Operation LeGend: Feds arresting violent criminals as politicians fight to protect bad guys

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CHICAGO, IL – On Friday, July 21, less than 2 weeks after the launch of Operation LeGend, United States Attorney Tim Garrison announced 97 arrests by local and federal law enforcement officers.

Eleven of those arrestees taken into custody between July 15 and July 31 have been charged with additional federal charges.  Out of those 11, nine have been charged with illegally possessing firearms, one defendant charged with trafficking drugs and another charged with carjacking.

Out of the remaining 88 arrestees, 49 of those were fugitives with federal or state warrants for their arrest, and the remaining 39 non-fugitive arrests were deferred to the state court for prosecution.  There were several other offenses cited in the arrest affidavits, to include, assault, robbery, child molestation, sexual assault, and homicide.

During these arrests, Federal agents and local officers seized 35 firearms, nearly three kilograms of methamphetamine, hundreds of miscellaneous pills such as: Oxycontin and Ecstasy, heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine, and nearly $40,000 in cash.   

According to Garrison:

“[Operation LeGend is] the impact of a targeted initiative to reduce violent crime, carried out by local and federal law enforcement working together. 

Many of those who were arrested were illegally carrying firearms or illegal drugs.  By bringing them to justice, we reduce the level violence on the street and the threat of crime in our neighborhoods.”

According to officials, Operation LeGend is a “sustained, systematic and coordinated law enforcement initiative, in which federal law enforcement agencies in conjunction with state and local law enforcement agencies to fight violent crime.”

Operation LeGend was named to honor LeGend Taliferro, a four-year-old who was shot and killed while he slept, early in the morning of June 29 in Kansas City. 

Funding for this joint initiative is being made available by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Joint Law Enforcement Operations or JLEO and the COPS in order to help fund the initiative and hire more officers.  

Across the board, more than 255 federal agents were assigned to the task force and distributed throughout the cities. Each city will also get $100,000 from the ATF to help absorb the cost of installing or maintaining shot detection technology. 

Operation LeGend first commenced on July 8 in Kansas City, and quickly expanded later in the month to Chicago and Albuquerque.  On July 29, Operation LeGend expanded into three other cities that have been hard hit with violence: Cleveland, Detroit and Milwaukee. 

In his position with Operation LeGend, Attorney General, William P. Barr, helped direct the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, DEA, and the ATF to sharply increase law enforcement resources in some of the cities hardest hit with violence and drugs such as Cleveland and Milwaukee. 

Cleveland has seen a huge increase in violent crime; homicides are up more than 13 percent and shootings are up over 35 percent since 2019. 

Detroit’s homicides are up almost 31 percent and shootings are up over 53 percent, while Milwaukee has their homicides rising at 85 percent and shootings are up 64 percent. 

This task force will assist the already hardworking officers in these areas and focus on reducing the overall violent crimes such as homicides and shootings, as well as the violent drug trafficking organizations. 

Attorney General Barr stated:

“The most basic responsibility of government is to protect the safety of our citizens. Today we have extended Operation LeGend to Cleveland, Detroit, and Milwaukee, three cities that have seen disturbing increases in violent crime, particularly homicides.

For decades, the Department of Justice has achieved significant success when utilizing our anti-crime task forces and federal law enforcement agents to enforce federal law and assist American Cities that are experiencing upticks in violent crime. 

The Department of Justice’s assets will supplement local law enforcement efforts, as we work together to take the shooters and chronic violent criminals off our streets.”

Despite the massive success the program has proved to be so far, some in Albuquerque have taken to the streets to protest the operation. Of course they have.

Sunday evening, hundreds were seen in Civic Plaza to protest against the 35 federal officers in the area meant to reduce violent crime in the city. 

Several groups, including the “Black New Mexico Movement” organized the protest. 

While no arrests were made during the demonstration, the New Mexico US Attorney has said that the federal agents are necessary because local leaders haven’t handled the out of control violent crime rate.

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Here’s another recent story from Law Enforcement Today on Operation LeGend.

Back on July 8th, the White House announced Operation LeGend, which meant that some 200 federal law enforcement agents from the FBI, U.S. Marshal Service, and other federal agencies would be sent into Kansas City to help combat the recent surge in violence.

This initiative is mean to quell the violence that has exploded in many cities from coast to coast. According to KCUR 89.3, Kansas City wants to clarify what Operation LeGend is, and what it is not as it relates to their city.

Tim Garrison, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri said in a statement:

“This is not Portland. This has nothing to do with anybody’s exercise of their rights to protest. We are simply here to address the unprecedented levels of violence that is exemplified by the senseless and tragic killing of LeGend Taliferro.”

LeGend Taliferro, 4-years-old, was shot and killed by a bullet fired from outside his home while he slept in his bedroom. The tragic incident took place on June 29th and police believe the apartment was targeted, although as of this writing, no arrests have been made in the case.

A few says before the announcement from the White House, Garrison’s office had contacted the mayor’s office, the Kansas City Police Department, and Missouri Governor Mike Parson to outline the operation and secure their approval.

Garrison said their support was critical to launching the initiative in Kansas City.

Back on July 7th, Mayor Quinton Lucas sent a letter from his office to Garrison, pledging support for the operation.

Last week, U.S. Attorney General William Barr falsely claimed that federal agents assigned to Operation LeGend had already made 200 arrests in Kansas City. Garrison, corrected this statement by saying at the time, federal agents had actually made only one arrest related to the operation.

According to Garrison, Barr might have been confusing Operation LeGend with another similarly focused initiative from last December, Operation Relentless Pursuit, which the COVID-19 pandemic forced to wind down early.

Garrison says Operation LeGend is something of a reboot, and as of recent has resulted in more than a dozen arrests for violence in Kansas City.

Many community members welcome the additional federal presence in their city. DaNearle Clark, an apprentice funeral director at Serenity Funeral Home at Bannister and Toot said in a statement:

“I support Operation LeGend 100%. There’s a whole lot of homicides happening now and it needs to stop.”

While making his statement, Clark was standing in a large room filled with hundreds of meticulously spaced purple chairs and an open casket up front. This was the same room where LeGend Taliferro was memorialized. 

Clark said:

“It was a whole lot of hurt in this room that day. And I myself felt it. A lot of our community, people in the community felt it. They still feel it.”

According to KCTV News 5, Garrison said that any federal agents involved in Operation LeGend to reduce violent crime in the city will be clearly identifiable when making arrests. He said in a written statement that Operation LeGend and their presence in Kansas City is in response to an increase in violent crime, not local protests.

He said:

“These agents won’t be patrolling the streets. They won’t replace or usurp the authority of local officers.”

Garrison reiterated:

“When they are making arrests or executing warrants, these federal agents will be clearly identified by their agency’s visible badges or insignia. The only people federal agents will be removing from the street are those they arrest in the course of their investigations of violent crimes.”

The additional 225 federal agents that were recently sent from various federal agencies will join the 400 agents already working and living in the Kansas City area. Back on July 21st, the first arrest under Operation LeGend took place.

Monty W. Ray, 20 was charged with being an unlawful drug user in possession of firearms. According to reports, a Missouri police detective indicated that the U.S. Marshals Service worked with local officials to locate Ray, who had active warrants, including one for felony assault against a law enforcement officer.

Related to this arrest, Garrison said in a statement:

“A fugitive from justice, driving a stolen vehicle and carrying stolen firearms, is a violent crime waiting to happen. Federal and local law enforcement worked together to bring him to justice and protect our community from violence.”

 

 

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