The PJ Tatler

Another Botched ATF Operation

Reporters John Diedrich and Raquel Rutledge of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published an excellent investigative report on the ATF’s latest fiasco of an undercover operation. Agents moved into a Milwaukee store early in 2012, along with Milwaukee police officers, to set up a “sting aimed at busting criminal operations in the city by purchasing drugs and guns from felons.”

The sting resulted in charges being filed against about 30 people, most for low-level drug sales and gun possession counts. But agents had the wrong person in at least three cases. In one, they charged a man who was in prison – as a result of an earlier ATF case – at the time agents said he was selling drugs to them.

Other cases reveal that the agency’s operation was paying such high prices that some defendants bought guns from stores such as Gander Mountain and sold them to the agents for a quick profit.

This project led by ATF’s Violent Crime Impact Team:

The agency launched the initiative in 2004 and quickly reported “enormous” success. Agency officials touted a drop in firearm-related homicides in pilot cities and credited the $35 million effort with helping local police departments solve other crimes.

But a U.S. Department of Justice Inspector General’s report two years later found no evidence that the teams reduced firearm crimes in the targeted areas. Authors of the report cited “inadequate direction” and “ineffective oversight” by the agency.

Worse, burglars made off with $35,000 in merchandise, and the ATF managed to put a fully-automatic machine gun on the street.

After clearing out, they “left behind a sensitive document that listed names, vehicles and phone numbers of undercover agents.”

The property owner says ATF owes him $15,000 for damages to property.

The report is worth reading in full. Then call your elected representatives and ask them to investigate the ATF now, because Obama’s plan is to enhance ATF powers in order to better harass law-abiding gun owners.