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Operation Legend nets 328 in N. Ohio for gun crimes

More than 14,200 charged nationally in fiscal year 2020

The Department of Justice says it has charged more than 14,200 defendants, including 328 in the Northern District of Ohio, with federal firearms-related crimes during fiscal year 2020.

U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman of the Northern Ohio District, Cleveland, said Operation Legend has been able to hold accountable those locally who illegally possess or buy a firearm.

Federal firearms cases have been a department priority since November 2019 when Attorney General William Barr announced his commitment to investigating, prosecuting and combating gun crimes as a critical part of his anti-violent crime strategy.

“The No. 1 priority of government is to keep its citizens safe,” Barr stated in a news release. “Violating federal firearms laws is a serious crime and offenders face serious consequences.”

Notable federal firearms prosecutions from the past fiscal year include:

• Some 11 Warren residents were part of a federal drug sweep conducted in September. The multi-count federal indictment details a broad range of criminal activity, including the charges of felons in possession of a firearm and ammunition, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime;

• As part of that same September drug sweep, William L. Stubbs, 41, of Youngstown and E.C. Robinson, 55, of Sharon, Pa., were charged in a nine-count indictment that included a charge of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime;

• The conviction of Sydney Mullens, 37, of Conneaut in July. Mullens pleaded guilty to one count of felon in possession of a firearm in July and was sentenced before Judge James S. Gwin to 100 months imprisonment.

During a search of the vehicle that Mullens was operating, police officers found in her possession a semiautomatic shotgun and three lever-action rifles. Mullens was prohibited from possessing a firearm due to a previous felony burglary conviction in 2008. Mullens also previously had been convicted of burglary and assault of a peace officer.

In Cleveland, in response to the rise in violent crime involving drug and firearms offenses, Operation Legend was announced July 29.

Elsewhere, Operation Red-Zone was launched in various cities in the Northern District over the Labor Day holiday weekend, including in Youngstown, to help prevent and prosecute violent crime involving firearms.

“Each and every illegal firearm we can remove from the hands of a criminal helps to reduce violent crime and makes our communities throughout Northern Ohio safer,” Herdman stated in a news release.

Under federal law, it is illegal to possess a firearm if you fall into one of nine prohibited categories, including being a convicted felon, illegal alien or unlawful user of a controlled substance. Further, it is unlawful to possess a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking offense or violent crime.

It is also illegal to purchase — or even to attempt to purchase illegally — firearms if the buyer is a prohibited person or illegally purchasing a firearm on behalf of others. Lying on ATF Form 4473, which is used to lawfully purchase a firearm, is also a federal offense.

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