Attorney General William Barr said Wednesday that federal agents helped make 1,485 arrests as part of the nine-city anti-violent-crime Operation Legend.
Barr said 1,000 state fugitives were arrested during the operation and 200 people face federal charges, many of them for illegal guns.
The attorney general detailed the figures at a press conference in Kansas City, Missouri, where the namesake of the operation, four-year-old LeGend Taliferro, was shot dead while sleeping in his bed on June 29.
The anti-crime initiative deploys federal help to bolster local officers fighting a spike in violent crime, especially after anti-police brutality protests over the Minnesota police killing of George Floyd in May.
President Trump ordered federal agents into Chicago and Albuquerque in July to address a surge in murders. Chicago’s Democratic Mayor Lori Lightfoot initially vowed to resist the effort, but ultimately acquiesced.
The operation coincided with anti-riot deployments to Portland, Ore., but Barr did not offer details on arrests there.
Operation Legend was expanded to Cleveland, Detroit and Milwaukee on July 29, to St. Louis, Mo., and Memphis, Tenn., on Aug. 6, and to Indianapolis on Aug. 14.
The most federal charges are in Chicago, with 61 cases. In Albuquerque there are 32 federal cases, in Cleveland there are 32, in Detroit there are 22 and in St. Louis there are 15.
Barr said federal charges can put away violent criminals for longer periods of time. He slammed what he said are oftentimes soft penalties in local cases.
“In far too many states, the sentences are too lenient and do not incapacitate these violent criminals long enough and do not provide a deterrent,” Barr said. “Criminals know that. They know that the federal system means business and we’re putting them out of business.”
Barr distinguished between tough enforcement of laws against small-scale drug dealing and those against violent crime.
“I think what people refer to as mass incarceration really refers to the harsh long sentences for minor drug distribution or small amounts of drug distribution, which led to a very substantial increase in the prison population,” he said. “I’m not talking about that now. I’m talking about getting shooters off the street.”
Barr, who also was attorney general under President George HW Bush, said, “What’s happening these days in the country is we’re going back to some of the old practices we followed in the 60s and 70s, where there’s revolving-door justice and people are not being held they’re not being held before trial when they’re dangerous. They’re not being sentenced to prison even though they’re violent.”
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