I heard about this story on NPR and had some ambivalence about whether to post about it. Essentially, the ATF is being accused of permitting 1300+ guns to be purchsed by straw buyers and shipped to drug gangs in Mexico. Straw buyers are middlemen who can buy guns in the U.S. without raising a bunch of red flags and then resell them to people who can’t.
But, Fox News is reporting that some of the straw buyers were actually ATF agents, making he U.S. government an actual participant rather than just an observer. According to the story, two .50 caliber machine guns were transferred this way.
Stories like this always make me wonder how much of the crime we hear about is actually facilitated by law enforcement. It seems like cops are using the sting strategy as a replacement for investigative techniques a lot these days. It’s easier to con someone into committing a crime than it is to actually track someone down who already committed a crime when no one was looking. So, now we have cops passing themselves off as children online to snare possible predators, cops distributing child porn to trap buyers, cops posing as prostitutes selling sex on Craigslist, cops acting as suppliers of explosives to wouldbe terrorists, and now cops selling guns to drug cartels. At the more local level, there are women cops posing as street walkers and male cops soliciting prostitutes. The list just goes on and on. If that weren’t enough, the mainstream news media are conducting their own sensationalistic stings (NBC’s To Catch a Predator) and, at least in the case of the Craigslist prostitutes, research organizations posing as child hookers as part of a junk science study.
Given the uproar over the supposition that Mexican drug cartels are getting their guns from the U.S., this seems like yet another stunning example of drug war idiocy.
[Posted by Dave Krueger]