CHICAGO — John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, today announced an update on Operation Legend in Chicago.
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 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. The Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations also committed additional agents.
Since the operation’s launch in Chicago on July 22, 2020, through Aug. 31, 2020, 103 defendants have been charged with federal felony offenses relating to violent crime affecting the city of Chicago. Most defendants have been charged in the Northern District of Illinois, including more than 60 defendants facing a lead firearms-related charge, and more than 25 defendants facing a lead drug trafficking charge. In addition to the charges filed in the Northern District of Illinois, several cases involving false statements in the acquisition of a firearm have been filed in the Northern District of Indiana. Those cases were investigated with the assistance of the influx of ATF agents under Operation Legend, and some of the guns were later discovered in the Chicago area.
“The mission of Operation Legend is clear: reduce violent crime and save lives,” said John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. “Enforcing the rule of law and holding offenders accountable for the crimes they commit are essential components of every reasonable strategy to ensure public safety in Chicago.”
“My Office is committed to focusing investigative and prosecutorial efforts on reducing gun violence in Northern Indiana,” said Thomas L. Kirsch II, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana. “Our coordinated effort with the Northern District of Illinois proves that state borders do not save criminals from aggressive prosecution. We are working hard across the Districts to rid our streets of violent crime. Today with the announcement of more arrests from Operation Legend, we emphasize that we are working together to focus our resources on reducing violent crime and violence due to illegal firearms on both sides of the state line.”
Recent federal cases filed in Chicago with the assistance of Operation Legend include:
- A man was charged with a firearm offense for allegedly “straw purchasing” multiple guns in Indiana on behalf of a convicted felon in Chicago.
- A man was arrested on a federal robbery charge for allegedly robbing a United Parcel Service delivery truck last month. The driver was ordered to lay face down in the street while the man and two accomplices allegedly stole several boxes from the UPS truck.
- A man was indicted on carjacking charges for allegedly stealing a vehicle from two women at gunpoint in Chicago. The man allegedly discharged a handgun during the carjacking, which led to an additional firearm charge that is punishable by a maximum sentence of life in federal prison.
- A convicted felon with a history of firearm convictions was charged with a federal firearm offense after HSI agents and CPD officers executing an arrest warrant discovered two handguns and 70 rounds of ammunition in his Volvo convertible.
Several of the cases involving felons in illegal 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.
During Operation Legend, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and its federal partners have also worked closely with the Cook County Sheriff’s Office and Illinois State Police.
Operation Legend is named in honor of four-year-old LeGend Taliferro, who was shot and killed while he slept on June 29, 2020, in Kansas City, Mo. A 22-year-old Kansas City man has been charged with LeGend’s murder. The arrest was the product of a coordinated effort by the Kansas City Police Department, FBI, and U.S. Marshals Service.
Operation Legend began in Kansas City on July 8, 2020. In addition to Chicago, it 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 2,000 state, local, and federal arrests. Of the individuals arrested, 476 have been charged in federal courts, including 249 with firearms offenses and 185 with drug-related offenses. In addition, law enforcement has seized 544 firearms, more than seven kilograms of fentanyl, 14 kilograms of heroin, 12 kilograms of cocaine, and 50 kilograms of methamphetamine.