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Old January 13, 2002, 12:00 PM   #1
RickD
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BATF Coerces Search Of Wyoming .50BMG Owner

http://meek.sublette.com/roundup/v95n1/v95n1s2.htm

The Sheriff needs you to call him. Hank Ruland (307) 367-4378. I called. That is the current number.

From the pages of The Pinedale Roundup
Volume 95, Number 1 -

brought to you online by Pinedale Online


ATF Search - Coerced Consent
Man agrees to search at gunpoint
by Jason Mundy

At approximately 9:30 on a quiet Sunday morning last month, Bargerville resident Craig Storer woke to someone pounding so hard on his front door that it was "literally shaking the trailer." Running in his pajamas to look out the window, Mr. Storer saw a Deputy Sheriff's truck and a metallic silver vehicle parked in his driveway. Unknown to Mr. Storer, outside a swarm of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) agents and Sublette County Sheriff's deputies had been positioned at various locations around his bright blue trailer.

Law enforcement officers were also positioned on Highway 191, leading toward the frontage road where Mr. Storer's trailer is located.

ATF agents and Sheriff's deputies were there to search Mr. Storer's trailer for illegal firearms. According to Sheriff's Detective, Paul Raftery, the Sheriff's office had information that Mr. Storer possessed automatic weapons and explosives. Because the Sheriff's office has no jurisdiction to enforce laws pertaining to illegal firearms, the ATF was contacted.

The ATF began its own investigation of Mr. Storer, said Mr. Raftery. The ATF and the Sheriff's deputies arrived at Mr. Storer's trailer without a search warrant.

According to Mr. Raftery, the ATF had been working with the Assistant U.S. Attorney and was in the process of getting a warrant, but it was the decision of Resident Agent in Charge, Gilbert Salinas of the ATF office in Cheyenne, to go ahead with the planned raid, without one.

Jeans still in his hand, Mr. Storer opened the door of the trailer leading outside to a small
front porch. What he saw was the muzzle of a pistol pointing directly at his head. His first
thought was to back up.

"I thought I was being robbed," said Mr. Storer.

Officers began shouting orders for Mr. Storer to turn around. As he did, he caught sight of
two other men outside a small window pointing pistols in his direction. According to Mr.
Storer, none of the men who had guns pointed at him identified themselves as law enforcement officers.

One of the ATF agents ordered Mr. Storer to stand face against a nearby wall with his hands on his head, and then proceeded to search him.

"At the time I still didn't realize that this was ATF," he said.

The agent then asked who was in the house and Mr. Storer called out to his girlfriend, who was in the back bedroom.

"They told me they were there to search the house. I asked then if they had a warrant," said Mr. Storer. They did not. An ATF agent instead presented Mr. Storer with a consent form to sign allowing the ATF agents and the Sheriff's deputies to search his trailer.

Mr. Storer, still in his pajamas and his hands on his head, surrounded by armed officers, was given an option. He and his girlfriend, who was wearing a t-shirt and little else, could wait outside in the cold until the ATF could obtain a warrant on a Sunday morning, or he could just sign the consent.

Mr. Storer was furious that both law enforcement agencies arrived to search his trailer with
no warrant, based on information provided to the ATF and deputies by informants. He said if they ATF was keeping surveillance on him and had received warnings about supposed illegal weapons, they should have gotten a warrant.

"This sort of think happened in Nazi Germany," said Mr. Storer.

"My girlfriend was freaking out. I'm thinking do I sign or don't I? I don't owe them anything. I haven't done anything wrong."

Mr. Storer, still at gunpoint, decided to sign the consent form.

Once they had consent, agents began asking Mr. Storer if he had any illegal weapons. They wanted to know what guns he had, how many guns he had, and where they were located. They asked him if he had or had made any silencers. For the next twenty minutes ATF agents and Sheriff's deputies searched the trailer. They rummaged through boxes, examined gun cases and rifled through shelves looking for illegal firearms and parts kits that could convert guns from semi-automatic to fully automatic.

What they found were a couple of shotguns, two semi-automatic assault rifles ( a replica of
an AK-47 and an M-16) a 9mm Berreta pistol, a .50 caliber single-shot, long-range rifle and a few other standard field rifles. All the guns found were legal. However, the .50 caliber did raise some eyebrows with ATF agents, said Mr. Storer.

"I've shot rounds through a car hood from a mile away with this gun," said Mr. Storer, as he displayed the rifle. The length of the gun is about 3 feet long, painted camouflage and looks menacing. Mr. Storer said there is a movement by the US government to classify the gun as a destructive weapon, which could make it illegal to purchase, even as a parts kit.

