South Baltimore ATF operation: a set-up?
Last week, we reported on court documents showing that ATF agents were involved in a gun battle in South Baltimore with a group of men recruited by an undercover officer to steal back cocaine for a Mexican cartel supplier. Officials have declined to comment on whether the premise of the operation was a ruse, but consider this article from the Austin American Statesman last year:
The five men met at a South Austin hotel last month with someone they thought was a disgruntled member of a local drug-trafficking organization.
They brought pistols, rifles, gloves, duct tape, zip ties , bulletproof vests and extra boxes of ammunition for what they thought would be a robbery that would net them as much as 30 kilograms (about 66 pounds) of cocaine from a local drug stash house, according to a federal court affidavit.
But the person who set up the robbery was an undercover agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the men accused of being prepared to carry it out were arrested.The Aug. 18 bust was the second in about a month made by the ATF in Austin under similar circumstances, according to arrest affidavits: An undercover agent tells a suspect that he knows of a drug stash house and asks the suspect if he wants to rob it. That suspect recruits others, and when they are about to carry out the robbery, they are all arrested.
In the article, defense attorneys raised the possibility that the informant and agents had committed entrapment. But court records show those hopes were quickly dashed - all pleaded guilty within a few months and received lengthy prison sentences.
In the South Baltimore case, agents say they have Dawron Kip Mason on tape explaining how he was experienced in such home invasion/robberies and would get together a group to carry out the task. Agents moved in for the arrest after Mason and the undercover agent discussed the final preparations, but the suspects tried to speed off, striking cars and driving through a fence before firing at officers, according to court documents.