Utica Police have removed 23 total illegal handguns from city streets since the beginning of 2021. One of those handguns was removed over the weekend.

Utica Police announced the arrest of two individuals following a traffic stop at the intersection the of South Street and King Street Saturday. Police say units with the Gun Involved Violence Elimination (GIVE) Strike Team pulled over a Chrysler 200 sedan for alleged vehicle and traffic violations just after 10 p.m.

During the stop, officers say cause was established to search the vehicle and the occupants. Police say during the search, they located a Springfield handgun magazine containing live rounds in the pocket of a sweatshirt worn by the driver, 22-year-old Shakir Sanders of Utica. Officials say a further search located the Springfield handgun associated with the magazine under the passenger seat of the sedan. As a result of the discovery, police say Sanders and his passenger, 19-year-old Jesmonte Hawkins-Brown, were arrested and are now facing weapon charges.

Officials say both individuals are charged with Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the 2nd degree and Criminal Possession of a Firearm. In addition to the weapon charges, Sanders is facing several New York State vehicle and traffic violations as well. Both individuals were transported to the Utica Police Department following their arrest. Police say efforts put forward by members of their GIVE unit and others have successfully removed 23 illegal firearms from the streets of the city since January 1st. Their efforts continue and if anyone has a tip or information that could assist them in that effort, you're asked to contact them directly. You can also submit anonymous tips to Mohawk Valley Crime Stoppers.

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