Dozens of defendants are claiming racial bias in a legal battle brewing in Chicago’s federal court over the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ signature sting operation, reports the Chicago Tribune. A team of lawyers led by the University of Chicago Law School is seeking to dismiss charges against more than 40 defendants in Chicago. The undercover probes, a staple of the ATF since the mid-1990s, have ensnared hundreds of defendants across the country.
A recently unsealed study by a nationally renowned expert concluded that ATF showed a clear pattern of racial bias in picking its targets for the drug stings. The disparity between minority and white defendants was so large that there was “a zero percent likelihood” it happened by chance, the study found. The vast majority of those swept up in the stings in Chicago were minorities, and a close examination of the criminal backgrounds of some of those targeted raises questions about whether they were truly the most dangerous gun offenders that ATF was aiming to remove from the street.