Kentucky Advocates On The Fight Against Human Trafficking Sunday, Dec 10 2017 

Nearly 1,700 calls, emails, and other correspondence about trafficking in Kentucky have been made to the National Human Trafficking Hotline since 2007Kentucky received a grade of B this year on its human trafficking laws from Shared Hope International, an organization that focuses on sex trafficking.

Social workers, local politicians, law enforcement and other Kentuckians met this week for a day-long conference that focused on human trafficking. Angela Renfro attended the conference. She’s the founder of the Kristy Love Foundation, which serves women, including survivors of trafficking. She’s also a survivor.

“We take it to the street,” she said. “We call it the underground world of trafficking while you’re sleeping at night. Between 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m., when everybody sleeping at night, that’s when the little girls walk the street.”

Renfro said her organization has helped more than 700 people in Kentucky.

Thirty-three human trafficking cases in Kentucky were reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline this year. Many survivors of human trafficking are reminded of their ordeal by tattoos forced upon them by their captors. 

Allyson Cox Taylor, director of Kentucky’s Office of Child Abuse and Human Trafficking Prevention and Prosecution, said her office is working with tattoo parlors to help survivors cover up the marks.

“If you think about the impact that having someone else’s ownership built into your skin, whether that’s through a tattoo or a brand, every time you look into the mirror you’re always reminded of the subjugated position you’ve been put in,” she said. “So even long after they’ve escaped the life, it’s a reminder, a daily reminder of the person who victimized them.”

In November, Attorney General Andy Beshear launched a campaign that aims to get hotel workers to participate in training to help them recognize trafficking and report it.

In 2016, the Office of Child Abuse and Human Trafficking Prevention and Prosecution received a $1.5 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to address trafficking. The grant is shared with Catholic Charities of Louisville and would be distributed over three years.    

Jeanne Smoot is Senior Counsel for Policy & Strategy at the Tahirih Justice Center, a national advocacy group that serves immigrant women and girls affected by violence. She said there is a possible link between trafficking and child marriage.

“America has a significant child marriage problem,” she said. “I think many people are surprised actually to learn that it’s not already age 18, no exceptions, as the minimal legal marriage age all around the country.”

Twenty-seven states have no minimum age requirements, according to the Tahirih Justice Center.

“The laws are not set out for child protection,” said Smoot. “They don’t consider the potential for abuse and exploitation that we see in our work every day can lurk behind an underaged marriage license.”

The International Labour Organization says globally, there are nearly 21 million victims of human trafficking; 55 percent of those affected are women and girls.

‘Our politicians need to know that our girls and women are being bought and sold,” said Angelo Renfro with the Kristy Love Foundation. “And [that it’s] not just something we read or see in the movies.”

Writer Debbie Weingarten On Suicide And America’s Farmers Saturday, Dec 9 2017 

Earlier this week, farmer-turned-journalist Debbie Weingarten published an article in The Guardian, in collaboration with the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, that poses the question: “Why are America’s farmers killing themselves in record numbers?

Updated numbers from the Centers for Disease Control now indicate that the suicide rate for farmers is more than double that of veterans. Weingarten traveled the country to interview farmers, survivors and mental health professionals to understand why and how to help.

I spoke with Weingarten about the piece and what people living in urban centers in rural states, like Louisville, can learn from the article.

How long have you been working on this piece?

“I have been working on this piece for nearly five years. It started accidentally. I had been farming up until 2014 and I started writing about farming and the challenges that small farmers were facing as a way to explore the challenges that I was facing as a farmer. I ended up going down this research rabbit-hole about farmer suicide and farmer behavioral health issues, and lack of access to behavioral health resources. Primarily, because I was struggling and I was having a really hard time finding resources that were culturally relevant to me as a farmer. I ended up quitting, leaving my farm, and I couldn’t put down the topic.”

When I read this story, I was a little shocked by the numbers regarding the rate of farmer suicide. Was that something that surprised you as you dug deeper and deeper into this piece?

“It did surprise me. I think that as I talked to people, I get a couple of different reactions. One is complete shock that our farmers have such a high suicide rate. The other response, primarily from farmers, is “Of course.’ Everybody knows somebody or multiple people who have taken their own lives. Everybody knows somebody who was killed in a ‘farm accident’ that people actually suspect wasn’t an accident.

