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Press Release

Operation Legend: Case of the Day

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs
New Mexico: New Mexico Man Charged with Carjacking and Discharging a Firearm During a Crime of Violence

Each weekday, the Department of Justice will highlight a case that has resulted from Operation Legend. Today’s case is out of the District of New Mexico. Operation Legend was launched in Albuquerque on July 22, 2020, in response to the city facing a record-breaking homicide rate.

United States vs. Manuel A. Chavira

“Cases like this one are what Operation Legend is all about.  The violent and unprovoked actions described in the complaint contribute to the growing perception that Albuquerque is a dangerous city in which violent crime continues unchecked and out of control,” said U.S. Attorney John C. Anderson for the District of New Mexico.  “Operation Legend sends a strong message that federal law enforcement, working in concert with their state and local partners, will not stand idly by while the residents of Albuquerque live in fear of falling victim to senseless violence.  I commend the FBI and the New Mexico State Police for their seamless investigation and diligent pursuit of this defendant.”

Manuel A. Chavira, 25, was charged on Aug. 3, 2020, with carjacking and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence according to a criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court of New Mexico.  The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and New Mexico State Police Department (NMSP) launched an investigation and search for Chavira. Chavira surrendered in Las Cruces, New Mexico, on Aug. 20, 2020.

According to the criminal complaint, on July 18, 2020, Chavira approached two female victims who were in their vehicle in the parking lot of a church at the San Jose De Armijo Cemetery in the South East area of Albuquerque.  Chavira initially asked if he could charge his phone in the vehicle. As the phone would not charge, he asked to borrow the driver’s phone, ostensibly to find a tow truck for his vehicle.  The driver complied, and he used the phone to make a number of calls.

After the driver exited her vehicle to remove a sweater from her trunk, however, Chavira brandished a firearm and told her that he needed to take her vehicle.  The passenger protested, but the driver removed her keys from the ignition to give them to Chavira.  Chavira reportedly then racked the slide on the firearm, an indication that he had chambered a round of ammunition.  Chavira then pointed the firearm, shouting, “Do you want me to shoot her?  Do you want me to shoot her?”  Both victims fled, at which point they heard gunshots being fired. 

The victims described the firearm as black and possibly .22 or .25 caliber.  The victims were able to identify Chavira from photos as the suspect.  Chavira left the scene driving the victims’ blue 2019 Honda Civic SI. 

Background on Operation Legend

President Trump promised to assist America’s cities that have been plagued by violence.  In July, Attorney General William P. Barr announced the launch of Operation Legend, a sustained, systematic and coordinated law enforcement initiative across all federal law enforcement agencies working in conjunction with state and local law enforcement officials to fight violent crime in cities across America that were experiencing an uptick in violence. Operation Legend is named after four-year-old LeGend Taliferro, who was shot and killed on June 29th in Kansas City, Missouri while he slept in his home.

Since Operation Legend’s launch in Kansas City, Mo., on July 8, 2020, it has expanded to Chicago and Albuquerque on July 22, 2020, to Cleveland, Detroit, and Milwaukee on July 29, 2020, to St. Louis and Memphis on Aug. 6, 2020, and to Indianapolis on Aug. 14, 2020, As part of Operation Legend, Attorney General Barr has directed federal agents from the FBI, U.S. Marshal Service, DEA and ATF to surge resources these cities to help state and local officials fighting violent crime.  Since its inception, Operation Legend has yielded close to 1500 local, state, and federal arrests.

Updated September 1, 2020

Complaint [PDF, ]
Operation Legend
Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 20-856