CHICAGO — John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, today joined Attorney General William P. Barr to announce an update on Operation Legend.
Operation Legend is a sustained, systematic and coordinated law enforcement initiative in which federal law enforcement agencies work in conjunction with state and local law enforcement officials to fight violent crime. As part of the initiative, the Department of Justice allocated additional investigators and resources to the FBI, DEA, ATF, and U.S. Marshals Service, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations committed additional agents.
Since the operation’s launch in Chicago on July 22, 2020, 61 defendants have been charged in 49 cases alleging federal felony offenses relating to violent crime affecting the city of Chicago. Those cases include more than 30 defendants facing a lead firearms-related charge, and more than 25 defendants facing a lead drug trafficking charge. During Operation Legend, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and its federal partners have worked closely with state and local law enforcement, including the Chicago Police Department, Cook County Sheriff’s Office, and Illinois State Police.
“The substantial resources under Operation Legend have assisted our office in prosecuting firearm and drug trafficking offenses, which drive the unacceptable level of violent crime in Chicago,” said U.S. Attorney Lausch. “We will continue to use these additional resources to investigate and prosecute trigger-pullers, drug traffickers, carjackers, and those who illegally traffic, use, and possess firearms. Every reasonable strategy to combat violent crime must emphasize the rule of law and holding offenders accountable for the crimes they commit – these are necessary actions designed to ensure public safety.”
The federal cases brought in Chicago with the assistance of Operation Legend include:
- A convicted felon who was charged with illegally possessing ammunition that had been loaded in a personally-manufactured firearm, also known as a “ghost gun.” The gun allegedly discharged when Chicago Police officers pursued the defendant and arrested him.
- An individual charged with a firearm offense after allegedly driving from Chicago to Indiana, purchasing seven firearms, and transporting the guns back to Chicago with the intent to sell them.
- A convicted felon was charged with illegal possession of a firearm and using a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime after ATF agents found him in a hotel room in downtown Chicago with a personally-manufactured gun, ammunition, 17.5 kilograms of marijuana, and $1,400 in cash.
- A Chicago resident was charged with illegally possessing a machinegun. The semiautomatic handgun was equipped with an auto-sear device, also known as a “switch,” that made it capable of automatically shooting more than one shot without manually reloading.
- A Chicago man was charged with dealing firearms without a license for allegedly selling three guns, including a rifle, to a confidential source who was cooperating with law enforcement.
Several of the cases involving felons in possession of firearms were charged directly in federal court after ATF agents worked side-by-side with the Chicago Police Department in neighborhoods of the city that have suffered through the highest number of shootings and homicides. In other firearm investigations, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has worked with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office to determine the best forum in which to bring a prosecution.
U.S. Attorney Lausch and the Attorney General provided the Operation Legend update at a news conference in Kansas City, Mo. – where the operation was originally launched on July 8, 2020. The initiative is named in honor of four-year-old LeGend Taliferro, who was shot and killed while he slept early in the morning of June 29 in Kansas City. In addition to Kansas City and Chicago, Operation Legend has expanded to Albuquerque, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Memphis, and Indianapolis.
In all of the operation’s cities thus far, there have been more than 1,000 arrests, including defendants who have been charged in state and local courts. Of those arrests, approximately 217 defendants have been charged with federal crimes. In addition, nearly 400 firearms have been seized by ATF. These numbers do not include Indianapolis, whose operation was announced on Friday.