ATF Chief Questioned over Alleged Exploitation of Mentally Disabled

ATF Chief Questioned over Alleged Exploitation of Mentally Disabled

On April 2nd House Oversight and Government Reform Committee members questioned ATF Chief B. Todd Jones about the agency’s alleged use in operations and arrest of mentally disabled persons.

The Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reported, “The ATF used mentally disabled people and then arrested them on drug and gun charges; opened storefronts close to schools and churches, boosting their arrest numbers and penalties; and attracted juveniles with free games and alcohol.”

As committee members referenced these things, Jones “acknowledged deficiencies in undercover storefront operations,” but he said that “ATF agents do not target individuals with mental disabilities in their stings.”

Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) said she found it “hard to believe” that agents couldn’t recognize that individuals they worked with “for weeks” had “severely diminished IQs.” She said some of the defendants had “IQs in the 50s.”

They discussed an operation in Oregon in which ATF agents paid two teens to get tattoos “depicting Squids smoking joints.” One of the teens “had a mental disability.” 

The ATF chief said this should not have happened – that it “was a mistake” – and admitted “training is not what it should be.” He said that the ATF is “working with a national disability rights advocacy group to enhance training.”

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