ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It has been more than a month since federal agents arrived in Albuquerque as part of the controversial crime-fighting effort Operation Legend. U.S. Attorney for New Mexico John Anderson said that it is just a small number of people driving the majority of violent crime here in Albuquerque, and their goal is to get those people off the streets.
Convicted felons accused of things like carjacking, illegally shooting guns and drug dealing are all part of the Operation Legend round up. “We are really looking at the people who are driving the violent crime epidemic in Albuquerque,” Anderson said.
Anderson said so far, at least 19 people have been federally charged. “There are more cases on which prosecution has been initiated, but I can’t say more about them because they are under seal,” Anderson said.
Anderson said they are targeting people with lengthy and violent criminal histories. For example, Manuel Chavira has been arrested 11 times. Chavira’s previously been convicted of receiving or transferring a stolen motor vehicle, criminal damage to property and aggravated fleeing of a law enforcement officer. “We are looking to remove the most violent folks from communities, not simply rack up arrest numbers of people who do not have serious criminal histories,” Anderson said.
Anderson said another success is publicly naming Luis Talamantes-Romero as Jackie Vigil’s accused killer. “We certainly credit APD with having done work on the case,” Anderson said. “The FBI got involved in July upon the announcement of Operation Legend, and they were able to do some additional work to put us in the position of filing the document we filed.”
Anderson said it is up to the state to file murder charges against Talamantes-Romero. Vigil’s husband credited the operation this week, speaking of his late wife. “Every time I open the garage door and stand in the driveway, I hear that horn,” Vigil said. “I see her slumped in the seat.”
Anderson said he expects to see continued progress. “More than anything, I hope to see reduction in violent crime and people feeling safer living and working in the city,” Anderson said.
The 35 agents will remain here until at least the end of September. At that point, they will re-evaluate violent crime rates and stay longer if needed.
The operation also grants $10 million to the city to hire more officers, which Anderson said would help make sure crime stays down after federal agents leave. The city said the grant will go to the city council for approval.
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