You are here

Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Mexico

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, July 22, 2020

ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM P. BARR JOINS PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP TO ANNOUNCE EXPANSION OF OPERATION LEGEND

Originally launched in Kansas City, MO., additional cities include Chicago and Albuquerque

            WASHINGTON – Today, Attorney General William P. Barr joined President Donald J. Trump to announce the expansion of Operation Legend to Chicago and Albuquerque.  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 officials to fight violent crime. The Operation was first launched on July 8 in Kansas City, Missouri, as a result of President Trump’s promise to assist America’s cities that are plagued by recent violence.

            Operation Legend is named after four-year-old LeGend Taliferro, who was shot and killed while he slept early in the morning of June 29 in Kansas City.  The first federal arrest under Operation Legend was announced on July 20.

            “The most basic responsibility of government is to protect the safety of our citizens,” said Attorney General Barr. “Today, we have extended Operation Legend to Chicago and Albuquerque to protect the residents of those cities from senseless acts of deadly violence by targeting those involved in gang activity and those who use guns to commit violent crime. 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 which 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.”

             U.S. Attorney John C. Anderson added the following:

                       "We are grateful for today’s additional commitment of the President and the Attorney General to fighting violent crime in Albuquerque at a time when violent crime remains a plague on our streets. Too often in Albuquerque, violent crimes have left a tragic and lasting impact upon innocent families. Operation Legend reminds us of the human cost that comes from unchecked violence on our streets.

                       As an example of that human cost, the FBI has today announced a reward seeking information leading to the identification and arrest of the individual(s) responsible for  the homicide of Albuquerque resident Jacqueline Vigil. As most in our community are aware, Vigil was fatally shot in her driveway in Albuquerque on the morning of November 19, 2019, when she was headed to the gym. Vigil was 55 years old.

                      Our experience has proven that federal efforts can make a difference in Albuquerque.  For example, as reported in the local press in July 2019, a significant decline of the overall number of robberies the city of Albuquerque coincided with the increase in the United States Attorney’s Office’s prosecution of robberies under the federal Hobbs Act. 

                      I must also briefly address several mistaken reports concerning Operation Legend. The public should please not confuse or equate Operation Legend with the events unfolding in Portland, Oregan. Portland is not an Operation Legend City and Operation Legend was not conceived or announced in response to the events in Portland. Nor is Operation Legend directed at controlling protestors or about immigration enforcement. 

                      Operation Legend is instead about fighting violent crime.  As such, it is a direct augmentation of federal resources for the vital work that federal agents are already doing in Albuquerque in concentrating upon the most dangerous actors and groups in an effort to make the city where we all work and live a safer place."

           As part of Operation Legend, Attorney General Barr directed the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, DEA and ATF to significantly increase resources into Chicago and Albuquerque in the coming weeks to help state and local officials fight high levels of violent crime, particularly gun violence. Chicago is currently experiencing a significant increase in violent crime, with homicides currently up 51% over 2019. Over the weekend of July 17, more than 60 people were shot in the city of Chicago, with 14 fatalities. Similarly, Albuquerque is currently on pace to break 2019’s record for homicides in the city. On the weekend of July 10, there were four murders in Albuquerque within a 24-hour period.

            In Albuquerque, the Department of Justice will supplement state and local law enforcement agencies by sending more than 25 federal investigators from the FBI, DEA, and ATF to the city.  In coordination with the United States Attorney’s Office, these federal investigators will work closely with the Albuquerque Police Department and the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department, along with other local partners, through pre-existing task forces directed at combatting violent crimes. Up to ten HSI agents will assist with the efforts in Albuquerque, as well.

            The Department of Justice has also made available over $1.5 million in COPS Hiring Grants to the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department to onboard five deputies and to support additional federal task force officers committed to violent crime reduction efforts. Additionally, the COPS Office has made $9.74 million available to the Albuquerque Police Department to fund the hiring of 40 officers. Separately, the Bureau of Justice Assistance has made available $1.4 million to reimburse the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office for the work of local law enforcement on the federal task forces supporting Operation Legend’s violent crime reduction efforts. The Department has also provided assistance through the Joint Law Enforcement Operations (JLEO) fund to assist reimbursement of local law enforcement serving as federal task force officers with FBI, ATF, DEA, and the U.S. Marshals Service.  These JLEO funds also will be used to assist the City of Albuquerque in acquiring technology used for detection of gunshots and development of an integrated response plan to gunshots by local law enforcement.

Topic(s): 
Office and Personnel Updates
Press Release Number: 
20-123
Updated July 27, 2020