BATF

DOJ Appealing Decisions Against ATF Sting Operations

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The Department of Justice is appealing two recent decisions by federal judges in Los Angeles that found the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) practice of setting up fake stash houses and enticing small-time criminals to rob them (a strategy the ATF is proud of) unconstitutional.

USA Today reports:

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles declined to comment on the cases because they are ongoing. In court filings, however, prosecutors have blasted what they called Real's "barely defensible" decision to release "dangerous recidivist criminals" and pointed to a long history of similar investigations that have been approved by the courts.

The ATF quietly made such stash-house stings a central part of its effort to target violent criminals, more than quadrupling their use over the past decade. A USA TODAY investigation last year found that the stings led to more than 1,000 arrests, often sweeping up small-time criminals who jump at the chance to make hundreds of thousands of dollars for a few hours of work.

One of the judges, Manuel Real, ordered the release of three men caught in such an operation. They had already pled guilty and their lawyers were not seeking to have the charges overturned.

The judicial backlash isn't limited to the two decisions. Another federal circuit court judge in Los Angeles, Jimmy Carter appointee Stephen Reinhardt, warned of tyranny lurking around the corner because of the bureau's disturbing practice, writing that "government verges too close to tyranny when it sends its agents trolling through bars, tempts people to engage in criminal conduct, and locks them up for unconscionable periods of time when they fall for the scheme." In Chicago, meanwhile, a federal judge last year wondered whether the ATF's stings unfairly targeted minorities.

The ATF can apparently run anti-drug operations independently of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), likely based on the government's claim that the drug trade is often linked to firearms (as the trade of any substance or product prohibited by government would likely be).

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  1. Ah, “law enforcement” encouraging people to break the law and create potentially dangerous situations. Instead of going out and finding and arresting people who have actually broken laws where they harmed other people, let’s save ourselves the effort, put out a honey trap, and let the stupid and penny-ante come to us!

    1. And getting bitch slapped by multiple judges means nothing. They will just appeal until they can find an appellate judge who is a big enough hack to agree with them.

      The fact is that there is very little “illegal gun trade” in this country. There is a fair amount of illegal possession thanks to our ridiculous laws. But there are not people out there dealing in fully automatic sub machine guns like there are dealing heroine. The ATF literally has no reason to exist. So they go out and try to create a gun trade to create a reason.

      Think of it this way; there really is an illegal drug trade in this country and how often do you see cops trying to induce people to sell drugs the way the ATF tries to entrap people to sell guns? Once in a while but rarely. That is because cops trying to stop the drug trade don’t have to invent one to stop.

    2. Look, we can’t expect them to keep dangerous criminals off the streets unless they can, first, create some dangerous criminals to keep off the streets! THINK!

  2. The ATF can apparently run anti-drug operations independently of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), likely based on the government’s claim that the drug trade is often linked to firearms (as the trade of any substance or product prohibited by government would likely be).

    Oh, FFS! I suppose the DoT runs anti-drug operations, based on a claim that the drug trade is often linked to automobiles? Or the EPA, since the drug trade is often linked to air and water?

    1. Quit giving the ideas. Now the DOT will have a away team.

      1. Swat team. Fuck autocorrect.

        1. Damn, and here I thought you meant to say “an away team,” like on Star Trek

      2. Away team? Like on the Enterprise? You’ll be wearing a red shirt, right?

        1. Dork.

          1. Dork? Is that a Ferengi name?

            1. Half Kingon/Half Ferengi actually. Ugliest person in the alpha and beta quadrants. Also, he’s really angry and cheap.

              1. This gives new meaning to the words “Dork alert!”

                1. At least he’s not “Dark Dork” from the alternate universe who came through that wormhole/rip in the space time continuum that I’m pretty sure Q caused. Man, that guy was angry, cheap, and MEAN. (also, he was a little more tan, thus the Dark part).

                  1. He must have had a goatee.

                    1. Yes! It’s a good thing Ace Rimmer, Han Solo, and The Doctor were all there to stop him.

                    2. You’ve been reading io9, haven’t you. Just admit it.

                    3. Look, if I’m going to go Dork, I’m going FULL DORK.

    2. OSHA, cuz’ of those workplace accidents and shit.

    3. The Census Bureau revealed today that it’s bungled raid on meth-addled illiterates was intended to combat the growing inaccuracies in census reporting.

      “We are waging a battle against bad statistics caused by drug users making mistakes on the forms,” commented bureau chief John Thompson.

  3. You gotta create crime? Maybe you need to lay off some unneeded agents.

  4. Beyond the entrapment aspect, it’s “funny” that they push these guys to steal from other lawbreakers. They’re not enticing the targets to sell or buy drugs (or guns, in this case), but to go steal from other criminals. It’s like snatching them for robbing a robber.

    I wonder if actual drug dealers are appreciative. Barksdale certainly would’ve appreciated the cops entrapping Omar.

    1. You come at the king, you best not miss.

    2. I wonder if actual drug dealers are appreciative.

      Eliminate potential competition and create a reason to jack up your prices? I think the answer is obvious.

    3. They’re not enticing the targets to sell or buy drugs

      What, you think they’re going to snort those 50 kilos!?

      Stealing massive amounts of drugs (to me) implies some kind of profit motive.

  5. How about we eliminate all federal firearms laws, sans import restrictions and leave it totally up to the states? Then eliminate the BATF and leave gun enforcement such as it is up to Customs and CBP.

    1. but but but…… THE CHILLUNZ!

    2. Because “shall not be infringed” means “create laws and a federal enforcement agency”! Duh!

  6. The Department of Justice is appealing two recent decisions by federal judges…

    Is there any downside to government lawyers appealing rulings all the way to the end of days? Certainly time and money aren’t an issue.

    1. It’s a great tactic, ain’t it? Especially since one might think that the DoJ would take the rulings of its own “federal judges”.

      1. And all at taxpayer expense.

      2. That’s something I’ve always wondered: If the 3 branches are supposed to be equal but separate, why is the Government allowed to appeal its own decision once it’s made in court?

        1. It does seem like that’s a right that should be reserved for individuals and not states.

  7. Apparently terrorism is a different, somehow, since I haven’t heard that the FBI has been reprimanded for doing almost exactly the same thing.

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