A depressing tale of fake pawn shops

The Milwaukee Sentinel has uncovered a depressing — some might go so far as to say, slimy — story about how the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms goes about intercepting illegal gun sales. It involves treachery, sales of illicit drugs, recruitment of mentally-damaged mules . . .

And that’s just on the law enforcement side.

Among the tactics was setting up fake pawn shops. Thanks ATF. It’s not as if legit pawn shops like our Maui operation don’t have to struggle against an undeserved — we think — reputation of pawn shops as fences and exploiters.

How bad did it get? What’s known is very bad, but there are reasons to suspect the situation is worse than the public knows:

The ATF refused the Journal Sentinel’s request for an interview with Director B. Todd Jones or other agency officials to address findings of the investigation. Instead, the agency provided a written statement that failed to answer any questions, and spokeswoman Ginger Colbrun suggested reporters read ATF news releases issued after the stings.
The use of falsefront businesses to capture crooks has a long and, at least in the hands of journalists, distinguished history. The Chicago Sun-Times and the Better Government Association once set up a bar called the Mirage (get it?) to capture corrupt city inspectors. They won a Pulitzer Prize.
One difference between them and the ATF was that the journalists were not themselves criminals.
As more revelations come out — and it looks like both parties are ready to have Congress investigate — it is unlikely that there will be local examples. Hawaii pawn shops do not generally deal in firearms.  But on behalf of our honest colleagues on the Mainland, we are just as angry as we know they are.

Badge of shame

Badge of shame

Read more from Journal Sentinel: http://www.jsonline.com/watchdog/watchdogreports/atf-uses-rogue-tactics-in-storefront-stings-across-the-nation-b99146765z1-234916641.html?ipad=y#ixzz2n0kGefcZ
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