December 9th, 2013 | by NIGEL JAQUISS News | Posted In: Cops and Courts, Drugs, Media

Portland ATF Agents Paid Disabled Man To Get Tattoo of Joint-Smoking Squid

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The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published an investigation Sunday about the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, leading the article with an extraordinary anecdote of alleged ATF misbehavior in East Portland:

Aaron Key wasn't sure he wanted a tattoo on his neck.

Especially one of a giant squid smoking a joint. But the guys running Squid's Smoke Shop in Portland, Ore., convinced him: It would be a perfect way to promote their store.

They would even pay him and a friend $150 apiece if they agreed to turn their bodies into walking billboards. Key, who is mentally disabled, was swayed. He and his friend, Marquis Glover, liked Squid's.

It was their hangout.

The 19-year-olds spent many afternoons there playing Xbox and chatting with the owner, "Squid," and the store clerks. So they took the money and got the ink etched on their necks, tentacles creeping down to their collarbones. It would be months before the young men learned the whole thing was a setup.

The guys running Squid's were actually undercover ATF agents conducting a sting to get guns away from criminals and drugs off the street. The tattoos had been sponsored by the U.S. government; advertisements for a fake storefront.

The teens found out as they were arrested and booked into jail.
The Journal's sweeping investigative report shows how ATF agents used rogue tactics nationwide to nab criminals in highly publicized stings at fake storefronts.

In Portland, the sting was called "Operation Kraken," and received significant press attention. ATF agents rented a shop on Northeast 127th Avenue across from H.B. Lee Middle School, set up an X-Box for teens to play for free, and bought guns. They arrested 36 people.

Read the rest of the Wisconsin daily's excellent reporting here.
 
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