BRUTISH IGNORANCE AT ATF AND DEA
The war on drugs has been an abysmal failure. Most serious observers readily agree that it has done nothing significant to stem the flow of illicit substances into and throughoutthe United States, but some are just beginning to realize that as political demands for some evidence of success have increased in the wake of decades of failure, the tactics used in the war have come to exceed what is acceptable in a just society, such as the arming of drug gangs with weapons in the botched ATF Fast and Furious scandal and, now, the inducement of those with low IQs and developmental disabilities to become stooges in illicit weapon and drug transactions.
Few acts disgust decent people more than when those challenged with disability are the subject of abuse. Revulsion is the proper reaction. How then are we to react when our own government abuses the disabled?
Reporters John Diedrich and Raquel Rutledge of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently published a series of articles exposing six ATF operations that have involved highly suspect tactics. In a Newsmax article, award winning Washington Times journalist Cheryl K. Chumley also reported upon these abuses.
In the operations, ATF agents go undercover and pose as owners and employees of illicit drug and gun buying operations. They find mentally disabled people and vulnerable others to be stooges for the agents, to join the disguised agents in consummating illicit drug and gun transactions, and to funnel people, including teens, to sham storefronts where they are encouraged to commit criminal acts. The ATF agents then make arrests, including the arrest of those who have done their bidding as stooges.
In Chumley’sNewsmax report, she explains that ATF induced Chauncey Wright, a 28 year old resident of Milwaukee with an IQ of 54, to engage in illicit drug and weapons transactions for six months. ATF undercover agents paid Wright with cigarettes, writes Chumley, and had him ride his bicycle near the bogus storefront disseminating literature about the new store. The agents caused Wright to stock the storefront with drugs and drug paraphernalia. After arresting a number of people who sold the agents contraband, they then turned on Wright who had helped them and booked him on felony drug and illegal weapons charges.
In another Milwaukee sting operation, ATF established a sham storefront. Undercover ATF agents working out of the store convinced two teenagers, Aaron Key, who is mentally disabled, and his friend Marquis Glover to be their stooges. They had each acquire tattoos of giant squids smoking pot (the storefront was called “Squid’s Smoke Shop”), rendering their bodies advertisements for illicit activity. They paid Key and Glover $150 each to get their bodies tattooed. After the sting netted others suspects, they arrested Key and Glover and booked them on federal drug and illegal weapons charges.
The Journal Sentinel reports that ATF was involved in six other comparable operations nationwide. In these operations, ATF undercover agents befriended disabled people and induced them to interact with illicit drug and weapons dealers. The agents induced teens into the storefronts, sold them pot and allowed to smoke it there and also sold them alcohol and allowed them to drink it under age. ATF undercover agents in Albuquerque, New Mexico gave a brain damaged drug addict a tutorial on how to prep and fire a machine gun. In Portland, Oregon, ATF had one of its female agents dress immodestly to induce teenage boys into the storefront operation and then succeeded in getting the boys to engage in illicit transactions whereupon they were later arrested. In some locations, ATF agents allowed known felons to leave the storefronts armed with guns. In Wichita, Kansas, undercover ATF agents taught a felon how to make a sawed off shotgun, allowing him to leave the storefront with the weapon and upon his return charged him with felony weapons possession (by having him transform the illegal shotgun into a sawed off shotgun, ATF was able to charge the felon with a more serious weapons offense).
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In each of these instances, ATF induced vulnerable people to engage in illegal activity, even assisting them with the illegal acts. They caused crimes to happen and endangered not only the lives of those they induced to perform illegal acts but also the surrounding neighborhoods. As with the botched Fast and Furious Operation, they put weapons in the hands of felons along with drugs, creating a dangerous and predictable threat to the communities where they operated.
These ATF abuses are not isolated events. They are indicative of how DEA and ATF have engaged in ever more desperate and extreme tactics in the failed war on drugs. The enforcement operations lack rational supervision, cause the very crimes the agencies are supposed to combat, endanger the public, and take advantage of vulnerable populations. They are unjust and unconstitutional government enterprises, characteristic of the kind of brutish thuggery common in petty dictatorships.
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