After a Year of Administration Stonewalling, Issa Subpoenas ATF Storefront Sting Documents

Published: Mar 20, 2014

WASHINGTON – House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) subpoenaed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) for documents relating to the ATF’s nationwide storefront sting operations yesterday evening.  ATF carried out these storefront sting operations across the country, from Oregon to Florida, and utilized deplorable tactics including exploiting mentally disabled individuals to generate business and later arresting them, setting up storefronts near schools, and even losing high-powered firearms.

“After more than a year of promised cooperation, multiple letters to you, and several unfulfilled document requests, I have no choice today but to issue the enclosed subpoena to compel the production of documents relevant to the Committee’s investigation,” wrote Chairman Issa in a cover letter to ATF Director B. Todd Jones.

The Committee first became aware of Operation Fearless, a storefront operation in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, from media reports in January 2013.  These reports made clear that Operation Fearless was fundamentally mismanaged, evidenced by the fact that nearly $40,000 in merchandise and three guns were stolen from ATF agents during the operation, including a fully-automatic rifle.  After months of delay, ATF officials finally briefed congressional staff on April 15, 2013, representing that such storefront operations were limited to the single instance in Milwaukee.  Subsequent media reports, however, revealed that the ATF used these same storefront stings across the country. In one case, the ATF exploited a mentally disabled man to work at the storefront. In another, the ATF had a mentally disabled man tattoo a squid smoking a joint on his neck.

The Committee’s Subpoena Requires ATF to Provide Documents Including:

·         Communications relating to Operation Fearless Distributing and the Monitored Case Program at ATF.

·         Operational plans and relevant Reports of Investigation for undercover storefront operations conducted around the country.

·         Documents relating to authorization for ATF agents to sell weapons during these operations.

·         ATF policies for conducting undercover storefront operations.

·         Relevant Reports of Investigation, for undercover storefront operations conducted between January 1, 2010 and March 19, 2014, in any of the following cities:

o   Milwaukee, Wisconsin

o   Portland, Oregon

o   Wichita, Kansas

o   Albuquerque, New Mexico

o   Pensacola, Florida

o   Atlanta, Georgia

Background Info:

·         Read the subpoena cover letter here.

·         Issa, Grassley, Goodlatte letter to Jones 1/9/2014

·         Issa, Grassley, Goodlatte, Sensenbrenner letter to Jones 5/10/2013

·         Issa, Grassley, Goodlatte, Sensenbrenner letter to Jones 4/3/2013

·         Read Issa, Grassley, Goodlatte, Sensenbrenner letter to Jones 1/31/2013