“These stories are all across rural America, America’s farmscape; bringing numbers to it really brings urgency to it.”

What are some of the things that farmers are facing that contribute to these numbers?

“The potential for financial loss is huge. An increase in farm suicides is kind of in correlation with the economy. I write in the article that in 2013, the net farm income for U.S. farmers has declined 50 percent. The median farm income for 2017 is projected to be -$1,325. The huge financial stress and crisis in rural America and for farmers is a huge contributing factor…

“There are other factors including social isolation, geographical isolation; there is a lack of mental health services in rural communities. There is also a cultural component, I think, that I heard over and over again — farmers are proud. They are not generally asking for help, so that cultural barrier is a challenge.

“Then there is increased access to lethal means — guns, pesticides, et cetera.”

What are some things that need to change to help our farmers?

“We absolutely need a better agricultural economic structure for our farmers; that’s just systemic. Then there is access to health care for people in rural areas. We need more infrastructure as far as crisis lines. You know, hot lines are not the answer, but they can help manage crises.

“More programming where psychologists are trained to go out into rural communities, are trained in the language of agriculture so that they know the seasonality, they know the stressors that farmers are facing from one month to another and can respond in a way is culturally appropriate.

“There was a program that was called the ‘Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network’ and it was approved as part of the 2008 Farm Bill, but ultimately no money was appropriated to it, so it never got off the ground.”

What do you hope people who maybe live in the suburbs or the city, who feel a little separated from rural America —  what do you hope they take away from this piece?

“Well, it was very hard for me to place this story, in part, because I think some of these people are removed from the farm. I heard as I was pitching this story to different outlets, ‘Well, nobody farms anymore. This is not very relevant.’

“In actuality, for only the second time this century, the number of farmers under 35-years-old is increasing. So, we are gaining new farmers which is absolutely critical; we can’t eat if we don’t have farmers.

“For me, this story is everybody’s story. I think you go to the grocery and look at the bag of rice, a bag of wheat, your cotton t-shirt — all of that came from farms, from the land. And the fact that farmers are ending their lives at such a high rate in the U.S. and across the globe is relevant for everybody. 

LMPD Chief Laments Assaults, Homicides In Metro Committee Update Wednesday, Dec 6 2017 

Citing large numbers of murder and assault, dwindling officers and frustrating laws, Louisville Police Chief Steve Conrad asked council members for help on Wednesday.

Conrad’s appearance before the Metro Council Public Safety Committee was the first time he’s appeared before the committee since they expressed no-confidence in the chief months earlier, asking Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer to urge Conrad to resign.

Conrad said crime is down this year, but aggravated assaults increased and the number of homicides in Louisville have climbed to surpass other years with the exception of 2016. He said victims are typically younger and the deaths most often come from gunshot wounds. The chief also said that many of the alleged perpetrators are under the age of 21.

“The number of young people involved in these violent crimes, I believe, reinforces the importance of the community coming together to find solutions to help young people find ways to not get involved in crime,” Conrad said. “And while I’m glad that the crime numbers are lower, I am heartbroken that all of these numbers — and in particular the homicide numbers — are not significantly lower.”

Conrad defended his departments’ efforts, saying there have been more arrests and citations this year. He attributes the uptick in arrests to additional officers on the streets working overtime. According to a report from WDRB, LMPD received money from the government to pay for additional overtime and spent most of it within months.

Some shootings, Conrad said, involved stolen guns. LMPD data show more than half of the guns police recovered this year were from convicted felons. Conrad said council members could advocate increasing punishments for people convicted of a second felony, and for legislators to let local governments enact their own gun laws.

“I’m not looking to control who has a gun beyond what state law allows us to do, but I think there should be requirements on safe storage for guns,” Conrad said. He also suggested that police destroy seized guns instead of sending them for auction as required by state law.

“Those are two areas where we could really use your help as we head into the upcoming legislative session,” he said.

Conrad said he wants to hire more officers; he said many are retiring or resigning. He said many of those officers worry about proposed pension changes coming to the state, and that 98 people have left the department so far this fiscal year.

Conrad said during the last budgeting process, the council granted him partial funding for hiring officers. He wants to hire 48 from each of the upcoming recruiting classes to deal with the officers leaving.

Louisville Public Library Kicks Off Adult Winter Reading Series Sunday, Dec 3 2017 

The Louisville Free Public Library’s adult winter reading program has begun and will run through February 1.

