ATF Boutique

Alcohol, tobacco, and fashion

Last year a business calling itself Fearless Distributing opened in Milwaukee, selling designer clothes, jewelry, and drug paraphernalia. The store was actually a front run by agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), who hoped to use the retail space to buy drugs and weapons from felons. 

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the operation did not snag any major drug dealers or break up any criminal gangs. But agents did manage to lose equipment, cause property damage, and even let a machine gun escape their custody.

Merchandise worth $35,000 was stolen from the store, along with several guns, including a fully automatic M-4 rifle. When the ATF abandoned the store, documents listing the names and contact information of undercover agents were left behind. ATF agents also left behind property damage totaling $15,000, which the building’s owner says the agency has yet to pay. 

Some local residents are understandably concerned that the ATF was trying to lure felons to their neighborhood. An ATF spokesman, Special Agent Robert Schmidt, told the Journal Sentinel he was convinced the operation had made Milwaukee safer. 

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.


Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.