The Justice Department has launched a multistate search for firearms and firearms parts stolen from a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) facility, CBS News reports. The main concern is that the weapons may fall into the wrong hands. Along with staging a criminal and internal affairs investigations, ATF officials notified the Justice Department’s inspector general, who has been critical of some ATF weapons disposal procedures. Authorities have one suspect in custody, Christopher Yates. According to court documents, officials found “a firearm concealed in a book bag on the front passenger seat floorboard” when they searched Yates’ vehicle on March 1.
Agents determined the pistol had a serial number on it. The ATF computer system confirmed the firearm had been listed as “disposed” by the ATF’s National Disposal Branch in 2017. On Sunday night, officials sent a communication urging stepped up efforts to locate any stolen firearms from the facility. They were concerned buyers may not know where they originated. “ATF has made substantial progress in recovering the stolen property and is working around-the-clock to pursue all leads,” the agency said. An inspector general report last year said the destruction of firearms and ammunition is supposed to be “witnessed by an ATF Special Agent and a credentialed employee or contractor who then signs a report of destruction certifying that the firearm has been destroyed.” That same report identified concerns about ATF’s “ability to track seized ammunition.” ATF officials said there could be more arrests and that they did not know how many firearms or firearms parts were stolen.