By May 29, 2013 2 Comments Read More →

Members Of LAPD SWAT Team Caught Selling Department Guns

By Micah David Naziri

Back in the 90s when i was working as a security supervisor for P&G, watching untold amounts of corruption in that capacity (another story for another time perhaps), i began training with Cincy SWAT guys in preparations for a potential career kicking in doors and being an all around good guy. The problem was that i wasn’t much into the regular beat cop path and one didn’t get to SWAT without working a beat for some years. Shooting the bad guy hostage taker? Sure, i could do that, but i wasn’t going to be able to handle being a beat cop if the interactions that i had with such cops proved any indication… It was around that time that i was first offered illegal guns through rogue cops and military recruiters…

Every major department had a guy selling guns on the side. None of the guys i trained with were anything but stand up fellas. None of them was involved in this, but i’m sure they heard rumors. Ironically enough, it was outside of law enforcement circles that i was offered the connections with military recruiters and the like selling LEGAL guns illegally.

No, this wasn’t the “Gun Show Loophole,” it was the LAW ENFORCEMENT LOOPHOLE. Today, the FBI is investigating whether members of the Los Angeles Police Department’s elite SWAT and Special Investigations Section units violated the law by purchasing large numbers of custom-made handguns and reselling them for profit as well…

It would seem that while this is a more tame version of what i encountered, it highlights a similar problem: no matter what gun control measures are legislated, the black market will continue to be supplied as long as we have armed law enforcement and military. As folks from the Peace and Freedom Party commented when i asked their take on the matter of gun prohibition, “disarm the State first, then we’ll talk.” It would seem that far from hyperbole, their position was quite realistic. As long as the State is armed, rogue elements will supply the black market. All reasonable talk of gun control must focus first and foremost on how to shrink the black market, not the legal means of controlled and regulated sales. But if the so-called “War on Drugs” is any indication, we don’t learn from history very well.

The Federal authorities inquiry into the alleged gun sales by LAPD came after an earlier internal LAPD investigation found no wrongdoing on the part of officers. But on Friday, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck acknowledged that that probe was “clearly lacking” and said the department has opened a second investigation of the weapons transactions that is still ongoing.

Suspicion over the guns first arose in May 2010, when a lieutenant in the LAPD’s Metropolitan Division, which includes SWAT, attempted to inventory the division’s weapons, according to a whistle-blower lawsuit filed by the lieutenant and a report last year by the LAPD’s inspector general, Alex Bustamante.

While accounting for the weapons, Lt. Armando Perez discovered that SWAT members had purchased an unknown number of pistols from the gun maker Kimber Manufacturing and were “possibly reselling these Kimber firearms for large profits to people outside of Metro SWAT,” according to the lawsuit and Bustamante’s report.

Sales records indicated that as many as 324 pistols had been purchased from Kimber, Bustamante reported. There are only about 60 officers in SWAT, and the guns were intended to be used by the officers while on duty.

According to California law all firearms sales, including private and gun show sales, transfers or loans, must be brokered through a licensed California gun dealer. This is the sort of legislation that has been pushed for nation-wide by gun control advocates. But the actions of rogue officers call into question whether this is a moot point as long as such black market sales are enabled by corrupt law enforcement and military, with a still soaring public demand.

Allegations in a whistleblower lawsuit allege that the guns, valued at up to $3,000 each, were sold to individual SIS Unit members by Kimber for around $600 each, who then sold them at or near retail value to other officers outside of the SIS unit as well as third party individuals that were not law enforcement officers. This struck me as ironic as it was the same price i was offered for black market M16s by rogue military officials in the 90s… But that’s ancient history i suppose. Naturally, i never had a bit of interest in such illegal weapons.

Now that the FBI is involved the LAPD has reopened the investigation that found no wrongdoing two years ago. This in light of the fact that investigators never bothered speaking to either Lt. Perez or any of the officers suspected of reselling the guns. It remains to be seen what will happen to the officers involved, but it is likely that the FBI will not have the same hangups in conducting a thorough investigation that the LAPD did.

Still, i cannot help but reflect on the irony that the pundits and politicians calling for gun bans, and increasing restrictions – some of them no doubt quite reasonable – have done nothing to address the issue of law enforcement and military supplying the illegal black market, which flourishes in the absence of legal, controlled alternatives. Moreover, as i continued my role in security for members of the music industry in California, i saw first hand in South Central, the Jungles, South East Dago and so many other places that there was no shortage of supply when it came to weapons which were clearly illegal across the board. This has always left me asking the same thing that i wonder in relation to the so-called “War on Drugs”… that is “who stands to profit” from the alleged “war”?

Where there is a demand, a supply will emerge somewhere and by way of someone. The question is, as always, will that supply be safe, legal, and highly regulated, or will it be the result of reactionary prohibition, and thus illegal and unregulated?

Something to think about next time some billionaire like Mayor Bloomberg, surrounded by armed security talks about banning the very guns that his detail carries illegally everywhere he goes, all over the country. Ask yourself “who stands to profit,” whether it is the war on drugs or the war on guns.


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