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U.S. Marshals are finding more guns on wanted fugitives in Utah

(File photo)

SALT LAKE CITY – More guns are ending up in the hands of wanted fugitives in Utah, according to the U.S. Marshals Service office in Salt Lake City. Of the 125 arrested fugitives this year, the USMS said a staggering number had firearms.

“It’s never been this bad in my 16-year experience in law enforcement,” said Nick Chournos with the Violent Fugitive Apprehension Team. “If I had to guess, and it’s just a guess, but I would say about 30-40% of the arrested fugitives had guns on them.”

Several Utah fugitives found with guns

The USMS arrested several fugitives over the past weeks, including five in March that resulted in gun confiscations. The service reported 37% of the 125 fugitives taken into custody were wanted for firearms violations and 34% had gang affiliations.

It makes an already dangerous job even more stressful, Chournos said.

“It’s called high risk for a reason,” he said, referring to the VFAST team and its mission.

Chournos said he cannot guess why so many more fugitives have guns when they are apprehended or how they’re getting them. He suspects it might have something to do with the politically charged environment over the last year.

The USMS reports all gun-related arrests to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and the U.S. Attorney’s office for screening additional federal firearms charges.