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Missouri federal agents spent four months working undercover out of a false store front in order to tempt convicted felons by arranging drug and weapons transactions. This operation resulted in criminal charges against more than 150 defendants in the U.S. District Court, federal court and the St. Louis Circuit Court, among others.

According to the report, 78 percent of those who were brought into police custody were already convicted felons with more than 500 prior convictions. The St. Louis mayor claimed that the arrests will reduce gun violence and will make the city safer. Those involved would reveal no information about how they targeted the criminals. Court records indicate however that a fake drug stash house, a fake storefront and street-level strategies were used.

While this model of operation resulted in the seizure of more than 260 weapons and several pounds of drugs, numerous local defense attorneys have complained. In some cases, defense attorneys complained that their clients were lured in committing crimes and were then being taken into custody and were charged based on fictional crimes. Several federal judges have also criticized the tactics used by the operation officials.

In some cases, these types of tactics may violate an individual's rights. An experienced Saint Louis attorney may be able to help their client by investigating the circumstances of the arrest. The attorney may be able to have the charges dropped or reduced if they find fault in how the officers conducted the arrest. A criminal defense lawyer could also attempt to challenge any of the evidence, depending on how it was obtained, that the prosecution has against their clients in order to avoid a criminal record and any other punishments that their client may face.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Four-month ATF operation in St. Louis yields arrests, seizures of guns and drugs", Robert Patrick, July 11, 2013

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