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Special agent in gang sweeps to head federal ATF

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

The next head of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has close ties to the Aurora area.

This week, President Barack Obama nominated Andrew Traver as the next director of the agency commonly known as the ATF.

Since 2004, Traver has been the Special Agent in Charge of the ATF’s Chicago field division. Traver has been instrumental in the Chicago ATF’s increased involvement in breaking up gangs.

Five years ago, Traver gave the final approval to the police sweep of Aurora’s Insane Deuces, a landmark suburban investigation that treated local gangs as criminal organizations rather than loose affiliates of neighborhood thugs.

In 2005, federal prosecutors charged 16 members of Aurora’s Insane Deuces with racketeering, accusing them of being part of a conspiracy that committed three murders, several attempted murders and more than $1 million in drug trafficking.

Of those 16, 15 were convicted and one man is wanted. Eight of the defendants got life sentences. The rest received at least 20 years in prison.

“Andy (Traver) was an integral player in that,” said William Lawler, who was Aurora’s police chief at the time of the gang sweep. “He clearly understood what was at stake — that this was a pretty monumental thing. The results speak for themselves.”

Lawler said Traver was the consummate professional who was able to work with local and federal agencies without ego.

Traver is a Northern Illinois University graduate, who started as a special agent with the ATF’s Chicago Division in 1987. He later worked in supervisory roles in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., New Orleans and San Francisco.

Traver returned to Illinois in 2004, where he directed all ATF programs and oversaw all firearm, arson and explosives investigations, according to the White House.

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