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Feds charge 22 with gun crimes, carjackings in Detroit crackdown

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit — Federal officials announced Wednesday they've charged 22 people with felonies in Detroit under Operation Legend, a multi-jurisdictional initiative launched last month to fight violent crime.

The federal charges include two people charged with carjacking, 14 charged with being felons in possession of firearms, and two charged with receiving firearms while under indictment.

Detroit U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider on July 29 announced Operation Legend, an expansion of an earlier local/federal program that dispatched 19 permanent U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Explosives and Firearms agents to Detroit, and 30-plus other ATF and FBI agents from across the country for temporary detail work.

US Attorney General William Barr, center, stands with Detroit Police Chief James Craig, second from left, before boarding an ARMY helicopter to tour Detroit from the air during his visit to the city on Tuesday, August 18, 2020.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr spent several hours Tuesday with Detroit police chief James Craig, getting an update on the new initiative before touring the city in a U.S. Army helicopter. 

"I’m here to see how it’s working," Barr told The Detroit News during his visit. "It's very early on, but I wanted to see how the chief was doing; what his experience has been with it, and how we can improve things ... I think they’ve made excellent progress."

Schneider echoed Barr's statement in a press release Wednesday announcing the early results of the initiative.

"Operation Legend is working," he said. "The additional federal agents in Detroit have already taken high-powered assault rifles off our streets and have put armed drug dealers behind bars. If these federal agents had not come to Detroit, these violent criminals would still be terrorizing our neighborhoods."

Craig agreed, calling the collaboration "a force multiplier."

"I'm very appreciative of this collaborative relationship," Craig said Wednesday. "I'm excited about the early outcome, and we think as we continue, we'll start seeing a major impact on reducing violence."

Detroit, like several big cities nationwide, has seen a spike in violence this year. Homicides are up 25% and nonfatal shootings up 51% over the same period in 2019, though overall crime is down 

Operation Legend is an extension of Operation Relentless Pursuit, an initiative

Barr announced last year. Detroit was one of seven cities to receive part of the  $71 million federal commitment to help local police fight drug trafficking, street gangs and other violent crime.

Other cities in the program are Albuquerque, Chicago, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Memphis and St. Louis.

Operation Legend is named after four-year-old LeGend Taliferro, who was fatally shot June 29 while sleeping in his Kansas City home.

ghunter@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2134

Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN