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Tag: storefront stings

ATF Agents Accused of Impersonating Landlord to Turn On Electricity in Storefront Stings

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Undercover ATF agents renting a storefront had their energy shut off by the landlord because they exceeded their monthly allotment.

The agents responded by getting the landlord’s account information and calling the electricity company pretending to be him, an internal investigation revealed, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Account statements were improperly taken and information contained in one of those statements was improperly used to impersonate the landlord in a telephone conversation with the electric power provider,” according to the report, prepared by the ATF’s Office of Professional Responsibility and Security Operations.

The ATF investigation is part of a larger probe involving blundered storefront stings.

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Congress Slams ATF Director Over Blundered Undercover Storefront Operations

US Attorney B. Todd Jones

Todd Jones

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

ATF Director B. Todd Jones’ first appearance before Congress wasn’t a pleasant one.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that congressional members from both sides slammed Jones over the agency’s blunders in undercover storefront operations.

Some of the problems included using people with mental disabilities to promote undercover operations.

Jones defended the agency, saying it didn’t knowingly target people with mental disabilities.

“You don’t think that your agents, dealing with a man with an IQ in the 50s, knew he was mentally disabled?” asked U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.).

U.S. Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-Mich.), who used to teach children with disabilities, said people with low IQs are easy to recognize.

“Anyone with any life experience can ask simple questions,” he said. “I was surrounded by these kids. They are some of the best, nicest people who try their best and just want to please. I am appalled you would use these individuals like this and arrest them later.”

Responded Jones: “Hindsight is 20/20.”

Journal Sentinel Editorial: ATF’s Stings Were an Embarrassing ‘Joke’ by Federal Government

By Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 
Editorial 

The deputy director of the ATF told a congressional subcommittee last week that the agency is out of the business of undercover storefront stings for now after embarrassing revelations in this newspaper that illustrated how badly botched some of these operations were.

Thomas E. Brandon told the House Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security that there were no operations underway and that the ATF had beefed up oversight.

That’s good, because the agency’s stings were a joke.

A series of Journal Sentinel articles found that the agency used mentally disabled people to promote operations and then arrested them on drug and gun charges; opened storefronts near churches and schools and attracted kids with free video games and alcohol. Agents paid too much for guns, leading folks to buy guns elsewhere and sell them back to the government at drastically inflated prices, and agents let armed felons leave the phony storefronts and bought stolen goods, which made crime worse in nearby neighborhoods.

U.S. Rep. James Sensenbrenner, chairman of the subcommittee, called the Milwaukee sting an “abysmal failure.”

To read more click here.

 

 

ATF Comes Under Investigation for Handling of Undercover Storefront Stings in 4 Cities

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The ATF is under fire for botched storefront stings and other undercover operations across the country.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Inspector General Michael Horowitz opened an investigation into storefront stings in Milwaukee, Pensacola, St. Louis and Wichita, Kan.

The agency is already under investigation for its handling of a controversial drug-running probe, Operation Fast and Furious

Horowitz said the investigation will “examine possible systemic deficiencies in ATF’s storefront operations policies, and evaluate the effectiveness of the Monitored Case Program as an oversight tool in these operations.”

One of the problems with Operation Fast and Furious, he said, was the lack of oversight.

Report: ATF Exploits Mentally Disabled People, Children During Questionable Investigations

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

ATF used some questionable tactics in investigations that included exploiting mentally challenged people, an investigation by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel showed.

 After reviewing thousands of documents, the paper found:

■ ATF agents befriended mentally disabled people to drum up business and later arrested them in at least four cities in addition to Milwaukee. In Wichita, Kan., ATF agents referred to a man with a low IQ as “slow-headed” before deciding to secretly use him as a key cog in their sting. And agents in Albuquerque, N.M., gave a brain-damaged drug addict with little knowledge of weapons a “tutorial” on machine guns, hoping he could find them one.

■ Agents in several cities opened undercover gun- and drug-buying operations in safe zones near churches and schools, allowed juveniles to come in and play video games and teens to smoke marijuana, and provided alcohol to underage youths. In Portland, attorneys for three teens who were charged said a female agent dressed provocatively, flirted with the boys and encouraged them to bring drugs and weapons to the store to sell.

■ As they did in Milwaukee, agents in other cities offered sky-high prices for guns, leading suspects to buy firearms at stores and turn around and sell them to undercover agents for a quick profit. In other stings, agents ran fake pawnshops and readily bought stolen items, such as electronics and bikes — no questions asked — spurring burglaries and theft. In Atlanta, agents bought guns that had been stolen just hours earlier, several ripped off from police cars.

To read more click here.