How do you feel about sting operations?

Comments

Tom Garrett 1 year, 3 months ago

Agent Brian Terry was mortally wounded on Dec. 14, 2010, in a firefight north of the Arizona-Mexico border between U.S. agents and five men who had sneaked into the country to rob marijuana smugglers. Two of the guns found at the scene of Terry's death have been traced back to a sale made during the "Fast and Furious" gun operation and lawyers are now claiming the government is responsible for Terry's death.

The family of the slain Border Patrol agent has sued six managers and investigators for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives over the handling of the "Fast and Furious" gun operation, as well as a federal prosecutor and the owner of the gun store where two rifles found in the firefight's aftermath were bought.

Ken and Josephine Terry, parents of the murdered border agent, claim in their lawsuit that the ATF officials and federal prosecutor created a risk to law enforcement officers such as Terry and that the firearms agents should have known their actions would lead to injuries and deaths to civilians and police officers in America and Mexico. They claim the sales should never have taken place, which means that there should have been no sting operation.

Over the years, many federal "sting" operations have involved the sale of illicit materials to individuals, the tracing of those materials to those who financed the purchases, and their subsequent trial and conviction.

It is inherent in the sale of something illegal to someone low down in the hierarchy of some racket that the sale must take place. Without that sale there is no possibility of following the trail of evidence back to those who are supplying the funds and reaping the profits.

This story is not exactly new, is it? You might ask why I've waited until now to say anything about it, but if you stop and think you'll realize why that is. I had to wait for the election campaign to end. The shooting of the border patrol agent was being used as political fodder.

So now that the election is over, and things are "calm" again, I ask you to take a cool, calm, logical look at sting operations involving the tracing of illegal weapons sales, and to decide whether or not the risk involved mandates a complete end to them, which is what the lawyers in the case are suggesting should have been done.

Should sting operations, which inherently involve some risk to somebody, be stopped?

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Pat Randall 1 year, 3 months ago

How can you trust anyone involved in a sting operation?

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Ronald Hamric 1 year, 3 months ago

Tom, Only one observation regarding this whole sordid ordeal. You are only getting the information that the government wants out in the public. In spite of all the questions asked by the congressonal committee investigating Fast and Furious, the Department of Justice and the Obama Administration are still stonewalling. Therefore we will probably never learn the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth regarding this "sting". I simply do not trust my government at any level any more, period. And they have more than earned that distrust.

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Bernice Winandy 1 year, 3 months ago

Does that distrust extend to even the most local of government bodies? :-)

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Tom Garrett 1 year, 3 months ago

Ron,

I agree that we do not have all the information we need on that operation. Maybe we will never have. How do you feel about the larger issue? Does the risk in a sting like this outweigh its value as a means of getting to the people at the top? For example, in this case, where someone was killed in a shoot-out in which guns which were sold and traced (but were not the guns which killed the person whose family is suing) actually place the blame for his death on the operation, or would it be fair to say that with or without the sting the bad guys would still have been armed? At the moment I have no firm opinion either way. The reason I put up this string was to get some opinions from people who think about such things.

Bernice, that sounds like a question with a purpose. :-)

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Ronald Hamric 1 year, 3 months ago

Tom, OK. You've drawn me into the debate. Like many things, I really couldn't make a blanket statement that all "sting" operations are bad. I would have to measure them on a case by case basis. As regards Fast & Furious, it was a botched operation due to the incompetence of those who run the Phoenix BATFE office. You've probably read that they found the 2nd in Command at that office had purchasd a handgun that only law enforcement or military can acquire, and that weapon was found at a shootout scene in Mexico where some beauty queen was killed along with several others. So, this particular "sting" was faulty from the beginning and we all know the results of the gross incompetence involved.

But there are some "stings" I favor when they accomplish their intended purpose. For instance, when there are areas prone to numerous auto thefts, the authorities often put out "bait cars" that have cameras/recorders inside plus auto locking doors that only the police can unlock. Some of the bleeding hearts amoung us say this is entrapment pure and simple. I disagree on that. I also favor "profiling". Since we have very costly and limited law enforcement personnel, those limited resources should not be squandered looking for people who do not fit the "profile" of the most readily known violators of any given law enforcement issue.

During my career, I did a period as an Arson Investigator and had a couple of detectives from the police department that worked with me. Having been "on the inside" of some of these things, I come to my views via direct experience. That direct experience is why in answer to Bernice's question, my distrust applies to the government at all levels. Like Reagan once said "Trust but Verify". That's assuming one has the means to verify. Most of us peons and serfs do not have that means, and for obvious reasons from a governmental viewpoint. If one actually believes that those who are charged with looking out for the interests and welfare of "the people" are actually doing their job, I have a beachfront piece of land in Pine I'd like to sell you.

