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Wisconsin sting operation raises doubts

A sting operation involving a 10-month investigation in Milwaukee was criticized by an official from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms for various problems. Although the sting resulted in at least 31 arrests on charges of federal crimes, the ATF official stated that changes would be made in future undercover operations.

The problems with this sting operation covered a wide range of issues, including stolen guns, the loss of one agent's ballistic shield, theft of nearly $40,000 in merchandise and charges being brought against the wrong suspects. The special agent in charge of the division admitted that mistakes had been made, but he also defended his officers, citing the high number of arrests. However, an independent investigation revealed that most of the counts were for minor gun and drug crimes. 

Recent sales of guns to drug dealers as part of sting operations have received public scrutiny given the dangerous nature of these weapons. Some of these guns may end up in the wrong hands and cause death or injury.

An individual who has been charged with any type of drug crime or federal violation may wish to consult a criminal defense attorney. In large sting operations, police behavior may have a direct impact on whether charges can be filed against a person or whether a suspect can be prosecuted. Moreover, independent investigations sometimes uncover corruption or inaccurate charges made against suspects. A criminal defense lawyer may be able to assess the matter on behalf of a client and advise the suspect regarding a possible plea bargain or defense of the charges. In Wisconsin, criminal defense lawyers may explain rights and options to defendants who face charges of drug crimes.

Source: JS Online, "ATF boss raps Milwaukee storefront sting, vows changes," John Diedrich, March 7, 2013

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