But the ATF did not confiscate the gun, which they had the legal authority to do under new anti-terrorism laws passed after Sept. 11. Mr. Storer readily admitted that he had bought the gun as a parts kit from a dealer, who he thought, had been arrested earlier for having 32 unregistered machine guns.

As the search continued, one sheriff's deputy emerged from the back bedroom and walked into where Mr. Storer, his girlfriend and a few agents and deputies were sitting, carrying a small bottle containing a white powder.

"They actually asked me if it was Anthrax," said Mr. Storer. Instead of Anthrax, the powder was cretonne, a dietary supplement for weightlifters, said Mr. Storer. The bottle and powder were taken and have not been returned by Sheriff's Deputies," he said.

After the search was conducted, which did not turn up anything illegal, both agencies vacated the trailer, leaving Mr. Storer angered and dumbfounded at what just happened.

"One of the agents told me as he was leaving that it must of been one of my doper friends
that turned me in. That really ****** me off."

Mr. Storer has no prior convictions in Wyoming and said that his record is completely clean, except for a DUI a couple of years ago. He emphasized how frightening it was that a government agency could barge in his home and intimidate him into signing a consent to search form simply on the claims of an informant.

"My home is my sovereignty. My entire soul, everything I have in this world was bared to
Sublette County and the Federal Government, legally," he concluded.
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Old January 13, 2002, 12:07 PM   #2
Hand_Rifle_Guy
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This poor guy needs a good lawyer. Someone is due for a severe butt-reaming. Several someones.
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Old January 13, 2002, 12:17 PM   #3
RickD
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I called the Sheriff's office just now. I told them I was calling about the Storer raid. I asked how the sheriff could have allowed the BATF to operate in his county. I was told that I needed to call the liason in the morning. I told him that if what was printed in the Round Up was true, that the Sheriff should lose his job. He put me on hold to respond to a traffic call. I will call back tomorrow.
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Old January 13, 2002, 12:18 PM   #4
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Just Say No
In drug searches, is "consent" copspeak for "coercion"?
By Jacob Sullum
http://reason.com/sullum/011102.shtml

Years ago I wrote a story about a crackdown on marijuana growers in which state and federal agents knocked on the doors of people who had purchased indoor gardening equipment. Since they didn't have enough evidence for search warrants, they had to ask for permission to look around.

To my amazement, the operation resulted in hundreds of arrests for marijuana cultivation. I found it hard to understand why someone with a closet or a basement full of contraband would consent to a search when he could avoid arrest simply by saying no.

Eventually I realized that the pot growers who let the cops in must have believed they had no other choice. They probably assumed they'd already been caught and that failing to cooperate would only make matters worse.

Even people with perfectly legal horticultural hobbies worried about the consequences of resisting men with badges and guns. "I had the impression that if I made them get a warrant," an orchid grower told me, "they would tear the house apart." [ed. This is a normal "punishment" for exercising one's constitutional rights and making the officer
do his job by getting a warrent.]

If people in their own homes can be intimidated into allowing searches by displays of authority, imagine how travelers must feel when confronted by armed government agents within the close confines of a bus. That's the question posed by a case the U.S. Supreme Court recently agreed to hear.

In a random drug sweep on February 4, 1999, three police officers boarded a Greyhound bus that had stopped in Tallahassee on the way from Ft. Lauderdale to Detroit. Two officers went to the back of the bus and slowly walked forward, asking passengers about their itineraries and luggage. A third kneeled in the driver's seat, facing the passengers.

Approaching Christopher Drayton and Clifton Brown Jr., who were sitting next to each other a few rows from the rear, one officer held up his badge and quietly identified himself as an investigator with the Tallahassee Police Department.

"We're conducting bus interdiction, attempting to deter drugs and illegal weapons being transported on the bus," he explained. "Do you have any bags on the bus?"

Drayton and Brown both pointed to a green bag in the luggage rack. "Do you mind if I check it?" the officer asked. "Go ahead," Brown replied.

The police found no contraband in the bag, but the officer later said he was suspicious because both men were wearing baggy pants and heavy jackets despite the warm weather. He also said they seemed "overly cooperative."

The officer asked if he could pat Brown down, and Brown agreed. Discovering "hard objects which were inconsistent with human anatomy" on Brown's thighs, the police arrested him, put him in handcuffs, and took him off the bus. Then the officer turned to Drayton and asked, "Mind if I check you?"