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Tom Garrett 1 year, 3 months ago

"You've probably read that they found the 2nd in Command at that office had purchasd a handgun that only law enforcement or military can acquire, and that weapon was found at a shootout scene in Mexico where some beauty queen was killed along with several others."

Nope. Hadn't read that. Truth is, this is another one of those stories I stayed away from during the election because it was being treated as political fodder. So I wasn't kidding when I said I was asking for opinions; I actually know almost nothing about this particular case.

You mean the ATF agent bought a weapon for his own use and it ended up in the hands of some perp in Mexico?

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Ronald Hamric 1 year, 3 months ago

"You mean the ATF agent bought a weapon for his own use and it ended up in the hands of some perp in Mexico?" Yes, according to an article related to the whole Fast & Furious debacle. The agent who was 2nd in command at the Phoenix BATFE office had purchased this semi-auto handgun, which was supposidly only to be sold to law enforcement or military, and when they ran the numbers on the weapons found at the murder scene in Mexico, it came back as to the owner being that agent. When asked how the weapon ended up in Mexico, his response was he sold it to an anonymous buyer via the internet. Now, to truly appreciate the hypocracy of all this, it is the Justice Department and the BATFE that has been continually banging the drum about the "Gun Show Loophole". It appears we have a serious problem when those elected/appointed to enforce our laws are in fact the very culprits that are violating them with impunity. You simply gotta' love it! For your viewing pleasure I submit the following:

Excerpt From CBS News:

Mexican beauty queen Susana Flores Maria Gamez and four others died in a brutal gun battle between Sinaloa cartel members and the Mexican military in November. CBS News has learned that one weapon recovered from the area of the crime scene was originally purchased by federal agent George Gillett, an Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) manager who was faulted by the Inspector General in Operation Fast and Furious.

Gillett was the Assistant Special Agent in Charge of ATF Phoenix when Fast and Furious started. The recovered weapon is a so-called FN Herstal pistol nicknamed a “cop-killer” because of its designation as a “weapon of choice” for Mexican drug cartels.

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Tom Garrett 1 year, 3 months ago

"CBS News has learned that one weapon recovered from the area of the crime scene was originally purchased by federal agent George Gillett, an Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) manager who was faulted by the Inspector General in Operation Fast and Furious."

Ron, I'm not absolutely convinced by that statement for two reasons: One is that is came from the national media. The other is that while is says that the agent "purchased" it, it does NOT say that he bought it for his personal use. It just says "originally purchased by federal agent George Gillett," and my deep and abiding suspicion of the national media makes me wonder why, if it is so, they didn't point out that it was not something he did as part of his job. It is just too easy for the media to plant ideas like that.

As I said, I'm not arguing with you. Maybe someone else actually said it, but until I see it I am going to retain a healthy suspicion of any statement that is made by the media and isn't transparently clear. I think you can see why.

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Ronald Hamric 1 year, 3 months ago

Tom, Will accept that your cynacism towards the media is arrived at through experience and observation. There are other articles related to this incident if you care to look them up. The agent indicted in an interview that he has been "a gun collector/enthusiast" for years and that particular handgun was part of his collection. He indicated he fell on hard financial times and sold it via the internet to a person who he says he checked out very thoroughly, yet refused to identify. The handgun was an FN Hershtal that was designed specifically to penetrate body armor, the reason it's sale was restricted to law enforcemnt or military operators. They are available as a handgun or carbine . I've seen both and know of a law enforcement officer in Gila County that has both. CBS in my view is a member of the administration's press bureau and very seldom critisize or investigate those in Federal branches. They came "johnny come lately" to even mentioning the whole Fast & Furious debacle, but once they broke through the ice, they did a fair job of exposing much of the shenanigans that took place. The incident related to this agent's handgun was just one example.

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Tom Garrett 1 year, 3 months ago

Ah! Thanks, Ron. That's a whole different ballgame. What he did was morally wrong. He could have offered it to one of his fellow employees, put it up on a pulletin board, advertised it in a law enforcement magazine, or done a lot of other things that would have kept in it the right hands. With what I know about guns and the net I woulld guess that he made a tidy profit from it.

One word bottom line: Scuzzball.

Thanks for the info.

You're right, by the way; I do not fall into the little mind traps set by the national media. Not any more. Especially not after reading some of their bios, and bios of people who had to deal with them.

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