'Operation Legend' nets 26 people in connection to violent drug trafficking organization

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- U.S. Attorney General William Barr shared an update on "Operation Legend" at a news conference on Tuesday, Sept. 22 in Milwaukee. 

At the news conference, AG Barr announced charges against 26 defendants who allegedly operated a violent drug trafficking organization in Milwaukee, with ties to the Northern and Central Districts of California.

"Operation Legend," launched by the U.S. Department of Justice, is a sustained, systematic and coordinated law enforcement initiative across all federal law enforcement agencies working in conjunction with state and local law enforcement officials to fight the sudden surge of violent crime.

The DOJ said on Sept. 22, federal, state, and local law enforcement officers executed arrest and search warrants related to the operation. Twenty-one of the defendants are now in custody. Law enforcement officers also executed over two dozen search warrants in Wisconsin and California, resulting in the recovery of at least 33 firearms, including a stolen Milwaukee Police Department firearm and a firearm with an obliterated serial number.

As part of the operation, law enforcement also recovered over 700 grams of heroin from one location, as well as additional heroin, cocaine, and marijuana from other locations. Law enforcement also recovered approximately $170,000 in U.S. currency.

Outside of large busts like this one, Attorney General Barr says Operation Legend is having a direct impact on Milwaukee neighborhoods.

"We've seen a 27% drop in non-fatal shootings since the launch of OL, and while we're pleased with that, there is still a lot of work to be done."

The operation has had no impact on the murder rate, however. In fact, it's getting worse.

The Milwaukee County medical examiner tweeted Tuesday that they are on pace for 200 homicides this year, the most ever recorded.

Barr hopes Legend will start having an effect, but he says police can't do it alone.

"We also need to address the rest of the criminal justice system which are taking a weaker and weaker approach to dealing with violent offenders," he said.

PHOTO GALLERY

The following individuals were charged: 

1. Louis Rey Perez III, 23, Milwaukee, WI
2. Xina Yang, 22, Milwaukee, WI
3. Julian Sanchez, 24, Costa Mesa, CA 
4. Miguel Sarabia, 45, Norwalk, CA
5. Gabriel Matteson, 22, La Mirada, CA
6. Louis Rey Perez, Jr., 46, Milwaukee, WI
7. Mauel Soto, 28, Milwaukee, WI
8. Hauseng Yang, 18, Milwaukee, WI
9. Antonio Rodriguez, 21, Milwaukee, WI
10. Hector Arenas, 27, Milwaukee, WI
11. Luis F. Gomez, Jr., 19, Milwaukee, WI
12. Ivan J. Galan, 27, Milwaukee, WI
13. Jose A. Alvarado, 23, Milwaukee, WI
14. Esteban Reyes, 46, Milwaukee, WI
15. Kevin Taylor, 28, Milwaukee, WI
16. Ma Yang, 32, Milwaukee, WI
17. Mary Yang, 29, Milwaukee, WI
18. Jasmine L. Perez, 28, Milwaukee, WI
19. Michael Bub, 33, Milwaukee, WI
20. Chong Yang, 28, Milwaukee, WI
21. Michele M. Hart, 55, Milwaukee, WI
22. Mercedes Herbert Gonzalez, 29, Milwaukee, WI
23. Azia Yang, 18, Milwaukee, WI
24. Carina Rodriguez, 20, Milwaukee, WI
25. Ger Yang, 20, Milwaukee, WI
26. Shayla A. Knueppel, 24, Milwaukee, WI

Milwaukee is one of six cities currently involved in "Operation Legend," along with Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago, Kansas City and Albequerque.

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