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More lawmakers want answers in faulty ATF operation in Milwaukee


MILWAUKEE (WTAQ) - More federal lawmakers say they want to get to the bottom of a faulty operation in Milwaukee by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

The agency set up a fake storefront to buy illegal guns and drugs from felons.

But the Journal Sentinel said the place was burglarized after 10 months – $35,000 in merchandise were stolen – and authorities left a sensitive document behind with personal information about the undercover agents involved.

Menomonee Falls House Republican Jim Sensenbrenner said he would conduct his own investigation as the chair of the House SubCommittee on Crime.

Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson said he contacted the Justice Department on behalf of David Salkin, the owner of the building.

Salkin said the agency owes him $15,000 for damages and utility bills. The ATF claims it’s much less.

Johnson says the ATF is threatening Salkin instead of paying up. The senator called the operation “reckless at best … and it cannot be allowed to continue.”

Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley said the account of the botched operation made the ATF sound like the Keystone Kops. And as the ranking member of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee, he promised to ask questions.

An agency spokesman is not commenting on the investigation.

The U.S. attorney only mentions the good things about the operation – the seizures of 145 guns and 30 arrests. The Journal Sentinel said the wrong people were charged in three of those arrests.