Epic Fail: ATF Sting Operation Descends into Chaos

January 31st, 2013

If government agencies were baseball teams, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms would be the metaphorical equivalent to the Bad News Bears. This bungling troop of bureaucrats took part in the Waco and Ruby Ridge atrocities that left innocent Americans dead. The ATF also carried out the recent Fast and Furious program in which firearms, later used to kill US border guards, were given to drug cartels.

Now, the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel is reporting on a newly botched sting operation. During this bizarrely disorganized effort, a mind-blowing number of diverse mistakes were made. By the end of the operation, the commercial property rented by the ATF had been destroyed, the agency’s merchandise had been burglarized, and a machine gun fell into the hands of criminals. In their haste to abandon the property rented for the sting operation (without paying rent and damages), agents left behind a document revealing the names of undercover agents. Are ATF agents totally unsupervised?

A Head Shop That Pays Top Dollar for Legal Guns

Using a fake name, ATF agents rented commercial property to create a head shop called Fearless Distributing. The plan was to operate the facility as a front while attempting to buy drugs and guns from black market dealers. However, the price the agents offered for guns was far too high, thus motivating people to go to a nearby gun store, purchase firearms legally, and then sell them to the ATF. This process mainly resulted in taxpayers picking up the tab for overpriced, legal firearms.

Months went by without any major arrests. Drug dealers were not falling for the sting. Some petty, personal-use related drug charges were issued. Some other locals had the book thrown at them for possessing a firearm while committing some other petty crime. In a few cases, the wrong person was arrested. One of the suspects charged with allegedly selling drugs to ATF agents had a strong alibi — he was in prison at the time.

Burglars Steal $35,000 in Merchandise from the Bungling Bureaucrats

After failing to bust any serious drug dealers for ten months, Fearless Distributing was burglarized. Thieves broke in and stole $35,000 worth of the store’s merchandise. Furthermore, on a different day, an agent left three guns, including a machine gun, in his vehicle, unlocked. Inevitably, those guns were stolen.

After the burglary, agents quickly canceled the operation, cleared their remaining possessions from the facility, and skipped out of town without paying rent, back utilities, or damages from the burglary, totaling around $15,000. To make matters worse, they left behind a classified document which contains the real names of undercover officers.

The local community is angry that the government was attempting to lure drug-dealing gangs into the neighborhood. The scene left behind is one of pure chaos. What’s going on over at the ATF? Are agents just doing whatever they want with no supervision or oversight?

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About the Author: Barry Donegan

Barry Donegan is a singer for the experimental mathcore band Look What I Did, a writer, a self-described "veteran lifer in the counterculture", a political activist/consultant, and a believer in the non-aggression principle.