From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
A store calling itself Fearless Distributing opened early last year on an out-of-the-way street in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood, offering designer clothes, athletic shoes, jewelry and drug paraphernalia.
Those working behind the counter, however, weren’t interested in selling anything.
They were undercover agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives running a storefront sting aimed at busting criminal operations in the city by purchasing drugs and guns from felons.
But the effort to date has not snared any major dealers or taken down a gang. Instead, it resulted in a string of mistakes and failures, including an ATF military-style machine gun landing on the streets of Milwaukee and the agency having $35,000 in merchandise stolen from its store, a Journal Sentinel investigation has found.
The ATF set up a fake distributing company to sell guns and do a “sting”. Yet somehow, all they managed to do was FUBAR everything. This should come as no surprise.
When the 10-month operation was shut down after the burglary, agents and Milwaukee police officers who participated in the sting cleared out the store but left behind a sensitive document that listed names, vehicles and phone numbers of undercover agents.
And the agency remains locked in a battle with the building’s owner, who says he is owed about $15,000 because of utility bills, holes in the walls, broken doors and damage from an overflowing toilet.
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.
And it gets even worse:
Residents of the area, tucked between N. Humboldt Blvd. and the Milwaukee River, are angry the ATF secretly drew drug dealers and gun-toting felons to their neighborhood, which is rallying to improve.
The ATF was out there again creating crimes and ruining neighborhoods.
In Milwaukee, agents located Fearless Distributing in a neighborhood where aggravated assaults had been declining since at least 2008, according to an analysis by the Journal Sentinel relying on Milwaukee Police Department numbers.
Aggravated assaults within a mile radius of the storefront dropped to 109 last year from 193 in 2008. Homicides in the area ranged from zero to three per year during the last five years, far fewer than other crime-laden areas in the city.
And then it gets worse from there:
In September, an agent parked his Ford Explorer at the Alterra on N. Humboldt Blvd., about a half mile away, with three ATF guns stored in a metal box in the back.
About 3 p.m. Sept. 13, an Alterra employee spotted three men breaking into the Explorer. They stole three guns: a Smith & Wesson 9mm handgun, a Sig Sauer .40-caliber pistol and an M-4 .223-caliber fully automatic rifle. They also made off with ammunition and an ATF radio, according to a police report.
Yup, the ATF put an actual assault rifle – as in select fire, fully automatic M4 – on the streets, in a neighborhood that was improving until they got there.
One of the suspects hid the machine gun under a bed and took the handguns with him. He was questioned by police and refused to talk. He was released. No one has been charged in the burglary of the ATF guns, according to Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Karen Loebel. She declined to say if charges would be coming.
The ATF soon had one of its stolen guns back, however.
The very next day, according to court documents, 19-year-old Marquise Jones contacted agents at Fearless Distributing and sold the Sig Sauer – and another unrelated handgun – back to agents.
The price: $1,400.
But Jones would not be arrested for two months. And when he was, it was not for the theft. His name does not appear on the police reports related to the vehicle break-in. He was charged with having a stolen gun.
Meanwhile, the hunt for the machine gun and the other stolen handgun continues.
Yup, the ATF’s full-auto M4 is still out there, and they’re paying double price to get their own guns back. Clearly, though, we need to crack down on US citizens rights. Only the cops should have guns… and the criminals they give guns to.
Mike Hashimoto at the Dallas Morning News asks “Is it a good idea to give the ATF even more to do?” Mike, you seem like a very good guy, but check your premise really quick and ask “Is it a good idea to have an ATF at all?”
The ATF has always been an agency full of jack-booted thugs. Remember the racist ATF “Good Ol’ Boys Roundup” that ran for decades?
This is the same agency that on their good days ruled shoe strings are machineguns and that Chore Boy pads are NFA firearms. They also throw parties when they get rules passed that infringe on citizens’ rights.
Why not just Boot the ATF entirely?
Update: Not really an update, more of a post-script, but I figured I’d be remiss if I didn’t note there are a few good ATF agents. John Dodson, Vince Celafu, and other whistleblowers are good guys. I’ve met an ATF agent or two who are good people, though they’re usually on the licensing side of the house rather than the legal decision/enforcement side. The institution itself is set up to tax and control things that aren’t illegal (and two of which are specifically named in the Constitution’s amendments), and that contributes to a corporate culture that is every bit as prone to tyrannical action as a “free speech bureau” that exists to control, regulate, and deny speech would be.