May 07, 2008

11 Months?

A woman can turn a fertilized egg into a human being in nine months. Apparently it takes longer than that to amass enough evidence to bust a weapons dealer.

A Phoenix gun store raided by federal and state officials Tuesday provided hundreds of assault rifles and other guns to violent drug cartels in Mexico, where such weapons are used in deadly confrontations between rival cartels and against law enforcement officers, officials said.

The gun store's owner, George Iknadosian, 46, was arrested following the raid, as were two Mexican brothers who authorities say recruited "straw buyers" to go into X Caliber Guns and purchase weapons that would then be trafficked to the drug cartels.

A "straw purchase" simply involved having someone who can legally purchase a gun do so knowingly for someone who can't legally purchase a gun. In this case, Iknadosian is accused of selling more that 650 AK-pattern rifles to drug cartels through buyers arranged by two legal Mexican immigrants.

Why, though, did the investigation take eleven months? Conducting a sting on a suspect dealer should take an hour at the most once the targeted dealer is known. It should be readily apparent to any honest dealer that a "strawman" purchase is underway within a few minutes, and if this account is correct, the undercover buyers even indicated the weapons would be shipped to Mexico. There is no apparent ambiguity here.

Please don't get me wrong—as someone who used to work behind the gun counter myself, I want criminal dealers put away. My concern is that during the course of the 11 months it took to develop a relatively-localized felony into a major international arms-trafficking bust, that other criminals—not officers posing as criminals— may have been able to continue to purchase firearms.

I certainly hope that this is not the case, and that the ATF wasn't once again putting lives at risk while seeking publicity and funding increases with a high profile bust.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at May 7, 2008 02:06 PM

Federal prosecutors work rather slow. But they get a conviction most of the time.

Posted by: ExUrbanKevin at May 7, 2008 02:34 PM

Valid point Kevin, but I wouldn't put the BATF above grandstanding...

Posted by: Gus Bailey at May 7, 2008 03:15 PM

I would say, Bob, that given the lengths that defense lawyers and modern juries will go to exonerate criminals, that the ATF wanted to make sure that they had all the i's properly dotted and the t's crossed just right before proceeding further.

Sad commentary on our current criminal justice system, ain't it?

Posted by: C-C-G at May 7, 2008 07:20 PM

From the article:

investigation into X Caliber Guns began 11 months ago after authorities traced some guns involved in crimes, including homicide, in Mexico to the store, Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard said.

Not sure why anyone would think that crimes and murder in Mexico would be a priority here. I'm glad that the ATF is shutting this thing down but it doesn't surprise me that it would take this long given that the investigation started from crimes occuring outside of the US.

Posted by: matta at May 8, 2008 08:57 AM

It is about glory for the prosecutor. I knew a woman who went to the police to inform on the guy who had been molesting her. She was 16, he had been on her since 11. They CHOSE to delay, to accumulate enough cases that they could put him away longer. Meanwhile, he molested more kids.

Posted by: Smarty at May 8, 2008 10:13 AM