MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Attorney General William Barr gave an update on Operation Legend while in Memphis speaking with local police on Wednesday.
Since its launch in July 2020, Operation Legend has led to nearly 5,500 arrests nationwide. More than 2,000 guns have been seized along with drugs and $7.3 million from drug proceeds.
The Department of Justice expanded the operation to Memphis in August 2020, telling the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Marshals and other federal agents to work with local law enforcement on a crackdown.
Since then, federal agents have helped solve 66 homicides. Sixty-four people have been charged federal crimes: 35 drug related, 16 firearm related and 13 with other violent crimes.
This comes as Memphis records at least 220 murders this year so far – a 50% increase over last year.
Barr acknowledged the country has seen an uptick in crime, placing some of the blame on the pandemic.
“Part of the reason for that is COVID,” Barr said. “COVID has had an impact and I think another reason may be the demonization of our police officers maybe in a community less willing to help and so forth.”
Bar said law enforcement cannot be the only solution to crime. He said it must provide the foundation.
“The foundation for social progress is peace and the enforcement of the laws which is what our mission is,” Barr said.
Memphis is one of nine cities where Operation Legend has been implemented. Federal teams working with local officers. The means 96 additional federal agents, and more than $9.5 million put into the Bluff City.
After Barr’s speech, at least two protesters were taken into custody by police. One of them, Hunter Demster, was arrested after allegedly blocking traffic and “causing an unneccessary disturbance,” police said.
He was charged with inciting a riot, obstructing highway/passageway, disorderly conduct and disorderly conduct.
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