Rep. Darrell Issa wrote an article today for The Hill. In 2011, B. Todd Jones took over as head of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) – first as Acting Director and later as Director. The Bureau was in need of new leadership in the wake of Operation Fast and Furious, and his mission was to help the agency recover from that humiliating and dangerous scandal.
Just over a year ago, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on Operation Fearless, an undercover storefront operation that took place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin during Director Jones’ tenure. Everything about Operation Fearless went wrong: ATF agents allowed convicted felons to leave the store, Fearless Distributing, armed and dangerous. The store was burglarized and $39,000 worth of merchandise was lost — ATF had neglected to install an alarm system. In a separate incident, three weapons, including a machine gun, were stolen from an ATF vehicle. And agents hired a person with intellectual and developmental disabilities, who had an IQ in the 50s, to assist with store operations – and then arrested him for his involvement.
Three years after the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, ATF management has yet to fire any employees for their role in Operation Fast and Furious. That is inexcusable. ATF promised to change its culture, implement new policies and procedures, and hold agents accountable for their actions. As the details of Operation Fearless come to light, it’s difficult to see what has changed.
~ Background Match 2014 Operation Fearless, as it was called, was a multi-city program through which ATF opened roughly 37 pawn shops and storefronts around the country, often in or near gang areas, with the purpose of attracting felons and criminals to unknowingly sell their crime guns to the government. Agents would then trace the weapons to determine their source and use forensics to tie the guns to homicides.
Problem is, some storefronts opened across from schools and churches, against policy. Agents attracted juveniles with free video games and alcohol. In one case, the agency paid two informants, one mentally deficient, to get tattoos on their neck of a squid smoking a joint to promote the store. Taxpayers later paid to remove the tattoos.
Undercover Storefront Operations: Continued Oversight of ATF’s Reckless Investigative Techniques:
B. TODD JONES DIRECTOR ATF/ DOJ testimonial statement