Operation Legend: Case of the Day

Each weekday, the Department of Justice will highlight a case that has resulted from Operation Legend.  Today’s case is out of the District of New Mexico.  Operation Legend launched in Albuquerque on July 22, 2020, in response to the city facing increased homicide and non-fatal shooting rates.

United States vs. Eugene Samuel Ouzts III

“This case illustrates the need for our persistence and vigilance in the pursuit of justice,” said U.S. Attorney John Anderson for the District of New Mexico.  “The perpetrators of dangerous crimes in Albuquerque and across the country have shown that they will take advantage of any crack they perceive in the system. We cannot and will not let down our guard.”

Eugene Samuel Ouzts III was charged in federal court in New Mexico on Sept. 1, 2020, with possession with intent to distribute 100 grams and more of heroin; possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking; and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

According to the charging document, on Aug. 23, 2020, local law enforcement conducted a traffic stop of a vehicle allegedly connected to an aggravated assault.  Ouzts was identified as the driver of the vehicle, and upon being stopped, admitted to law enforcement that there was a firearm in the vehicle and that he was a convicted felon.  Ouzts’ vehicle was then impounded pending a search warrant.

On Aug. 30, during a search of Ouzts’ vehicle, law enforcement seized a loaded silver Taurus PT 145 Pro pistol with one cartridge in the chamber and three clear baggies containing more than 169 grams of heroin. 

It is alleged that while Ouzts’ vehicle was impounded between Aug. 23 and Aug. 30, Ouzts attempted to break into his vehicle at the impound lot and attempted to bribe employees in an attempt to get into his vehicle to retrieve the illicit drugs and firearm.

Because of a previous felony conviction punishable by more than one year in prison, Ouzts is prohibited from possessing firearms.

The details contained in the charging document are allegations.  The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Background on Operation Legend
President Trump promised to assist America’s cities that have been plagued by violence.  In July, Attorney General William P. Barr announced the launch of Operation Legend, 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 violent crime in cities across America that were experiencing an uptick in violence.  Operation Legend is named after four-year-old LeGend Taliferro, who was shot and killed on June 29th in Kansas City, Missouri, while asleep in his home.

Since its inception, Operation Legend has yielded more than 2000 local, state, and federal arrests, with more than 592 defendants charged with federal crimes.

Operation Legend was launched in Kansas City, Mo., on July 8, 2020, and expanded to Chicago and Albuquerque on July 22, 2020, to Cleveland, Detroit, and Milwaukee on July 29, 2020, to St. Louis and Memphis on Aug. 6, 2020, and to Indianapolis on Aug. 14, 2020.  As part of Operation Legend, Attorney General Barr has directed federal agents from the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, DEA and ATF to surge resources to these cities to help state and local officials fighting violent crime.  The Department of Homeland Security is also contributing agents to these efforts in St. Louis.

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