SAN DIEGO — A three-month campaign to reduce violent crime in San Diego County has led law enforcement to seize a plethora firearms.

That’s according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman’s office Wednesday, which also states 33 people were prosecuted during the operation.

Dubbed the “Privately Made Firearm Crime Reduction Project,” officials say the campaign ran from February to May this year to address gun violence and the rapid production of ghost guns in the region.

Law enforcement officials seized a total of 165 firearms during this effort, with 82 of them being privately-made weapons, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

One of the 33 arrests was a 22-year-old Marine accused of selling 22 ghost guns, according to prosecutors.

“Christian Ferrari, an active duty U.S. Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton, was charged with illegally selling ghost guns to an undercover ATF agent,” Grossman said.

To determine areas where there was an increase in gun violence, officials explained that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and explosives (ATF) and the San Diego Police Department used data analytics.

This helped law enforcement determine where to place resources and intelligence-led policing efforts to have the greatest impact during the 90-day initiative, officials said.

Investigative techniques used during this campaign included undercover operations, surveillance, scouring social media accounts and using confidential informants and undercover federal agents.

The attorney’s office noted, “Law enforcement personnel risked their lives during nearly 88 operations to get these guns out of the hands of criminals and make communities safe.”

The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) said it received a federal grant through the Department of Justice to enhance their tracking of crimes that involved firearms across the region.

SANDAG has reported that ghost guns have been a growing challenge around the county in recent years with a 401% increase in recoveries by local law enforcement agencies from 2019 to 2021.

Furthermore, the City of San Diego says one-quarter of the guns recovered by police at crime scenes and during investigations during 2021 were privately manufactured and lacked serial numbers.

“Our number one priority is keeping our residents safe, and gun crimes are a direct threat to that safety,” said U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “Every illegal gun that is removed from criminal hands makes us safer, and for that reason this operation was a tremendous success.”

“The proliferation of firearms and drugs in our community is an issue the San Diego Police Department is laser-focused on,” SDPD Chief David Nisleit said during Wednesday morning’s press conference, adding that the department was the first in the nation to create a Ghost Gun Apprehension Team aimed at investigating the manufacturing of guns without serial numbers.

“Our streets are safer today because of the removal of these untraceable firearms, and. lets be clear why these exist, they only use it to cover criminals tracks,” San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said.

“The criminals we focused our efforts on are violent individuals selling extremely powerful firearms,” ATF San Diego Assistant Special Agent in Charge Jose Medina said.

“Let today be a loud message to those making and selling firearms to prohibited people, and to those who are modifying these guns into automatic machine guns, ATF is focusing on you,” Medina added.

Zara Barker contributed to this report.