• Congressman: Mistakes during ATF sting cost police time and money

    By: Justin Gray


    WASHINGTON - A Georgia congressman is raising big questions with an undercover Atlanta sting operation that got hundreds of stolen guns off the streets.
    U.S. Rep. Doug Collins told Channel 2’s Justin Gray that mistakes by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives during the undercover operation cost local police departments time and money.
    The sting was set up to look like a smoke shop but was really a front run by undercover ATF agents.
    Now the ATF is facing serious questions about what happened in that Atlanta store.
    Channel 2 Action News was there in 2011 as the ATF showed off the nearly 400 guns its agents took off the streets through an undercover sting called ATL Blaze.
    From handguns to automatic weapons, it was an impressive haul. Forty-nine people were charged with crimes.
    But now, Collins said some of those guns were stolen from Atlanta area police departments and said the ATF didn't tell those local agencies or turn over the guns.
    “Local agencies were forced to spend time and effort and resources, from testimony we've heard, they could not use on other things while ATF was holding guns stolen from police officers. That's just wrong,” Collins told Gray.
    On Tuesday, Collins pressed Attorney General Eric Holder about the alleged problems with ATL Blaze and issues in several other ATF undercover storefront operations.
    “It’s absurd and people will be held accountable,” Holder said.
    “How will they be held accountable? What did you do to hold people accountable?” Collins asked Holder.
    “There is an investigation right now by the Inspector General. Once those findings are made and people are identified, they'll be held accountable,” Holder said.
    Gray reached out to the Atlanta Police Department and the Fulton County Police Department.
    APD referred him to the ATF. A Fulton County spokeswoman said there was no Fulton County police property recovered in ATL Blaze, stolen or otherwise.
    “We want to know what happened and why it happened,” Collins said.
    Gray reached out to the ATF special agent in charge for Atlanta. He said there are answers to Collins' questions. He has a meeting set with the congressman for next week.
    The agent said it's not appropriate to talk about the situation until he speaks face-to-face with Collins.

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