Unbelievable: ATF Using Mentally Disabled Teens to Run Drug-and-Gun Stings

Hat tip:

If you thought the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and
Explosives (ATF) couldn’t stoop any lower, you’d be wrong.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports
that the agency
responsible for setting off the events that led to
and were at the center of the
Fast and Furious gun-walking scandal
are using mentally
disabled teenagers to advertise businessess that are actually
fronts for ATF sting operations.

The Journal Sentinel’s expose leads with the tale of Aaron Key,
a 19-year-old stoner whose mind is not quite all there. The ower of
a head shop in Portland, Oregon, befriended Key and his friends
online and then paid them to get neck tattoos advertising “Squid’s
Smoke Shop.”

He and his friend, Marquis Glover, liked Squid’s. It was their
hangout. The 19-year-olds spent many afternoons there playing Xbox
and chatting with the owner, “Squid,” and the store clerks.

So they took the money and got the ink etched on their necks,
tentacles creeping down to their collarbones.

It would be months before the young men learned the whole thing
was a setup. The guys running Squid’s were actually undercover ATF
agents conducting a sting to get guns away from criminals and drugs
off the street.

The tattoos had been sponsored by the U.S. government;
advertisements for a fake storefront.

The teens found out as they were arrested and booked into

Earlier this
, when the Journal Sentinel reported on an ATF sting
operation in Milwaukee involving a “low IQ” informant, authorities
wrote it off as an isolated act of rogue agents. The Journal
Sentinel documents at least half-a-dozen stings from around the
country that use the same “rogue” tactics of creating fake
storefronts and using low IQ people to set stings in cities such as
Pensacola, Florida, Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Wichita,

“There is enough crime out there, why do you have to manufacture
it?” said Jeff Griffith, a lawyer for a defendant in Wichita. “You
are really creating crime, which then you are prosecuting. You
wonder where the moral high ground is in this.”

Apart from the moral issues (which are huge enough), there’s a
question of whether such operations are worth a damn in terms of
serious collars:

In Albuquerque, for example, a man who was twice indicted on
first-degree murder charges, once for killing a man in prison, was
later busted in a storefront sting for being a felon in possession
of weapon.

But in many cases examined by the Journal Sentinel, the people
charged in the stings had minor criminal histories or nonviolent
convictions such as burglary or drug possession.

In several of those cases, defendants still got stiff sentences,
but others resulted in little or no punishment. In Wichita, nearly
a third of the roughly 50 federal cases charged led to no prison
time. Defendants got probation or had their case dismissed, records
showed. One was acquitted by a jury.

Not the results federal agents typically trumpet.

In the case of Aaron Key and Marquis Glover, the judge handling
the cases was puzzled over the ATF’s decision to cajole the teens
(who were ultimately convicted of crimes that were enabled by the
government) into getting tattoos.

In federal court, a prosecutor who handled several of the ATF
cases, including Key’s, tried to explain to a judge why the agents
employed the tactic.

The agents said they thought Key and Glover were testing them to
see if they were law enforcement, Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott
Kerin said in
a January 2012 sentencing hearing

Key and Glover supposedly did this by suggesting they all smoke

Kerin said the agents then proposed Key and Glover get tattoos
as a way to get them off their trail.

The explanation didn’t make sense to U.S. District Judge Michael
Mosman, a former federal prosecutor.

“I guess I don’t make the connection,” Mosman said. “They’re
concerned that if, among other things, they don’t smoke marijuana
with this guy that they’ll be given up as law enforcement, so they
think a way to derail that is to suggest that he get a tattoo?”

Kerin tried again to explain.

“Mr. Key and Mr. Glover were trying to identify them as law
enforcement or possibly testing to determine if they were law

The judge cut in: “I think I understand that part. I just don’t
understand why you put someone off your trail by suggesting they
get a tattoo. How does that help?”

The judge ordered the ATF to pay for the removal of Key’s

Read the whole story
, which details both how the ATF sets up
fake businessess and the paltry results such efforts get in terms
of doing anything about fighting criminal activity. And then ask
yourself (and maybe your law enforcement and political
representatives) just how bad does the
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
have to be
before it’s finally disbanded?

Hat tip:

For more Reason on ATF failings, click here.

Gallup finds a record-high percentage of Americans
percent), especially those who identify as political independents
(65 percent), think the government has too much power. Any

Back in October, Reason TV reported on how Riverside County,
California cops tricked an autistic kid into selling pot as part of
a sting operation.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/09/unbelievable-atf-using-mentally-disabled

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