategically aimed at felons and violent criminals who are flooding our streets with illegal guns," said U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. "This was a proactive, not reactive, approach to law enforcement to get guns out of the hands of criminals."

Atlanta Police Chief George Turner said he was not surprised at the number of weapons collected, but was shocked by the quality of the weapons.

"Crime knows no borders, and recognizes no uniforms or agency insignia; neither should our efforts to combat those who seek to traffic in criminal activity," he said.

Officials estimate the operation cost $400,000. It was unclear how that cost was shared between federal and state officials.

Last year the city of Atlanta collected 1,700 weapons from individuals involved with crime, Turner said.

The case continues to be investigated by special agents with the ATF.