Operation Legend results in 61 Chicago arrests: feds

Federal authorities have arrested 61 people in Chicago so far in Operation Legend, an ongoing initiative focused on arresting people for gun and drug offenses.

More than 30 defendants face a gun charges while more than 25 defendants face drug trafficking charges, U.S. Attorney John R. Lausch, Jr. said in a statement.

As part of Operation Legend, the Department of Justice lent Chicago extra resources from the FBI, DEA, ATF, and U.S. Marshals Service, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security.

Seized weapons in Chicago during Operation Legend | U.S. Attorney’s Office

“The substantial resources under Operation Legend have assisted our office in prosecuting firearm and drug trafficking offenses, which drive the unacceptable level of violent crime in Chicago,” Lausch said.

Going undercover in late July, a special agent with ATF tracked down four time convicted felon Benjamin Cortez-Gomez known on the streets as Bennie Blanco.

ATF agents say he travelled to Indianapolis over the course of several months, obtaining guns, using Facebook and Snapchat to sell them. Agents went in for the arrest on July 27.

Once they popped the trunk of his car, they say they recovered seven illegal weapons.

Cortez-Gomez was living at a residence in the 6100 block of South Carpenter, the same block where 14-year old Vernado Jones was shot and killed on July 4.

CPD released a video where you see four males walk up and start shooting. 

It’s the first major killing that was targeted by the FBI in Chicago with additional federal resources from Operation Legend. 

They’ve offered $25,000 to solve it.

Jones was not the intended target.

“Witnesses in this case cannot identify the shooters so detectives can go do their job,” said Deputy Chief of Detective Brendan Dennihan.

Seized weapons in Chicago during Operation Legend | U.S. Attorney’s Office

The federal cases in Chicago include:

  • A convicted felon charged with illegally possessing ammunition that had been loaded in a homemade gun, also known as a “ghost gun.” The gun allegedly discharged when Chicago police officers pursued the defendant and arrested him, prosecutors said.
  • Someone charged with a gun offense after allegedly driving from Chicago to Indiana, purchasing seven guns and transporting the guns back to Chicago to allegedly sell them.
  • A convicted felon charged with illegal possession of a firearm and using a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime after ATF agents found him in a hotel room in downtown Chicago with a homemade gun, bullets, 17.5 kilograms of marijuana and $1,400 in cash, prosecutors said.
  • A Chicago resident charged with illegally possessing a machinegun. The semiautomatic handgun was equipped with an auto-sear device, also known as a “switch,” that made it capable of automatically shooting more than one shot without manually reloading, prosecutors said.
  • A Chicago man charged with dealing firearms without a license for allegedly selling three guns, including a rifle, to a confidential source who was cooperating with law enforcement.

Nationwide, Operation Legend has resulted in more than 1,000 arrests, prosecutors said.

“Operation legend is the heart of the federal government’s response to upturn violent crime. The mission is to take violent offenders off the streets before they can claim more victims,” said Barr. 

FOX 32 News contributed to this report.