47 arrested, more than 100 guns seized in Pleasant Grove in 90-day law-enforcement push

“Operation Pegasus” involved Dallas police, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the FBI.

A collaborative effort to curb gun violence in Pleasant Grove resulted in at least 47 arrests and the seizure of hundreds of firearms over the course of 90 days, law enforcement officials say.

Operation Pegasus involved more than 117 undercover efforts and “strategic enforcement,” Dallas, state and federal officials announced Thursday.

Dallas Police Chief Eddie García said the Pleasant Grove area of southeast Dallas was chosen because it has a high concentration of violent crime.

He said Dallas police were “all in” when the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives approached the department about the collaborative effort, which included the Texas Department of Public Safety and the FBI.

“We know that it’s a few individuals that are causing the majority of the crime,” García said. “And in order for the vast majority of our residents that live in Pleasant Grove that live in fear to live their lives without these criminals is very, very important.”

The announcement of the operation’s results came as the police chief has overseen a strategy that aims to reduce violent crime after two years of increased homicides.

On Monday, he marked the end of the initial 90-day implementation of the strategy’s first phase, which focused on increasing patrol resources in high-crime areas, relying on raising police visibility and targeting offenders. The plan also focuses on dealing with drug houses and tackling poverty as a root cause of violent offenses.

Police and city officials voiced confidence in the plan this week, noting there had been fewer murders and robberies across Dallas during the first half of the year, though aggravated assaults were slightly higher than in 2020.

Operation Pegasus is one of multiple interagency efforts that have taken place since García’s arrival about seven months ago.

“The collaboration that I’ve seen with our state and federal partners is the best that I have experienced in nearly 30 years of law enforcement in two different cities and in two different states,” García said Thursday.

U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Prerak Shah said firearm offenders are about 50% more likely to revert to criminal behavior than non-firearm offenders.

He said officials tracked every shooting and recovery of illegal weapons over the last several months to map where to focus Operation Pegasus’ enforcement efforts.

One of the operation’s recent busts in Pleasant Grove resulted in the seizure of 14 firearms, bulk quantities of cocaine and about $1.8 million in cash stored in trash bags in a house, officials said. Another found several armed drug traffickers dealing cocaine and meth at a local strip mall.

García said strengthening networks within communities is the next phase of his crime-reduction plan.

“We need to look at the outside factors,” he said. “What environmental design can we do? Can we bring in the city attorney’s office and community prosecutors to work and hold landlords and individuals responsible?”

He said landlords must be held accountable for patterns of conduct on their properties.

“So that is part of the plan,” he said. “... There are places in the city of Dallas where we have gone multiple times to go to break up drug houses, as an example.”

ATF Dallas Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey Boshek said Operation Pegasus is “unlike any going on across the United States right now.”

He pointed to García’s involvement in the operation as an example of the opportunity for federal agencies to significantly engage with police and “have a true effect on violent crime here in Dallas.”

Boshek said he “absolutely believes” there will be further joint operations among federal, state and local law enforcement as momentum continues through the agencies’ partnerships.

“There’s only going to be more,” Boshek said.

“I think we’re all in,” he added. “We’re meeting more now with the DPD partners, from the chief down, at every level, to make sure that it’s not just from a top-down. These are efforts that are happening in every district in Dallas.”

Kelli Smith, Staff Writer. Kelli covers breaking news and public safety at The Dallas Morning News. She is a native of El Paso, Texas, and a recent graduate of the University of Notre Dame. Before joining staff, she reported for The Chicago Tribune and KTSM, the NBC affiliate in El Paso. @KelliSmithNews
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