Similar to their children’s program, participants can sign up and earn points by reading books, writing reviews and attending library-sponsored events. The points can be redeemed for prizes.

All events and registration are free.

The library has partnered with Heine Brothers Coffee, Against the Grain Brewery and 502 Fit Pass to host events, including: 

Star Wars Day: A Galactic Read & More!

South Central Regional Library

Saturday, December 2, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

This is an all-day Star Wars-themed celebration. There will be trivia, costume contests, Wookiee calling and more.

Wild & Woolly Film Series presents ‘Gremlins’

Main Library

Saturday, December 9, 7 p.m.

Join former Wild and Woolly Video owner Todd Brashear every month to watch some of his favorite cult classics and staff picks from former W&W employees.

Adult Preschool

South Central Regional Library

Friday, January 19, 7 – 9 p.m.

This after-hours program will give adults the opportunity to partake in children’s activities with an adult twist like storytime, crafts, snacks, sensory play, and more.

Character Assassination presents ‘The Roast of Stephen King’

Southwest Regional Library

Saturday, January 27, 7 p.m.

Pop-up libraries will also be hosted throughout the winter months at Heine Brothers’ locations and selected local breweries.

More information about registration is available here.

Louisville Water Continues Work To Remove Remaining Lead Water Lines Sunday, Dec 3 2017 

The remaining 4,600 lead water lines going into Louisville residents’ homes will be replaced by 2020. That’s according to Louisville Water, which announced last month that it will spend $10.9 million next year in the effort to replace these lines, which represent about 1.6 percent of the total service lines in the county.

The replacements are especially important because lead is toxic and can lead to serious health issues if ingested by children. The Louisville Health Equity report released Thursday showed more than 60 percent of children under the age of six that were tested had levels of lead in their blood that raises health concerns. Those children were tested between 2011 and 2016 by the Department of Public Health and Wellness.

The majority of places where kids tested positive for concerning lead levels were in neighborhoods in the southern and western parts of Louisville, as well as downtown.

Though lead pipes leading into the home are only part of why a child might test positive for lead, they can contribute to built-up levels from old lead paint that comes off walls and pipes within a house. And kids are much more vulnerable than adults.

“Since kids are still developing, lead is easily picked up in their bodies, it’s confused by the body as calcium. It is absorbed quickly and can lead to damage to their brain, their nervous system, cause a loss of IQ points, lead to ADHD and other issues with paying attention,” said community health coordinator Elise Bensman, who works on the city’s lead poisoning prevention project.

John Cullen, the owner of Louisville company Lock-up Lead, says lead poisoning damage is very hard to correct.

“Lead is a cumulative poison, it’s absorbed into the body,” he said. “And the body doesn’t have a mechanism to get rid of it.”

Louisville Water spokeswoman Kelley Dearing Smith said the city’s water is treated as to not pick up lead in pipes — the lack of treatment in Flint, Michigan’s water system was identified as the issue that lead to the large-scale lead poisonings there in 2014 and 2015.

“It starts at the treatment plant. We have to make sure the chemistry in the water is balanced, so lead cannot dissolve into a pipe,” Dearing Smith said. “And then the second step is eliminating our service lines. The third part is education, so letting homeowners know what we find on their side of the property.”

However, Louisville Water is not responsible for replacing lead lines that are on an individual homeowner’s property. Those are the homeowner’s responsibility, though the water company will test your water for free if there are concerns.

Rather than lead pipes, in Louisville and in the United States, lead paint is the largest source of lead poisoning. Because lead-based paint was used in homes for decades, homes built before 1978 likely have old lead paint.

The risk of lead poisoning increases as the paint peels, cracks, or is worn down, according to the Health Equity report. Families who rent must rely on the landlord or homeowner to eliminate the hazard. And for families who own their own homes, remediation can be costly.

Don’t Expect TARC And PARC To Merge Anytime Soon Saturday, Dec 2 2017 

The city’s public transit service and parking authority aren’t likely to consolidate anytime in the near future.

This is what the heads of both agencies are expected to tell Metro Council members during a meeting Tuesday with the Public Works, Parks, Sustainability and Transportation Committee.

Documents filed with the council ahead of the meeting show the agencies’ directors plan to respond to a council request that the Parking Authority of River City and the Transit Authority of River City explore “the possibility of any synergies to improve services and reduce costs.”

