DOJ Announces First Federal Arrests in Chicago Under ‘Operation Legend’

By Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.
July 25, 2020Updated: July 26, 2020

Three people were federally charged last week with offenses related to illegally possessing guns or ammunition in Chicago—the first arrests made in the city in connection with the Justice Department’s (DOJ) “Operation Legend,” officials said.

The arrests followed the Trump administration’s announcement on July 22 the expansion of the department’s program aimed to reduce violent crimes in 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 started 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 July 21 by federal and local law enforcement officers for allegedly possessing a loaded handgun containing 10 rounds of ammunition, including 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 July 22, federal and local law enforcement officers arrested Darryl Phillips, 22, for allegedly possessing a machine gun 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 a device that transforms a semi-automatic gun into one that can automatically fire more than one shot without manually reloading, the criminal complaint stated.

Chicago police arrested Darryl Collins, 30, on July 22 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 aren’t 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 10 years in federal prison.

The DOJ said on July 22 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 homicides 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, Detroit, and Milwaukee.