A new report from Columbia Law School Prof. Jeffrey Fagan found “strong, consistent and statistically significant” evidence that federal gun agents singled out minorities for controversial drug stings in Chicago, reports USA Today. The stings were a centerpiece of efforts by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to target violent crime. Agents lured suspects with the promise of a huge payday for robbing a drug “stash house” that did not exist, then left them facing long prison sentences for plotting to resell the imaginary drugs.
USA Today has reported that at least 91 percent of the people agents charged nationwide were racial or ethnic minorities. The ATF stings seek to enlist suspected criminals in new crimes, rather than merely solving old ones, giving agents unusually wide latitude to select who will be targeted. The new report is the most detailed examination of ATF’s tactics. The Justice Department insisted that it be sealed when it was filed this month in federal court in Chicago. It was unsealed on Friday after a request by USA Today. The report was filed with motions by a University of Chicago legal clinic to dismiss federal charges in three ATF sting cases because agents intentionally targeted minorities.