I-Team Report: Chicago guns coming from Mississippi

April 26, 2012 4:28:20 PM PDT
For decades police have grappled with an illegal gun pipeline between Mississippi and Chicago and a new procedure which has been used in Mississippi that could flood an already gun-saturated Chicago with even more firepower.

It's 600 miles between Chicago and Clarksdale, Miss., but for years the distance hasn't prevented a northbound gun pipeline from operating between the two cities. Usually, the guns are secured in Mississippi by gang bosses using fake purchasers known as Strawmen.

This week though, the conspiracy was far-less sophisticated, but it was no less successful

In full view of surveillance cameras this week, about ten thieves-most appeared to be teenagers broke into a hunting store in Clarksdale and walked out with a small arsenal of long guns.

"All long guns ranging from .270's, .22's, even a bb gun or two," said store owner Hartley Kittle.

While it appears a spur of the moment looting, a few days earlier investigators say somebody had thrown a brick through the store window that was then boarded up.

Monday night, the thieves pried away the plywood and helped themselves to some firepower.

"They removed the plywood from the building at 9:58 on evening, about 10 fellows, and they continued to take firearms out of the store till 1:42 in the morning," Kittle said.

That means the gun thieves were in and out of this store for more than three and a half hours, coming and going under the streetlights in full view of the town's main street and passing traffic.

Not once did anyone stop or call police, nor did any officers drive by.

"I'm obviously concerned about the loss of the firearms and the guns being on the street, but I'm equally concerned about the lack of parental involvement," Kittle said. "Why don't the parents know where these kids are at 10 o'clock at night or 1 o'clock in the morning?"

There is reason to believe those guns would have ended up in the Chicago pipeline. Clarksdale has been cultivated by Chicago street gang leaders for so-called straw purchases of guns the past decade they have been used in crimes here and in seizures over the years police have traced hundreds back to Mississippi.

In February 2007, federal prosecutors in Chicago charged 18 people in a gun conspiracy with most of the weapons coming from Clarksdale.