MILWAUKEE — The Department of Justice has charged 26 people allegedly involved in drug trafficking in the Milwaukee area, Attorney General William Barr announced during a visit to the city on Tuesday.
The arrests and subsequent charges are a part of 'Operation Legend,' which tasked dozens of federal agents with cracking down on crime in large cities across the Midwest.
The Attorney General, side-by-side with Matthew Krueger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, announced that the 26 are suspects are involved in a 'violent drug-trafficking organization' that smuggled kilograms of cocaine and marijuana from California to be sold in the Milwaukee area.
The profits from those drugs were then shipped back to California using the U.S. Postal Service, according to Barr.
According to a criminal complaint, aspects of the case have been under investigation since 2018, and apparently has since been absorbed into Operation Legend.
The AG explained in a release that the suspects include Louis R. Perez III, also known as “Eight Ball,” who is suspected to be the leader of the Mexican Posse gang, a nationwide drug trafficking organization, according to Barr.
Other suspected members of the Mexican Posse were also charged and arrested, including Manuel Soto and Antonio Rodriguez, who both allegedly sold drugs in the Milwaukee area.
Two California-based suspects, identified as Julian Sanchez and Miguel Sarabia, are alleged to have supplied the drugs for distribution from California.
Federal agents part of Operation Legend executed search warrants on the suspects on Sept. 22. Twenty-one of those 26 people are in custody.
During Tuesday's operation, agents in both Wisconsin and California confiscated 33 firearms, including a gun stolen from Milwaukee police, according to Barr. The confiscated stash also includes 700 grams of heroin from one location, and further heroin, cocaine and marijuana from other locations. Agents also found $170,000.
All defendants are charged in a conspiracy to distribute at least 5 kilograms of cocaine or 1000 kilograms of marijuana, according to a criminal complaint from the DOJ. If convicted, they face a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and up to life in prison. Other suspects are charged in a conspiracy to launder money.
Since Operation Legend began, a total of 47 people have been charged in the Milwaukee area as part of the operation. Of those, 24 have been charged with narcotics-related crimes, 19 with firearms-related offenses and four charged with 'other violent crimes,' according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Agents from several departments were involved in the operation, including the DEA, Wisconsin DOJ's Division of Criminal Investigations, the IRS' Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Office, the Milwaukee Police Department and the Greenfield Police Department.