Barr says Operation Legend breaks Milwaukee drug ring; 26 face charges

Among those arrested is the current leader of a nationwide drug trafficking organization

U.S. Attorney General William Barr lauded the efforts of law enforcement officers in Operation Legend on Tuesday as new charges were brought against 26 people who were allegedly involved in a violent drug ring out of Milwaukee.

At an afternoon press conference, U.S. Attorney Matthew Krueger said state and local law enforcement officers arrested 21 of 26 suspects connected to the ring Tuesday morning.

Officers in California and Milwaukee and seized about 33 firearms, $170,000 in cash, marijuana, cocaine, and more than 700 grams of heroin during searches.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr arrives to speak with federal officials for a panel discussion on combatting human trafficking at the U.S. Attorney's Office on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, in Atlanta. 

U.S. Attorney General William Barr arrives to speak with federal officials for a panel discussion on combatting human trafficking at the U.S. Attorney's Office on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, in Atlanta.  (AP)

Among the defendants is Louis R. Perez III, an alleged Mexican Posse gang member who is believed to be the leader of the nationwide drug trafficking organization, according to the Justice Department. Several other Mexican Posse gang members were also charged and arrested.

Barr said the investigation into the ring was part of Operation Legend, a probe the U.S. Department of Justice launched this summer pairing federal agents and investigators with local and state police in nine U.S. cities, to address homicides and other violent crime.

The operation is named in honor of LeGend Taliferro, a four-year-old boy who was shot and killed in his family’s apartment while he slept early on the morning of June 29 in Kansas City. The operation was subsequently expanded to other major U.S. cities, including Chicago, Albuquerque, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Memphis, and Indianapolis.

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Since its launch in July 2020, Operation Legend has led to 3,500 arrests -- about 200 of which, were for homicide, according to federal prosecutors. Authorities have also seized more than 1,000 guns and various amounts of "hard drugs."

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Of the people arrested, more than 800 have been charged with federal offenses, more than 440 have been charged with firearms offenses and more than 300 have been charged with drug-related crimes.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.