ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- Attorney General William Barr was in St. Louis on Thursday to talk with the heads of federal law enforcement agencies and the chiefs of police of St. Louis and St. Louis County about "Operation LeGend." That's the federal initiative that began in July targeting a rise in violent crime in some of the country's major cities.
"In the wake of the pandemic and what was happening in Minneapolis, we started seeing violent crime going up in a number of our major cities. And this was putting additional pressure on police departments that were already hard pressed," said Barr.
Operation LeGend was first launched first in Kansas City in July and is named for 4-year old LeGend Taliferro who was hit by gunfire and killed while he was asleep in bed.
St. Louis is one of nine cities benefiting from some of the 1,000 federal agents who are helping local police departments solve violent crimes and lock up some of the most dangerous criminals.
Since St. Louis was added to the program in early August, Barr said the 124 agents assigned to St. Louis, in conjunction with police, have made 650 arrests. He also said 219 guns have been seized and 274 suspects have been charged with federal crimes.
"Never before have we prosecuted so many cases in such a short amount of time," said Jeff Jensen, U.S. Attorney for Eastern Missouri.
Of the nine cities involved with Operation Legend, St. Louis has seen the most suspects charged federally, with 274. Chicago had 176 followed by Kansas City with 136.
In Albuquerque, 113 were charged federally, 96 in Detroit, 94 in Cleveland, 65 in Indianapolis, 54 in Milwaukee and 51 in Memphis.
Nationally, the initiative has led to more than 5,000 arrests, including approximately 274 for homicide.
"The St. Louis Police Department is extremely appreciative for this much needed assistance provided by Operation Legend," said Chief John Hayden of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.
According to the Justice Department, in the two months after the start of Operation Legend, as compared to the previous two months, robberies dropped 6%, carjackings dropped by 13%, aggravated assaults with a firearm dropped 22% and homicides dropped 49%. However, for the year there have been 212 homicides to day, which is an increase of 32% from this time last year when the city had recorded 161 homicides.