AG Barr, officials highlight Operation Legend efforts in Albuquerque

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Attorney General William Barr and discussed the efforts behind Operation Legend at a law enforcement roundtable in Albuquerque on Wednesday, Oct. 14. Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales, District of New Mexico U.S. Attorney John Anderson, and Deputy Director of the FBI David Bowdich were also in attendance.

During the roundtable, the federal government called out the City of Albuquerque for not taking enough initiative to fight violent crime in the city, starting with not accepting the $10-million grant given to them to hire 40 new officers.

“The city has not yet signed and accepted that award, and as a result the city is no closer to having those additional 40 officers. I can say I’m disappointed by this continued inaction on the part of the city,” said U.S. for the District Attorney of New Mexico, John C. Anderson.

In September, Albuquerque’s city council voted to accept the money despite concerns that the grant would require the city to take a harder line on illegal immigration. The grant allows the feds to make sure officer-applicants are legally allowed to work in the U.S.

Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales says his office recently added 40 new deputies, but would gladly take 40 more. “If at some point the city doesn’t want the more people, we will gladly take them,” said Sheriff Gonzales.

The mayor’s office sent out a release claiming the Attorney General and the U.S. Attorney gave misleading statements about the grant funding. The mayor says the feds told them they can’t submit paperwork for the grant until Oct. 15.

Operation Legend is a federal initiative to stop violent crime and led to an increase of federal agents in Albuquerque. The operation started in early July in Kansas City and has been expanded to include Albuquerque, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Memphis, and Indianapolis.

In Albuquerque, New Mexico 113 defendants have been charged with federal crimes. These crimes include the following:

  • 47 defendants have been charged with narcotics-related offenses
  • 56 defendants have been charged with firearms-related offenses
  • 10 defendants have been charged with other violent crimes

The Department of Justice reports that since the start of Operation Legend in July 2020 and its expansion to nine cities across the country, there have been more than 5,000 arrests. Of those arrests, about 247 have been for homicide, over 2,000 firearms have been seized in addition to the seizure of nearly 22 kilos of heroin, over 15 kilos of fentanyl, more than 130 kilos of methamphetamine, over 28 kilos of cocaine and more than $7.3 million in drug proceeds.

Of those approximately 5,000 arrests, 1,057 have been charged with federal offenses. Around 568 of those defendants have been charged with firearms offenses with around 411 being charged with drug-related crimes. Those remaining have been charged with various offenses.

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