Alibi V.29 No.36 • Sept 3-9, 2020

New Mexico News

Operation Legend Has Less Than Legendary Results

Locals underwhelmed by progress of federal program

Operation Legend stats
This image, which was uploaded in all seriousness, included text which read “Operation Legend/Grip-Op putting up HUGE numbers for Southeast Albuquerque!”

At the end of July, Alibi staff writer Robin Babb asked the questions of Operation Legend most of us were too afraid to consider. Is this part of a much larger scale program from President Trump in an attempt to undermine citizens’ freedom and safety, with the guise of civil protection masking it? Or were these federal law enforcement officers genuinely here to help? Well, thankfully the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department Twitter account was kind enough to provide citizens with an update on the work done so far in Southeast Albuquerque, which Weekly Alibi felt would be worth talking about.

Let’s get the congratulatory issues out of the way. In total there have been 22 arrests made to date. Of those arrests 14 were felony-related, with the other eight being misdemeanors. For those unfamiliar with the differences between the two categories, they break down to an almost easy formula. Is the crime worth jail time of over a year? Felony. Under a year? Misdemeanor. Murder, arson, rape and other crimes come with heftier sentences, so in that sense, good job on the 14 made in a month. Misdemeanors are things like shoplifting, drug possession, public intoxication, speeding or DUI/DWIs. Considering the total number of DWI arrests made in 2018 was 10,205, the number becomes dramatically less impressive. Those are rookie numbers on catching drunk drivers. Maybe Operation Legend doesn’t work nights. Included are nine felony warrants cleared, 10 new felony charges, 14 misdemeanor warrants cleared, 15 new misdemeanor charges and a partridge in a pear tree.

The federal agents are here to clear the backlog of cases and help reduce gun violence, which they’re doing. What else did they accomplish? Well, the rest of the numbers practically speak for themselves. For example, they seized two guns. That’s right. Two. They also recovered two stolen guns. Whether those guns are related isn’t made abundantly clear by the fifth-grade level Photoshop picture Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office uploaded Aug. 30 on Twitter, but if it helps you, you can pretend those guns are at least distant cousins, maybe twice removed. Twenty-two arrests and four new guns. What else have they got for us?

One stolen vehicle recovered. This is huge. Someone was going to be left using ART instead of their ’93 Toyota Camry, but now they have it back. How does that compare to normal recovery rates? Well, according to Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association (RMIIA), the total number of car thefts in New Mexico for 2016 was 10,011. It’s safe to say they still have a few more to find.

Two cases were adopted by the feds, which means BCSO won’t have to deal with them. But I’m sure Operation Legend officers will love them just as much regardless of the adoption. Additionally, six vehicles fled. What that stat indicates is unclear, other than they saw cars that didn’t want to be in that area anymore, obviously. But, considering the last time federal agents were driving around “dangerous” cities resulted in people being abducted into unmarked cars, it’s safe to say maybe the drivers were hedging their bets in getting away from said cars. It wasn’t stated whether those cars are still fleeing, or have finally stopped to take a rest.

Now for the big ones. Finally, the war on drugs can have the heavy hitters step up to the plate to do some real damage to the drug problem in this city. First off was the 3.23 ounces of marijuana that was seized by Operation Legend. While only casual experts in the field of “smoking,” Weekly Alibi didn’t have a hard and fast consensus of how much weed should go in one joint, but aggregate studies place it somewhere between 0.3 and 0.6 grams, which, when math is applied, comes out to roughly 203 joints. College parties and snack drawers have never been safer from the dangers of the “Devil’s Lettuce.”

Additionally, 1.32 ounces of methamphetamines were seized. That comes out to roughly 35 grams, which is good news that it’s gone. It’s a rough drug and it’s better that it’s off the streets. Does it compare to one stolen vehicle recovered? That’s a tough call. We’ll give that a soft checkmark next to “job well done.”

One gram of cocaine. Yes, a single gram. Whether this came from a raid or they found it near a 7-11 dumpster wasn’t outlined in the report, but we question if this is worthy of the title “HUGE numbers.” Had it been an eight ball, then we have a story on our hands. One gram? That’s just date night ruined.

Six Xanax pills were seized. We have to assume they were illegally owned Xanax, otherwise there is someone out there having a really rough week. Additionally, five Suboxone strips were seized. To be fair, this is Trump’s government, so considering something to be bigger and more impressive than it is has been kind of the M.O. since day one. At this point, the drug pull looks like they caught a big college party more than anything.

Additionally, six business contacts were made, as well as six person contacts and 36 traffic stops. There’s definitely a snarky way to comment on this, but ultimately, is it worth it?

As reported by KOB, Operation Legend is part of a $10 million grant to combat violent crime in the city. Maybe the early numbers are just weak. Maybe they’ll be bigger in other parts of the city. Who knows? The Northeast Heights might be a hotbed of cocaine use that none of us expected and federal officers will come rolling out of a house with a kilo of that iconic white powder and the town will all cheer in unison that, finally, these terrible drugs are off our streets.

Mathematically though? It’s not looking great. Our reader poll in July said that 84 percent didn’t feel federal intervention in Albuquerque was necessary. At the end of the day, we all want to see a reduction in gun violence. Thankfully, Operation Legend has gotten four guns off the street so far. At this rate gun violence in the city will be solved in a matter of years!