It's hard enough to believe that Brown knew he was perfectly free to send the police on their way but nevertheless consented to a pat-down search, despite the fact that he had 483 grams of cocaine in his underwear. It's simply inconceivable that Drayton, who was carrying 295 grams, could see his buddy hauled off in handcuffs and still make the same mistake. No one capable of dressing himself--not to mention incorporating bags of cocaine into his outfit--is that stupid.

But according to the police, that's what happened.

A far more plausible explanation is that Brown and Drayton felt compelled to cooperate under the circumstances. Most people probably would, unless they were told they had a right to say no. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit therefore concluded that the Tallahassee police had violated the Fourth Amendment's guarantee against "unreasonable searches and seizures."

According to the Supreme Court, the key issue in cases involving warrantless "consent" searches is "whether a reasonable person would feel free to decline the officers' requests or otherwise terminate the encounter....'Consent' that is the product of official intimidation or harassment is not consent at all. Citizens do not forfeit their constitutional rights when they are coerced to comply with a request that they would prefer to refuse."

The officer who patted down Brown and Drayton said he had searched about 800 buses in the previous year. In what must have amounted to thousands of encounters with innocent citizens, only half a dozen passengers had declined to cooperate. It seems unlikely that they were the only ones who preferred not to have police officers rummage through their bags or feel their thighs.

© Copyright 2002 by Creators Syndicate Inc.
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Old January 13, 2002, 12:46 PM   #5
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"But the ATF did not confiscate the gun (the .50 cal), which they had the legal authority to do under new anti-terrorism laws passed after Sept. 11."

What!!?

First I've heard of that. True? or reporter "truth?"
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Old January 13, 2002, 12:46 PM   #6
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The problem is if you do not consent, you will be shot and thrown in a ditch. It doesn't matter if you live in Sheepkisser, Wyoming in a trailer or SoKal in a multi-mil dollar home. Terrorists with badges have visited both places.

The solution is not the silly "reforms" as advocated by Kopel or his ilk. They seek to examine trees instead of the forest.

The solution is to abolish the NFA of 1934, the SSA of 1968, and the FOPA of 1986. Eliminate the reason they were there in the first place. Restore our liberty and safety, abolish the gun laws.
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Old January 13, 2002, 01:30 PM   #7
bruels
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Quote:
Mr. Storer, still at gunpoint, decided to sign the consent form.
Sounds like coercion to me.

I would think that someone who owns an "exotic" rifle that fires a .50 BMG would be prepared on what to do when the BATF and sheriff come a calling.

Worried about spending a cold morning on the ground waiting for a warrant? Worried about being dragged out of your house without being under arrest?

Those BATF agents snookered Mr. Storer into believing a warrant was on the way. A warrant approved by the U.S. Attorney and signed by a federal judge on a Sunday morning? Sure. And while the BATF was snookering Mr. Storer, it sounds like they also snookered the sheriff.

Mr. Storer could have had some fun with this one if he had only had a plan. And a good attorney.
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Old January 13, 2002, 01:59 PM   #8
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Here is what the editor of that paper has to say about this travesty. Most people in these parts would agree with him. I live in a neighboring county and I hadn't heard about this story until RickD posted here. I'll do some digging.

http://meek.sublette.com/roundup/v96n15/v96n15s3.htm
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Old January 13, 2002, 02:24 PM   #9
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I just came across this on another board and was coming over here to post it myself. Thanks for beating me to it!

If you can read this article and not get upset about it, you're not an American IMO. This violates every tenet of what this country is supposed to be about. Every person who participated in this illegal raid should be tossed in jail, at the very least. Warrantless search, coercion, endangering the homeowner's life. At least those things. Not going to hold my breath, though. After all, for any real accountability to happen the government would have to take action against the government. And we all know that isn't going to happen.

I guess the thing that has me most upset as I read this was that if this had happened to me I'd be a dead man. There's no way I would open the door that late at night to a bunch of unidentified people, and even if I did it would be with a gun in my hand. No doubt that would have led to a shooting.

I can't even express how angry this article has gotten me.
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Old January 13, 2002, 03:19 PM   #10
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Bob, forget accountability. It's like asking the Gestapo or the SS to "reform" itself.

You're not going to get what you seek no matter who is President or U.S. Attorney. You need to abolish the law under which they operate.

