….. and it gets worse, much worse. These are the people who want to “control” your capacity to own weapons? Two MUST READ articles. First the Fox Summary:
WASHINGTON – Several members of Congress are calling for an investigation into an embarrassing series of blunders made by the Milwaukee arm of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives after a newspaper reported this week that the agency conducted a months-long undercover operation that cost taxpayers thousands of dollars and netted very few results.
“I am intent on getting to the bottom of the botched ATF sting in Milwaukee,” Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., told FoxNews.com Thursday night.
Sensenbrenner along with Sen. Charles Grassley, and Reps. Darrell Issa and Robert Goodlatte, have sent a letter to Acting ATF Director Todd Jones asking the agency to look into allegations reported in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The newspaper claims that the agency conducted a deeply flawed sting operation that resulted in a still-missing machine gun being taken from an agent’s car, thousands of taxpayer dollars being lost in merchandise and angry residents saying that ATF officials reintroduced crime into their neighborhood. The operation comes on the heels of the botched Operation Fast and Furious anti-gun trafficking program.
“The mismanaged operation included numerous careless and costly mistakes,” Sensenbrenner told FoxNews.com in a written statement. “Along with my colleagues, I am asking the ATF what happened in Milwaukee and who will be held accountable. I want to know how these glaring blunders could happen. How did ATF—for the second time that we know of—put guns in the hands of dangerous criminals?”
According to the newspaper, the ATF created a phony storefront, named it Fearless Distributing, staffed it with undercover agents and created a Facebook page that lured people to the location all under the guise of selling clothes and shoes. The ATF agents handed out business cards with a logo similar to the one from the movie “The Expendables” with the words “buy, sell or trade” on them. Once the store was up and running, agents spread the word that Fearless Distributing was willing to buy guns and drugs.
Part of the problem, the newspaper alleges, is that agents spent taxpayer money to buy guns from people at twice the street value. One ATF agent paid more than $1,200 for a gun that usually sells for $400-$700. (link)
The Full Milwaukee Story: 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.
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.
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. The mistakes by agents are troubling and suggest a lack of planning and oversight, according to veterans of the ATF, who learned about the operation from the Journal Sentinel. The newspaper combed through police reports, court documents, social media and materials left behind by the ATF, all of which provide a rare view inside an undercover federal operation.
“I have never heard of those kinds of problems in an operation,” said Michael Bouchard, who retired five years ago as assistant director for field operations for the agency. “Sure, small bits and pieces, but that many in one case? I have never heard of anything like that.”
The agency has been on the defensive in recent years following the ill-fated Fast and Furious operation, run out of Arizona, where agents allowed sales of more than 2,000 guns to gun traffickers but then failed to keep track of most of them. Many turned up at crime scenes in Mexico, including two at the site where a U.S. border guard was killed.
And now, in the wake of the school shooting in Connecticut, as President Barack Obama considers new restrictions on guns, the agency is poised to take on additional responsibilities.
The ATF has run storefront stings in other cities, holding news conferences trumpeting results and showing off the guns and drugs seized. In Milwaukee, the operation has been kept quiet.
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.
Federal authorities said they could not say much about the Milwaukee operation because court cases have not been resolved and the ATF is still seeking suspects. (continue reading)