U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr announced Wednesday that the Department of Justice has federally charged more than 200 people in connection with an operation to provide federal assistance to cities struggling with surges in crimes.
Barr provided updates to the DOJ effort, known as Operation Legend, in a Wednesday press statement, marking the six week mark since the operation first began in the city. Barr said cooperation between federal and state and local law enforcement officials has resulted in around 1,500 arrests, including more than 200 people charged federally since the start of the operation.
Operation Legend was named after LeGend Taliferro, a four-year-old boy shot and killed while asleep in bed in his Kansas City home on June 29. Barr said one result of the efforts stemming from Operation Legend included the arrest of the man suspected in Taliferro’s murder.
“The arrest was the product of hard work by the Kansas City Police Department, supported by critical assistance from the FBI and U.S. Marshals,” Barr said. “This arrest will not bring LeGend back, but it again makes his case an example of how we can come together to take violent criminals off the street and make our communities more safe.”
Barr said since the start of Operation Legend, more than 1,000 federal law enforcement agents have been sent to nine U.S. cities to “work shoulder-to-shoulder with state and local law enforcement.”
“Here in Kansas City, for example, we have deployed more than 185 additional agents from the FBI, DEA, ATF, and U.S. Marshals,” Barr added.
Barr said of the more than 200 people charged federally, more than 100 have been for federal gun crimes. He also said authorities had seized hundreds of firearms from criminals and are actively pursuing “500 leads to solve further gun crimes and take even more dangerous criminals off the streets.”
“Bringing federal charges is significant, because defendants arrested for violent federal crimes can often be detained before trial – unlike state defendants who are too often released. And federal defendants will face serious sentences if convicted,” Barr said in his statements Wednesday. ” Knowing that, many of them cooperate with the government and lead us to even more violent members of gangs or drug-trafficking networks. Criminals know that federal law enforcement means business, and we are putting them out of the business of violence in our cities.”
During his remarks, Barr said violent crime had spiked under the last two years of Barack Obama’s presidency. He said under the Trump administration, crime rates went down in 2017, 2018, and 2019, but that crime rates “unfortunately” spiked again in many major cities in recent months. Barr suggested the spike could be attributed to a range of factors, “pent-up aggression” from ongoing coronavirus lockdowns as well as “efforts to demonize police and defund their work.”