MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Operation Legend put federal agents from multiple agencies in the same building with local law enforcement to target criminals.
US Attorney Michael Dunavant’s days as US Attorney for the western district of Tennessee are winding down, and he spoke about Operation Legend, saying it was a success.
“Were it not for this operation, more lives would have been lost,” Dunavant said in an interview Wednesday.
Federal agents surged into Memphis as part of Operation Legend to work with local law enforcement to fight a sudden surge of violent crime. The program finished in Dec. and racked up more than 260 arrests for drugs, guns and carjackings in western Tennessee. Nationwide, 6,000 people were arrested, 467 for homicide; 91 of those were in Memphis.
“We are seeking maximum sentencing under these cases. These are the worst of the worst,” Dunavant said.
The year has seen a violent start in Memphis. Asked what he would tell people who said Operation Legend in Memphis was not a success, Dunavant said “we’d have more dead bodies in Memphis if it weren’t for this operation.”
“And I would tell you we did do something; 124 people were charged with federal offenses. There’s no parole in the federal system. They will do all the time in a federal prison.”
And, Dunavant said, they are not done. Twenty-four agents will remain, working with local law enforcement and multi-agency gang units.
“What you’re going to see is really a longer-term impact on this going into 2021,” he said. “I suspect you’ll see this again. It’ not the first time we’ve done it; it probably won’t be that last time we’ll do it.”
Nearly $2 million went to the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office and the Shelby County District Attorney’s office to help crime fighting efforts. The Memphis Police Department got nearly $10 million to hire new officers.
US Attorney Dunavant declined to talk about his plans into the future, once President-elect Joe Biden is sworn into office.
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