Shameful: ATF Exploits Mentally Disabled In Sting Operations
By Anna Morris / December 9, 2013
First came Operation Fast and Furious, in which the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) purposely allowed illegal gun sales in a failed attempt to track down the heads of Mexican drug cartels.
Now, the ATF has stooped to using the mentally disabled to carry out their schemes.
The Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reported their findings after examining thousands of court documents detailing sting operations performed by the ATF. Officials in the bureau had seemingly duped young men in their teens and twenties into committing crimes at the agents’ request before arresting them.
The operations typically involved agents posing as owners of fake pawnshops, smoke shops or similar businesses, with the intent to lure in targets selling illegal guns and drug paraphernalia.
The article describes the following:
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.
As if that weren’t bad enough, the ATF has reportedly been conducting some of these stings near schools churches, and “safe-zones”. There are also several claims of ATF agents destroying private property and then disappearing. In fact, most details regarding the operation reek of agency corruption and incompetence. According to the Sentinel:
A machine gun and other weapons had been stolen from an agent’s car, the storefront was burglarized, agents arrested the wrong people and hired the brain-damaged man, who had an IQ of 54, to set up gun and drug deals.
The machine gun has not been recovered.
It gets even worse, as the following was perhaps the most alarming part of the report:
Members of Congress from both parties demanded answers, sparking an internal investigation by the ATF and a review by the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General. Eight months later, the ATF has not released its findings and the Justice Department investigation is not complete.
In a briefing with congressional staffers, ATF officials acknowledged the failures in Milwaukee but indicated they were isolated incidents. At the same time, agency officials admitted they had no written procedures, policies or guidelines for running such undercover operations. They promised to create a written policy.
For years, agents have been setting up everything from phony pawnshops and tattoo parlors to recording studios and thrift stores with no official protocol.
It’s no surprise that, with few rules and little oversight, stings have gone astray, said a veteran ATF agent who asked that his name not be published because he was not authorized to speak on the issue and feared retribution.