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Press Release

Attorney General William P. Barr Announces Launch of Operation Relentless Pursuit

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Ohio

The Operation will surge federal law enforcement resources into seven of America’s most violent cities – including Cleveland, Ohio

Today, Attorney General William P. Barr announced the launch of Operation Relentless Pursuit, an initiative aimed at combating violent crime in seven of America’s most violent cities – including Cleveland – through a surge in federal resources.

Joined at a press conference in Detroit, M.I., by ATF Acting Director Regina Lombardo, DEA Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and United States Marshals Service Director Donald W. Washington, Attorney General Barr pledged to intensify federal law enforcement resources into Albuquerque, Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, Kansas City, Memphis, and Milwaukee – seven American cities with violent crime levels several times the national average.

United States Attorney Justin Herdman and the Cleveland-based federal law enforcement heads announced their participation in the initiative in a press conference immediately following the Attorney General’s remarks.

 “Americans deserve to live in safety,” said Attorney General William P. Barr. “And while nationwide violent crime rates are down, many cities continue to see levels of extraordinary violence. Operation Relentless Pursuit seeks to ensure that no American city is excluded from the peace and security felt by the majority of Americans, while also supporting those who serve and protect in these communities with the resources, training, and equipment they need to stay safe.”

“Operation Relentless Pursuit is aptly named, as it is what we do every day in law enforcement through great partnerships on the federal, state, and local level,” said United States Attorney Herdman, “With these additional Department of Justice resources, we will tirelessly pursue the most violent criminals, fugitives, gang members and drug traffickers in our city.  We will also relentlessly pursue a brighter, safer future for all of our friends and neighbors in Cleveland.”

“ATF’s Columbus Field Division is focused on reducing crime gun violence in our communities,” said Special Agent in Charge Jonathan McPherson. “We will work aggressively, using every tool in our toolbox, to identify, investigate and support the prosecution of the most violent firearm offenders.  Our combined goal with our partners is a safer Cleveland for us all.”

“Drug traffickers are using a double edged sword to destroy communities. On one side are the poisons they peddle and the other edge is the violence that often accompanies their criminal enterprise," said DEA Special Agent in Charge Keith Martin. "Operation Relentless Pursuit will concentrate law enforcement action to combat violent crime in designated high impact areas. DEA will target the drug trafficking sources and distributors who comprise, finance, and otherwise sustain the operations of violent organizations."

“FBI Cleveland Division is proud to partner with numerous law enforcement agencies to enforce Operation Relentless Pursuit,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric Smith.  “We will continue to identify, investigate and hold accountable those choosing to engage in violent crime, but now we will have additional resources to utilize.  Our strong, existing partnerships will benefit us greatly in our efforts to implement this DOJ initiative."

"The U.S. Marshals Service and the Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force are prepared and committed to the Attorney General’s upcoming operation and surge into the community to reduce violence and increase safety,” stated U.S. Marshal Peter Elliott.  “We will support this mission by working with our federal, state and local partners to take violent fugitives off the streets of Cleveland.” 

The Operation will involve increasing the number of federal law enforcement officers to the selected cities, as well as bulking up federal task forces through collaborative efforts with state and local law enforcement partners. The surge in federal agents will be complemented by a financial commitment of up to $71 million in federal grant funding that can be used to hire new officers, pay overtime and benefits, finance federally deputized task force officers, and provide mission-critical equipment and technology.  

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Bridget M. Brennan
(216) 622-3810

Updated December 18, 2019

Violent Crime