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Tag: Gun parts

Theft of Thousands of Guns, Parts from ATF Facility Reveals Serious Problems at Agency

File photo of guns, via ATF

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

ATF officials are being evasive about the theft of thousands of guns and firearm parts that were supposed to be destroyed.

Many of the guns had been seized by law enforcement, and others were retired service weapons from the ATF, FBI, DEA and other federal law enforcement agencies.

The weapons disappeared after being sent to the ATF’s National Firearms and Ammunition Destruction Branch in Martinsburg, W.Va., where they were supposed to be destroyed.

The case has exposed the ATF’s failure to keep track of guns sent to the facility and detect when weapons are stolen. The agency has declined to publicly reveal the extent of the thefts, and ATF officials have been evasive when questioned by Congress.

One of the suspects in the thefts, Christopher Yates, a guard at the ATF facility, has admitted stealing thousands of firearms, gun parts and ammunition before selling them. The 52-year-old, a contract employee for the ATF for 16 years, pleaded guilty in federal court in April to stealing government property. He faces up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced in August.

Yates managed to steal the guns and parts for years without the ATF knowing.

The ATF has failed to provide detailed information on the thefts to Congress, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

In a March 28 letter to senators, then-Acting ATF Director Tom Brandon cited Yates’ open case as a reason for failing to provide more information.

“We cannot at this time characterize the scope of the thefts from the Martinsburg facility,” wrote Brandon, who retired in April.

Senators are pledging to get to the bottom of the case.

“The ATF is tasked with protecting our communities and the theft of a substantial amount of weapons, parts and ammunition from ATF facilities raises significant concerns,” Sens. Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Ron Johnson, R-Wis., wrote in a statement to the Journal Sentinel. “Our committee is seeking a full accounting of this situation, and we hope the ATF will be as transparent as possible while we continue to pursue answers.”

Without a proper accounting of stolen guns, agents at each of the ATF’s 25 field offices have been assigned to search for stolen weapons. That search is taking resources away from fighting crime.