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Investigation shows unfair serious consequences for minorities

An investigation by a major news organization reveals that the country's top gun-enforcement group chose to target ethnic and racial minorities during recent drug sting operations. The investigation, conducted by USA TODAY, shows that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives targeted minorities during the use of a large number of stings during the past 10 years. The operations lure suspects by promising a major cash payoff for robbing a house known to have a drug stash. Nine out of 10 defendants convicted in those cases are minorities, many of whom had a lack of knowledge that they were targeted by the government agency in the first place.

Authorities at the ATF say they are not profiling defendants -- rather, they are simply targeting "the worst of the worst," violent criminals who are increasing the flow of firearms into neighborhoods. They explain that they are using the stings to identify violent criminals who have likely already committed crimes in dangerous areas. In many cases, the defendants already have long criminal histories of drug offenses and drug distribution, among other allegations.

Experts say that the revelations are particularly disconcerting because they use questionable search and seizure techniques to enlist criminal defendants in new crimes. Instead, those resources could be used to solve existing crimes. By using this method of enticement, officers are able to choose the defendants they want to target -- and those people disproportionately represent racial and ethnic minorities.

Even federal judges agree that an obvious bias has been shown toward minorities, a condemning situation for the ATF indeed. Racial profiling is obviously wrong, and the fact that major government agencies may be engaging in this practice should cause us all to take a second look at the criminal justice system. No one should be subject to illegal search and seizure, and they certainly should not be entrapped into committing new crimes.

Source: USA Today, "Investigation: ATF drug stings targeted minorities" Brad Heath, Jul. 20, 2014

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