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Tag: ATF

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Residents Endangered by Botched ATF Sting

atf badgeBy Editorial Board
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

A fake tattoo parlor in St. Louis set up down the street from the Boys and Girls Club, and use of a confidential informer with a troubled criminal history, help explain how the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives placed some of the city’s most vulnerable residents at risk — and seriously undermined its own integrity in the process.

St. Louis was part of the ATF’s Operation Hustle City, in which agents and police set up the Ink Pimp tattoo parlor at 2806 North Grand Boulevard in January 2013. Agents posed as outlaw bikers looking to buy guns to ship to California or Mexico, and serve as drug cash couriers.

All this occurred in the same area where hundreds of kids regularly attended classes and events on a campus that promised a safe environment. What were ATF agents and their bosses thinking? This appalling example of disregard deals another blow to citizen confidence in law enforcement at a time when federal agencies should be helping to restore public trust.

The Justice Department released a highly critical report last week of undercover ATF storefront operations aimed at getting illegal guns and drugs off the streets in St. Louis and four other cities. The report criticized the operations for inadequate oversight, accountability, training and planning, but did not recommend ending them.

The report said ATF should consolidate its expertise in running storefront operations and not proceed with such stings until agency directors agree they are properly designed and executed.

An agency that has existed in one form or another since 1886 shouldn’t need to be told to properly design and execute operations, especially ones that endanger the very lives of citizens they are supposed to protect. Having issued new directives to the ATF, the Justice Department will need to monitor for implementation.

Other Stories of Interest

Expensive Equipment Stolen from ATF Vehicle in Detroit

atf badgeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An undercover ATF vehicle was broken into and valuable equipment stolen in Detroit on Thursday.

FOX2 reports that the break-in occurred around noon in the parking lot of a Thai restaurant.

“I guess a couple cars got broken into and then the police actually came in and got the owner of the car, which one of my waitresses and told her that her car got broken into,” said Sy Pradithavanij, owner of Sala Thai.

The ATF declined to say what was stolen, but said no weapons were taken.

The ATF vehicle was one of three cars that were broken into by pushing a tool through the keyhole.

Other Stories of Interest

Arson Suspected at Florida Mosque Where Orlando Nightclub Shooter Worshiped

fire via pixabayBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Local law enforcement is asking the FBI and ATF to join the investigation into a suspicious fire early Monday morning at the Fort Pierce, Fla., mosque where the Orlando nightclub shooter Omar Mateen had worshiped.

“Evidence has revealed that this fire was set intentionally,” St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Maj. David Thompson told reporters, the Orlando Sentinel reports. 

The fire broke out at about 12:30 a.m. at the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce. No injuries were reported.

Surveillance video shows someone approaching the mosque.

“Immediately after the individual approached, a flash occurred and the individual fled the area,” Thompson said.

Justice Department Investigations Uncovers Serious Problems within ATF

ATF LogoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A federal investigation into the ATF’s handling of undercover storefront operations revealed numerous problems within the agency, including the failure to follow federal law on people with disabilities.

The 112-page report by the Justice Department’s Inspector General, which took 2.5 years to complete, recommended 13 reforms, USA Today reports. 

“Our review determined that while undercover operations can be an important component of ATF’s efforts to fight violent crime, ATF failed to devote sufficient attention to how it was managing its undercover storefront operations. It lacked adequate policies and guidance for its agents, and in some cases supervision, necessary to appropriately address the risks associated with the use of this complex investigative technique,” the report found.

The investigations found problems in several cities, including Milwaukee, Portland, Ore. and Pensacola, Fla.

The inspector general investigation was prompted by widespread problems with ATF that were uncovered by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 

Other Stories of Interest

ATF Offers $10K Reward After 8 Milwaukee Businesses Were Set Ablaze

ATF_LogoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The ATF is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the capture and conviction of arsonists who set fire to eight Milwaukee businesses during an uprising over the weekend.

The Washington Times reports that arsonists targeted a gas station, beauty supply store, auto parts store, supermarket and three liquor stores on Saturday and Sunday night.

A rally over three fatal shooting of Sylville Smith, an armed black man, turned violent after police tried to stop a march.

Seven officers also were injured.

The damage is “estimated to exceed several million dollars,” the ATF said.

Other Stories of Interest

Ex-ATF Agent Agrees to Pay $40,000 After Falsely Claiming He Had Cancer to Collect Sick Leave Pay

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By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A former ATF agent who faked having cancer to collect sick leave pay, has agreed to pay the federal government $40,000 to resolve the matter, the Justice Department announced this week.

The Justice Department’s Civil Division alleged that Douglas daCosta of Livermore, Calif.  agreed to pay $40,000 to resolve allegations that he falsely claimed more than 80 days paid sick leave while working as a criminal investigator for the ATF’s San Francisco field division from January 2009 until his retirement in June 2009.

Specifically, the government alleged that  daCosta falsely told his supervisors that he was undergoing extensive treatment for cancer and went as far as to provide a forged letter from a physician to back his claim, the government said in a press release, noting that he did not have cancer.

“When a law enforcement officer misuses taxpayer funds, he does a disservice to his colleagues who serve with professionalism and distinction,”  Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, said in a statement. “This settlement shows that we will not hesitate to hold individuals accountable if they misuse taxpayer funds.”

DaCosta had worked for ATF for 28 years.

His Linkedin page states that he currently works for an international security and investigations firm.

 

ATF Sends About 20 Agents to Help Investigate Shooting of Kansas City Officer

USA_-_KANSAS_-_Kansas_City_police_departmentBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The ATF is helping police investigate the fatal shooting Tuesday of a Kansas City, Kansas, officer.

Police said 46-year-old Capt. Robert Melton was gunned down while investigating report of a drive-by shooting, the Imperial Valley Press reports. 

The ATF has sent about 20 agents to the scene of the shooting. They will be on hand to provide help with ballistics and any other facets of the investigation.

A spokesman for the police department said it wasn’t clear whether the officers on the scene were ambushed.

“The investigation needs to play out before that can be determined,” he said.

ATF: Orlando Nightclub Shooter Legally Purchased Guns Days Before Attack

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Just days before he opened fire at an Orlando nightclub, killing 50 people, Omar Mateen legally purchased a handful and long gun, the ATF said.

Mateen, who was twice investigated by the FBI for suspected ties to terrorists, was not barred from buying a gun.

“He is not a prohibited person,” ATF Assistant Special Agent in Charge Trevor Velinor said.

Florida residents can legally purchase assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

Mateen reportedly pledged allegiance to ISIS before the attack.

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