The request from the Metro Council was included in the city’s current budget.

Tiffany Smith, the head of PARC, and Barry Barker, the head of TARC, will discuss the history and operation of each agency at Tuesday’s meeting. They’ll also convey to the committee that “a potential consolidation of the two agencies presents clear financial and operational concerns,” according to documents filed with the council.

Challenges to consolidation stem from disparate funding streams and financial obligations, as well as the distinct duties of each agency’s personnel, according to the documents.

“A full consolidation would likely necessitate amendment of certain state statues, potentially threaten current revenue and present deep concern about current debt,” the documents state. “Further, consolidation of PARC and TARC would not improve revenues to enhance transportation services in the Louisville Metro.”

‘It just makes sense’

Unlike the Louisville Water Company and the Metropolitan Sewer District, which are working towards a consolidation, Smith and Barker said parking and public transit services in Louisville are just too different to merge.

“PARC and TARC do not have similar synergies,” the document submitted by Smith and Barker states.

Councilwoman Cindi Fowler, who chairs the committee, said she won’t be surprised by Smith and Barker’s presentation.

“I didn’t expect them to consolidate,” Fowler said. “We just want them to try to work together to bring some collaboration, just make things run smoother and more economical.”

Fowler said “it just makes sense” for the city’s top transportation agencies to collaborate.

And Smith and Barker — the agency heads — seem to agree.

In their presentation Tuesday, they’ll laud current collaborative efforts between the two agencies — like PARC’s enforcement against vehicles parked illegally in bus stop areas, shuttle services for local art festivals, and a partnership that allows TARC’s ZeroBus charging equipment to be housed, free of charge, downtown at the Glassworks Garage.

Furthermore, Smith and Barker will present plans for future collaboration that could include using a mobile-phone application for parking meter and bus fare payment and trip planning, “park and ride” facilities for bus rapid transit lines, varying parking prices to encourage transit use, and the installation of TARC kiosks in PARC garages “to facilitate the roll-out of electronic fare cards, the documents show.

“The two agencies will need to collaborate as Louisville continues to build a multi-modal transportation network with an expanded bike network and new transit technologies,” the document states. “We owe it to our citizens to encourage all modes of mobility.”

Agency History and Finances

The Parking Authority of River City is responsible for public parking in Louisville. The agency operates 14 parking garages and six parking lots, which totals more than 11,000 off-street and 5,000 on-street parking spaces, according to the city’s website.

The agency was established in 1966 by the old City of Louisville.

In fiscal year 2017, the agency collected $3.9 million in revenue from parking meters, according to that year’s budget statement. More than $76,700 was collected from meter booting in that year — a near 43 percent increase from the year prior, the statement shows.

The Transit Authority of River City operates 41 bus routes in five counties across the Louisville Metro area and serves some 47,000 riders each day, according to its website.

The agency was created in 1971 by the Kentucky General Assembly and is funded through a portion of the city’s occupational tax revenue and a smattering of government grants.

Bus fare revenue was about $10.2 million in fiscal year 2017 – a slight drop from the year prior, according to the agency’s budget.

Area Program Celebrates 10 Years Of Helping People Transition To Work Friday, Dec 1 2017 

A local program that helps residents move from public assistance to employment is marking its 10th year.

Guests gathered at the Hotel Louisville Friday for a luncheon to celebrate Power of Work. The program has helped more than 5,000 people move from public assistance, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, to find jobs.

Ramonica Kellam (pictured above) attends Jefferson Community and Technical College and plans to transfer to University of Louisville to study social work. 

“This program really helped me as far as confidence, motivation, the do’s and don’ts, proper etiquette of an interview,” said Kellam.

She was one of the graduates who spoke at the luncheon. Kellam was a part of the first class in 2007 and returned for help in 2013 after a bout with depression and other problems.

“I can always come back to the Power of Work and they’ll help me find employment,” she said. “It’s guaranteed for the rest of my life. It’s an open door policy — they don’t close theirs.”

Kimberly Boyd-Lane is program manager of Power of Work. She said some participants have sparse or even no history of work but can look at other areas of their lives for job skills.

“They need to be able to understand that when they’re managing in the home, that’s a management skill that is transferable in the world of work,” said Boyd-Lane. “Budgeting is transferable in the world of work.”

