|ATF agents across the country have been assigned to search for guns and gun parts that were supposed to have been destroyed at an ATF facility but were stolen by a guard there. (Photo: Associated Press file)|
ATF agents across the country have been working to track down thousands of guns and firearms parts that had been seized by law enforcement and were supposed to be destroyed but were stolen first, according to sources familiar with the effort.
The agents are searching for some of their own retired service weapons as well as guns from other federal law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and DEA.
All of the weapons had been sent to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' National Firearms and Ammunition Destruction Branch in Martinsburg, W.Va., to be shredded, according to court documents and congressional letters.
A longtime guard at the ATF facility has admitted to carting off thousands of firearms, gun parts and ammunition and selling them over several years.
Christopher Yates, 52, a guard who worked as a contract employee for ATF for 16 years, was charged in federal court in West Virginia. He pleaded guilty in April to possession of a stolen gun and stealing government property.