Jeff Jensen, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri, joined the Department of Justice in officially announcing the expansion of Operation Legend to St. Louis. Operation Legend, 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, will be expanding into the City of St. Louis.
“The most basic responsibility of government is to protect the safety of our citizens,” said Attorney General William P. Barr. “Today, we have extended Operation Legend to Memphis and St. Louis, two cities experiencing increases in violent crime that no resident of those cities should have to accept as part of everyday life. For decades, the Department of Justice has achieved significant success when utilizing our anti-violent 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 of our streets.”
“Operation Legend has come to St. Louis,” said U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen. “Today we expand our ever-present federal commitment to the City of St. Louis by welcoming federal agents and money to our City for the purpose of fighting gun and gang violence. This expansion will greatly enhance on-going crime fighting by our Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, the Joint ATF-St. Louis Metropolitan Strike Force, and the United States Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force. Our children are being caught in the crossfire and murdered in senseless acts of gun violence. I am very grateful to work with our federal, state and local law enforcement partnerships in a dedicated effort to achieve safety and security for our community. I want to thank Chief John Hayden as well as the various federal and state agencies that make this initiative possible.”
Operation Legend is named in honor of four-year-old LeGend Taliferro, who was shot and killed while he slept early on the morning of June 29 in Kansas City. The operation was first launched on July 8 in Kansas City, Missouri, and is now underway in Chicago, Albuquerque, Cleveland, Detroit, and Milwaukee. Today, the expansion of Operation Legend was announced in St. Louis and Memphis.
In the City of St. Louis, the Department of Justice will supplement state and local law enforcement agencies by sending more than 50 federal investigators from the Department of Homeland Security to the City. Under the leadership of U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen, these investigators will complement the work already underway by existing joint federal, state and local task forces focused on combatting violent gangs, gun crime, and drug trafficking organizations.
St. Louis is currently experiencing a significant increase in violent crime, with homicides up over 34% and non-fatal shootings are up over 13%. These resources will be utilized to address the spike in violent crime.
During a press conference to announce the expansion of Operation Legend, FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard Quinn announced that as part of the initiative, a reward of up to $25,000 would be made available for information leading to the identification and arrest of the individual or individuals responsible for the homicides of Kayden E. Johnson, two years of age at the time, and his mother Trina’ty A. Riley, 18, inside their home on April 30, 2019.
“I just need closure. My family needs peace. We just want justice. If you know anything, please contact the detectives,” said Taiesha Campbell, mother of Trina’ty and grandmother of Kayden, in connection with today’s announcement.
The Bureau of Justice Assistance will make available $1 million to support Operation Legend’s violent crime reduction efforts and shot spotter responses in St. Louis. The City is also receiving two Special Assistant United States Attorneys from the Missouri Attorney General’s Office to support violent crime prosecutions.