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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Federal, state and local law enforcement are teaming up to create a new drug and organized crime task force in St. Louis, U.S. attorneys for the region announced Tuesday.

Officials say the goal of the Gateway Strike Force is to combine resources to investigate drug trafficking, murders and other crimes committed by gangs and cartels in the St. Louis area, both in Missouri and in nearby Illinois.

The strike force is under the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force program, which is an independent component of the U.S. Department of Justice. Similar strike forces are in place in 18 other cities, including Kansas City, which announced its program in December.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Delworth said the strike force will initially get $600,000 for the program, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. He said the strike force also will have greater access to tracking devices, wiretaps and undercover agents.

Gateway Strike Force investigations are geared toward federal prosecutions but officials say it could also lead to criminal prosecutions in state courts.

Groups participating in the strike force include the DEA, FBI, St. Louis County and city police, the Missouri Highway Patrol and the Missouri National Guard.

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Editor's Note: This story was first distributed to its members by The Associated Press on April 28. It was updated on May 11 to correct that the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces program is an independent component of the U.S. Department of Justice and is not overseen by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

 

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