- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Federal officers involved in Operation Legend, a Justice Department initiative to assist cities plagued by violent crime, have made more than 1,000 arrests across the country, Attorney General William Barr said Wednesday.

Of those arrests, more than 200 defendants have been charged with federal crimes, including 90 murder suspects, and nearly 400 guns have been taken off the streets, Mr. Barr said, speaking with reporters in Kansas City, Missouri.

“Operation Legend is the heart of the federal government’s response to this uptick in violent crime,” he said. “Its mission is to save lives, solve crimes and take violent offenders off our streets before they can claim more victims.

“Rather than demonizing or defunding police, we are supporting and strengthening our law enforcement partners at the state and local level.”

Operation Legend is named after 4-year-old LeGend Taliferro, who was shot and killed in Kansas City while he was sleeping. The operation started in that city earlier this month.

Ryson Ellis, 22, of Kansas City was charged last week with second-degree murder and unlawful use of a weapon in the boy’s death. His arrest was made with assistance from federal agents.

“LeGend is a symbol of the many hundreds of innocent lives that have been taken in the recent upsurge of crime in many of our urban areas,” Mr. Barr said. “His name should be remembered and his senseless death, like those of all the other innocent victims in this recent surge, should be unacceptable to all Americans.”

The initiative was expanded on July 22 to include Chicago and Albuquerque, New Mexico. Detroit, Cleveland and Milwaukee were added in late July, and Indianapolis was added last week.

Cities that are part of Operation Legend will receive increased resources from the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, Drug Enforcement Administration and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to reduce violent crime, with a focus on gun violence.

More than 1,000 additional agents have been sent to the nine cities.

The program also has allocated $78.5 million in grants to fund additional police positions, more prosecutors and improve technology to solve gun crimes.

A total of 61 defendants in Chicago have been charged with federal crimes. In Albuquerque, 16 individuals face federal charges, 32 in Cleveland, 22 in Detroit, 11 in Milwaukee, 15 in St. Louis and seven in Memphis, Tennessee.

Indianapolis was not included in the totals because that program began only last week.

Federal charges include illegal possession of a firearm, distribution of narcotics, carjacking, and bank robbery.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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