The Justice Department (DOJ) announced that three people had been federally charged this week for offenses related to illegally possessing guns or ammunition in Chicago, Illinois—the first federal arrests made in the city in connection to the department’s “Operation Legend.”
The three arrests come after the Trump administration announced on Wednesday the expansion of the department’s program aimed at reducing violent crimes to Chicago and other cities around the nation. The operation, named after 4-year-old LeGend Taliferro, who was shot and killed while sleeping in his home, was first launched in Kansas City, Missouri, as part of Trump’s promise to assist cities that have have been hit by a recent string of violence.
Romeo Holloway, 21, was arrested on Tuesday night by federal and local law enforcement officers for allegedly possessing a loaded handgun containing ten rounds of live ammunition, which had a bullet in the chamber, according to a criminal complaint. He was charged with one count of illegal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
A few hours later on Wednesday morning, federal and local law enforcement officers arrested Darryl Phillips, 22, for allegedly possessing a machinegun while they were executing a court-authorized search warrant. During the search, authorities discovered a semiautomatic handgun in a bedroom on the property. Upon review, an Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) special agent determined that the firearm was equipped with an auto-sear device, also known as a “switch,” which transforms the firearm into a machinegun, allowing it to shot more than one shot without having to manually reload, the criminal complaint said.
Then on Wednesday afternoon, Chicago Police officers arrested Darryl Collins, 30, for allegedly possessing ammunition, which was found in a loaded handgun. He was charged with one count of illegal possession of ammunition by a convicted felon.
Both Collins and Holloway were previously convicted of criminal offenses and are not lawfully allowed to possess a firearm or ammunition, prosecutors say.
“Operation Legend has strengthened our efforts to apprehend and charge illegal gun offenders in Chicago,” U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois John R. Lausch, Jr. said in a statement.
“Under Operation Legend, we are working closer than ever with the Chicago Police Department, ATF, and other federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to arrest and prosecute individuals engaging in violent crime in the city.”
If convicted, the men face up to ten years in federal prison.
The DOJ said on Wednesday that more than 100 officers from the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, and ATF will be directed to augment existing joint federal, state, and local task forces investigating Chicago’s violent gangs, gun crime, and drug trafficking operations. Meanwhile, the U.S. Marshal Service and the Department of Homeland Security have also committed to sending about 100 agents each to support the operation.
Chicago is currently facing a significant increase in violent crime, with at least 414 people murdered this year—which is about a 50 percent increase compared to the same time last year, Trump said. Over the weekend of July 17, more than 60 people were shot in Chicago, where 14 were killed.
“This rampage of violence shocks the conscience of our nation and we will not stand by and watch it happen,” Trump said. “No mother should ever have to cradle her dead child in her arms simply because politicians refuse to do what is necessary to secure their neighborhood and to secure their city.”
The DOJ is also sending federal law enforcement agents to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and plans to further expand Operation Legend into Cleveland, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan; and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.