ATF’s Operation Gideon, targeting inner city “bad guys”

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Working Group on Civil Asset Reform Meets
October 3, 2014




An relatively new and extremely disturbing law enforcement tactic in the “War on Drugs” is the ATF invented “drug house robbery sting.”

Law enforcement has made the dangerous world of the illicit drug trade even more dangerous by creating robberies of  fake drug  stash houses and setting up confrontations between robbers and heavily armed police officers.

The “fake robbery sting” is the brainchild of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF), and has proven wildly popular, with state and local law enforcement agencies across the country, particularly in the inner cities.

This ‘sting’ normally involves planting an informant in desperately poor inner city neighborhood.  The informant then begins spreading a rumor that he know of an “easy score” a drug stash house filled to the ceiling with money and drugs.  When the informant has assembled his “crew”, the group is led into the trap.

According to a USA Today investigative report, as of last year, the feds had already locked up more than a thousand people who its agents had enticed into conspiracies to rob fake drug stash houses. And it’s not just the AFT. The DEA often uses the fake drug rip-off schemes, as well.

In Miami, the results have included one mass killings of suspects by a police SWAT teams under highly questionable circumstances

A 2011 “fake robbery sting” left four people dead – including informant Rosendo Betancourt-Garcia, 39, who helped police set up the sting.

Prosecutors decided not to prosecute any of the police involved. Especially damning to police was the State Attorney’s Office (SAO) memorandum on the resolution of the case.

The SAO report stated:   “Due to a number of unusual, counter-intuitive, suspicious and/or disturbing factors present in the other three shootings, we cannot state definitively that those shootings were legally justified. Nevertheless, because we do not have evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to disprove the version of events given by the three officers and are thus compelled to accept their testimony as truthful [bolding and italics in original],… there is insufficient evidence to prove an unlawful killing of Rosendo Betancourt-Garcia, Antonio Andrew, or Roger Gonzalez-Valdez Sr. by any of the other 10 officers involved in the events of June 30, 2011.”

​What really lit up the city was the release by NBC 6 News of a video tape from a police helicopter’s infrared camera that showed  the men shot multiple times, although  the men had actually had surrendered.

Although police managed to thwart any attempt to prosecute them, the taxpayers of Miami-Dade have not been so fortunate. In July, the city agreed to pay $600,000 to the families of three of the men to settle a deadly force lawsuit. Betancourt’s family didn’t settle, and their lawsuit against the city remains pending.

“There is a strong showing of potential bias in the robbery stings,” US District Court Judge Rueben Castillo wrote in an order last year. Castillo noted that since 2011, federal agents have used such stings to lock up at least 26 people in the Chicago area — and that all of them were either black or Hispanic.

​Look at what happened in the Miami case-four men dead- gunned down by police armed like an elite military anti-terror force, not like civilian law enforcement officers.

Sure money was paid to the families of the men murdered by the police but no criminal prosecutions, no employment repercussions-business as usual.

Our country criticizes these type of human rights abuses in heavy-handed Latin American or Middle Eastern governments, but here, it’s an acceptable price to pay-for a “Drug Free Society.”

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