Participants have found work at 1,300 area companies and organizations. Michele Lindsey, human resource manager at Hollander Sleep Products, attended the luncheon Friday to find potential employees. Lindsey has hired baggers, shippers and machine operators through the program.

“They show up on time, they can pass a drug test, the background checking — they’re willing to work hard,” Lindsey said of the graduates.

Language barriers exist for some workers from Power of Work but Lindsey said the company uses language software to help. The company has 160 employees. In the year since Lindsey has been at Hollander she said the company has hired 10-20 employees from Power of Work.  

The program has a current budget of $1.2 million and is federally funded. Power of Work is operated by Metro Government’s KentuckianaWorks and Goodwill Industries of Kentucky.

DEA Goes After Fake Fentanyl Dealers Friday, Dec 1 2017 

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration wants to aid prosecutors in going after people who push illicit substances related to the powerful opioid fentanyl.

The DEA said this week it plans to classify drugs similar to fentanyl as illegal controlled substances. The agency said the move would allow prosecutors to charge traffickers of fake fentanyl.

Fentanyl and other versions of the drug were involved in nearly half of Kentucky’s overdose deaths last year and have become a growing problem across the country.

Acting DEA Administrator Robert Patterson said traffickers alter fentanyl’s chemicals to make similar drugs which aren’t explicitly illegal, making it more difficult for prosecutors to bring charges.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the DEA’s new classification would curb that.

“President Trump has made it a cornerstone of his presidency to combat the deadly drug crisis in America, and today the Department of Justice is taking an important step toward halting the rising death toll caused by illicit fentanyls in the United States,” Sessions said in a news release. “By scheduling all fentanyls, we empower our law enforcement officers and prosecutors to take swift and necessary action against those spreading these deadly poisons.”

The DEA has already ordered one such substance — Cyclopropyl fentanyl, — to be classified by Dec. 21.

In Kentucky, fentanyl abuse has increased dramatically.

According to Kentucky’s Overdose Fatality Reports, 424 Kentuckians died of a fentanyl-related overdose in 2015. The following year, Jefferson County was the most affected by fentanyl-related deaths with 623 people killed by fentanyl-related overdoses.

DEA spokesman Melvin Patterson said fentanyl use has grown since 2013, funneling from countries like China. Patterson said classifying fentanyl-like substances could decrease overdoses and save lives.

“It’s just a very potent substance … two milligrams is a lethal dose,” Patterson said. “It’s just not a substance that should be abused. You really are taking your life in your own hand — you’re putting this substance like this in your body.”

Opioids continue to rock the commonwealth and the country with the number of overdoses rising at historic rates and affecting communities. The DEA opened a new field division in Louisville to address the drug problem, enlisting 90 special agents and 130 task force officers.

The division would cover West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee, states crippled by 5,306 overdose deaths from opioids alone last year.

In Louisville, Development Puts Homeless Camps In Limbo Thursday, Nov 30 2017 

A small path winds through a shallow ditch and along the railroad tracks on the northern edge of Butchertown.

Heaps of trash and concrete walls plastered with graffiti dot the way.

Soon, it veers to the right beneath an old fence in to a labyrinth of tents and tarps — the ground littered with the leftovers of life past and present.

A man stands nearby drinking from a tall can of beer, his face shielded from the cool morning air by a dark hood and a long beard. His eyes are clear, his hands are dirty.

His name is Johnny. He doesn’t want to give his last name.

“I’ve been here like six years,” he said.

In that time, Johnny has seen people come and go from the camp. He’s seen people do drugs here — more frequently in recent years. He’s seen violence. He’s seen death.

He’s had his tent set ablaze and his possessions stolen.

Still, Johnny feels at home here at the place known widely as “Campbell Camp.” For years, countless others like Johnny — with no other place to go — have lived here at this camp tucked in a section of the city dominated by industrial space. Railroads. Warehouses. Junkyards.

That’ll soon change.

The land here will soon be developed into a $200 million soccer stadium project, complete with hotels, retail space and restaurants.

There will be no room for a homeless camp.

Johnny isn’t surprised.

“When I first came here I was telling people this is inner city land — progress is going to come through and they’re not going to let us stay,” he said. “Nobody wanted to believe me.”

Jacob Ryan | wfpl.org

Christmas decorations outside Johnny’s tent in Campbell Camp.

