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The Latest: Attorney general talks tough about gang crime

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Latest on U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ speech before Tennessee law enforcement (all times local):

10:55 a.m.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has issued a warning to gang members in Tennessee and around the country, saying that their criminal networks will be devastated as law enforcement officials take a stronger stance on fighting violent crime.

Sessions’ tough talk came as he spoke before more than 80 local, state and federal prosecutors and law enforcement officers in Memphis on Thursday. He was promoting the Justice Department’s efforts to bring the harshest possible charges against most suspects, including drug traffickers and those who use guns to commit crimes.

Sessions has contended that a spike in violence in some big cities and the nation’s opioid epidemic show the need for a return to tougher tactics compared with the Obama administration. Critics have warned the shift would crowd prisons and strain resources of local and state law enforcement, in addition to the Justice Department.

3:30 a.m.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is scheduled to speak with Tennessee law enforcement officials about efforts to fight violent crime, nearly two weeks after he said prosecutors should bring the toughest charges possible against most suspects.

Sessions’ speech is set for Thursday morning in Memphis, a city beset by gang activity, drug crime and gun violence.

One of the poorest big cities in the country, Memphis saw a record 228 homicides last year. Statistics show the overall crime rate through the first four months of this year is 7 percent higher than during the same period in 2016.

Sessions has contended that a spike in violence in some big cities and the nation’s opioid epidemic show the need for a return to tougher tactics compared with the Obama administration.

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