If no NFA, no JBTs waving guns around in the dead of night in the middle of Wyoming. Of course, all of this is now done in the name of "fighting terrorism" (a few months ago it was for the children).
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Old January 13, 2002, 03:27 PM   #11
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For some, TSHTF time is already here.
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Old January 13, 2002, 03:54 PM   #12
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If the officers in the raid had had a warrant, it would've been a no-knock. They didnt have a warrant. Would simply not answering the door have been a reasonable option? Are you allowed to 'not answer the door' when officers knock on it, or is there some subtle eminent domain thing which disallows not answering the door to officers?
This is important to me, please reply.
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Old January 13, 2002, 04:09 PM   #13
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The BATF is a murderous organization that has no regard for your rights or any othe Americans.

If anybody ever tells you they are with the BATF tell them to stand back because the stink is too bad.

Law enforcement deserves no respect as long as they tolerate the antics of the BATF in their jurisdictions.
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Old January 13, 2002, 04:51 PM   #14
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Sounds like a case of "you get exactly the kind of government that you don't resist". "Resisting" does not require violence. The ATF asked for permission to search, the answer is "not without a warrant".

The police officer is NOT your friend, and ATF types surely aren't. Old saying runs as follows: most people sound a lot smarter with their mouths shut, than they do with them open. The ATF said they would get a warrant, do that. Please stop by with it, when you get it, I wiill likely still be here.
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Old January 13, 2002, 05:10 PM   #15
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Yeah, but could he have lawfully not answered the door?
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Old January 13, 2002, 05:11 PM   #16
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Edward

Folks out here aren't afraid to answer their door when someone knocks. They shouldn't have to be. At least, up until now. Wyoming is the most sparsely populated state in the nation, and Sublette County is the most sparsely populated county in Wyoming. There is no need for the ATF and of all people, the sheriff, to be pulling this kind of horse manure.

C.R Sam

Agreed.
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Old January 13, 2002, 05:20 PM   #17
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Sheriff's e-mail address

scso@coffey.com

I'm sure he would like to hear from as many people on this subject as is possible.
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Old January 13, 2002, 05:38 PM   #18
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I'm not talking about being afraid to answer the door. We shouldnt have to be, point well taken.

I'm talking about if an officer knocks on the door, you look out and see LEO's and decide hmmm, I'm not in the mood to speak to them today, I wont answer it. Is there some presumption of law or whatever, that obligates one to answer the door? If you do not answer the door, can they then label you a 'barricaded suspect' (Or whatever), and proceed to enter your home anyway? Or would you not answering the door give them probable cause of anything?
We're assuming that they have no warrant, or else it would've been announced, OK?
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Old January 13, 2002, 05:39 PM   #19
labgrade
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& to Edward,

Answer your door - if no warrant, tell them to politely "please leave," say no more & close the door. AFAIK, all legal & then throws the ball in their court.

Frankly, if they wouldn't leave, I'd call the Sheriff to press tresspassing charges & if, after being advised to "git," (& door shut), they attempted entry, at that time I would be defending my home against unlawful entry by armed thugs. Response would be brisk ....

---

Nope. Not advocating violence - merely actions to put a stop to it.

As far as this type behavior & "they should be held accountable" - yes, I agree, but that's in the ballpark of "Congress oughta pass a law that does this same thing" - right. & pigs will fly ....

I wholeheartedly agree with KS. The current laws "allow" this type behavior & even encourage it.

We live in Claire Wolfe's "delicate stage."
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Old January 13, 2002, 05:51 PM   #20
Jeff, CA
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The "Deal You Can't Refuse"

Sounds like BATF is now getting its ROE from Mario Puzo.
 
Old January 13, 2002, 05:52 PM   #21
slick slidestop
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He should never have consented to the search PERIOD
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Old January 13, 2002, 06:16 PM   #22
RickD
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Unverified.

The .50 BMG that Mr. Storer had: a Bob Stewart Maadi-Griffin kit. As you know, Bob was busted by the BATF and his 3,000-name customer list was obtained by them.

Hmmmmm
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Old January 13, 2002, 06:24 PM   #23
Edward429451
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oh, what a fine line we walk to be law abiding. My experiance has been that you fare MUCH better when you consent to nothing and waive no rights...
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Old January 13, 2002, 06:38 PM   #24
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***? If all of the guns were legal, even though the BATF didn't confiscate the .50BMG, how does the Anti-Terrorism bill give them the authority to?
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Old January 13, 2002, 06:58 PM   #25
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My bad, Edward.

I didn't talk to the sheriff, but I just spoke with someone in the sheriff's office. He claims not all the information has been released yet, and that what was reported in the newspaper reflects only one side of the story. He couldn't/wouldn't verify the type of rifle involved. He asked for my name and number, which I gave him, and he said he'd tell the sheriff I called. Sounds like the BATF may still consider this an active case. More later?
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