This displacement is the byproduct of a developing city. As projects take form — like the soccer stadium or Waterfront Park or the Botanical Gardens along Frankfort Avenue — it puts a squeeze on the people who actually live here.

Natalie Harris, executive director of Louisville’s Coalition for the Homeless, said there is a growing question among the city’s homeless population.

“Where is it safe for me to go?” she asked.

Harris said her group’s data shows the city’s homeless population is dropping every year. Currently, there are about 6,300 homeless residents in Louisville, according to the most recent count.

Despite this, Harris said as more camps — like Campbell Camp — are destroyed, the burden on service providers can grow.

“There isn’t enough shelter in the community,” she said. “People have to make a choice.”

Pushing homeless residents out of the urban core can push them further from the services they depend on — like the shelters, clinics and public transit, Harris said.

And shuttering camps can be problematic.

Earlier this year, city crews bulldozed a camp beneath an overpass near 14th Street, destroying the personal belongings of the people who lived there and enraging local homeless advocates.

In response, Louisville Metro Councilman Bill Hollander is proposing an ordinance that, if approved, would set in place strict protocol when it comes to the destruction of these camps.

The stipulations include requiring city agencies to give three weeks’ notice before destroying a camp and saving any personal items collected so the owners can retrieve them at a later date, according to the ordinance filed with council.

Hollander said what happened at 14th Street was heartbreaking.

“We’re talking about everything a person owns,” he said. “All of their life.”

His proposal is being backed by city officials.

Eric Friedlander, the city’s chief resilience officer, said the process of eradicating homeless camps needs to be improved.

“We should have done better,” he said.

Back at the camp, Johnny seems proud of his small plot.

Jacob Ryan | wfpl.org

Crosses in Campbell Camp honor residents who’ve died.

He’s got a tent for sleeping, a tent for storage and a tent with a toilet.

“You’ve got to keep it simple, but clean,” he said.

And he knows his days at the camp are numbered. He said police came through the camp earlier this month and said if residents start cleaning it up now they can stay through April.

If not, they’ll be forced out in the coming days.

For Johnny, shelters aren’t an option. They don’t allow dogs, and he loves his dog Trigger.

So, he intends to find another place to camp.

He said it’d be nice if city officials would designate a place for people like him to stay. A place they can camp and have a say over who comes and goes.

Harris, with the Coalition for the Homeless, said that idea is novel, but problematic.

She said such a place would require rules and regulations and eventually be no different than a shelter.

And it’s not the answer, she said.

Harris said it’s not okay that society seems comfortable with allowing people to live outside, in tents.

Instead, she’d like to see more housing made available for people like Johnny.

5 Charged With Buying Guns For Louisville Gang Wednesday, Nov 29 2017 

Authorities have arrested and charged five people with buying firearms to fuel a gang in Louisville.

Those suspects, alleged members or associates of the Victory Party Crips gang, used a third party without felony convictions to legally purchase 41 guns, officials say. Police recovered 10 weapons when the suspects were arrested; they say the remaining weapons have been identified but not yet recovered.

Weapons purchased for the Victory Party Crips gang are often used for narcotics trafficking, intimidating other gangs and earning reputation, according to police.

Louisville Police Chief Steve Conrad said the arrests could have “a chilling effect” on gang activity which continues to trouble the city.

Jonese Franklin

Pictured left to right: LMPD Chief Steve Conrad, ATF Special Agent Stuart Lowrey and FBI Special Agent Amy Hess

“It’s a continuing problem. It is not the sole problem of crime in our community, but it is a challenge,” Conrad said. “Every day it seems like we’re coming up with some new gang name.”

U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman declined to answer how many gangs are in Kentucky. Conrad said many of the local gangs develop as members’ affiliation shifts within them.

The investigation started in April on an unrelated indictment, which led police to recover a weapon. Tracing that weapon back, police found a third party purchased all but four guns within normal procedures from River City Firearms, a gun shop in Louisville.

Police traced dozens of guns in this particular investigation but the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has traced hundreds of thousands of guns in other crimes.

ATF special agent Stuart Lowrey, said around 290,000 guns were traced last year across the country. In Kentucky, Lowrey said 4,355 guns were traced in 2016 – more than half of those were pistols.

The investigation is ongoing. Each defendant is charged with conspiracy to obtain firearms. Coleman said hopes for more arrests going forward.

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