U.S. Attorney General William Barr announced Operation Legend on July 8 for Kansas City, Mo., but it has since expanded to eight other cities. Pool Photo by Chip Somodevilla/UPI | License Photo
Sept. 4 (UPI) -- The Justice Department said agents have arrested more than 2,000 people under a two-month law enforcement initiative targeting violent crime in nine cities.
U.S. Attorney General William Barr launched Operation Legend on July 8 in Kansas City, Mo., and was expanded to Chicago, Albuquerque, Cleveland, Detroit and Milwaukee later that month. In August, the mission was brought to St. Louis, Memphis and Indianapolis.
The Justice Department said in a statement Thursday that more than 2,000 people had been arrested under the initiative by Aug. 31, including 137 people on homicide charges.
Of those arrested, 476 people have been charged with federal offenses, 249 of whom have been indicted on firearms charges and 185 on drug-related charges with the other defendants facing a variety of federal offenses.
Of those charged with federal crimes, 99 were arrested in Kansas City, 103 in Chicago, 35 in Albuquerque, 54 in Cleveland, 41 in Detroit, 15 in St. Louis, 14 in Memphis and 26 in Indianapolis, the department said.
The new figure is up some 500 arrests since Aug. 19 when Barr said 1,500 people had been taken into police custody under the operation named after 4-year-old LeGend Taliferro, who was fatally shot while sleeping early June 29 in Kansas City.
Police have also seized more than 544 firearms, more than 7 kilos of fentanyl, 14 kilos of heroin, 12 kilos of cocaine and 50 kilos of methamphetamine, authorities said.
Barr has described Operation Legend as "the heart of the federal response" to a recent uptick in violence with the mission to save lives but it has come under criticism for sending federal agents to fight violent crime in cities that have seen sustained protests against police brutality and racial inequality following the fatal Memorial Day police shooting of George Floyd in Minnesota.
Following the expanded rollout of the operation at the end of July, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups called on several U.S. House and Senate committees in a letter to conduct public oversight hearings on the deployment of federal agents, including under Operation Legend, to these cities.
"Immediate hearings are necessary to prevent more individuals from being needlessly persecuted by unjust federal law enforcement activities," the letter said.