Friday, November 29, 2013

"Santa Rosa, Calif.: 80 youth march surrounded by 26 cop cars; Community demands justice for Andy Lopez!"

Unite for Justice against Police Murder and Systematic Cover-Up! [link]
Campaign for Justice for Andy Lopez Cruz! (d. 2013-10-22; Santa Rosa) [link]

2013-11-29 by Richard Becker for "" []:
A November 26 march organized by high school and middle school youth protesting the police killing of 13-year-old Andy Lopez was met with overwhelming force by the Santa Rosa Police Department. The SRPD deployed 26 police cruisers and six motorcycle units to temporarily stop the march of about 80 young people, arresting one marcher and citing 12 others.
The pretext for this massive and outrageous deployment of police power was that the marchers were in the street on Mendocino Avenue, but the seven previous protests of the murder of Andy Lopez had all taken to the streets of Santa Rosa without incident. Thousands of people have marched and rallied in an outpouring of anger and grief unprecedented in the city’s history.
After the arrests, the march was successfully completed to the office of Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch, where the protestors demanded that Ravitch indict sheriff’s deputy Erick Gelhaus for the killing of Lopez.
A broad-based Justice Coalition for Andy Lopez, incorporating many organizations in the area, has been formed and has charted an energetic campaign spanning the coming months. Actions are focused on the call for County sheriff’s Gelhaus to be indicted.
Thousands of children, youth and adults from around the world have posted photos and messages, in a tremendous outpouring of grief, anger and solidarity on the coalition’s Facebook page.
Andy Lopez, an 8th grade student, was shot and killed by Gelhaus on October 22, while walking with a BB gun in a field near his home in the southern part of Santa Rosa, a city of 160,000 located 50 miles north of San Francisco. That day, two Sonoma County sheriff's deputies pulled up in their patrol car behind Lopez. Gelhaus jumped out of the passenger’s sheet, took a firing position behind the door and yelled to Lopez to “drop the gun.” As Lopez, undoubtedly startled, began to turn to see who was yelling at him Gelhaus opened fire, hitting him seven times.
According to three eyewitnesses, only 2-3 seconds elapsed between the shouted command and the shooting.
Gelhaus, who admits that he’s “not sure” if he identified himself as a police officer according to media reports, claims that he believed Lopez was carrying a high-powered assault rifle and that the boy posed a threat to Gelhaus and his partner by turning and raising the barrel of the gun in their direction. The deputy who was driving the patrol car did not open fire.
The fatal bullet pierced Lopez’s upper right chest and went through both lungs and his heart, killing him almost instantly. According to Arnoldo Casillas, attorney for the Lopez family, the trajectory of the bullet definitively demonstrates that Andy had just begun to turn in the direction of the shouted command when he was hit with the fatal shot. The autopsy showed that several other bullets struck him when he was face-down on the ground. After the shooting, Gelhaus handcuffed Andy’s lifeless body and ordered the area evacuated.
Gelhaus is not a run-of-the-mill racist cop. He is a self-proclaimed weapons expert and weapons instructor as well as a deputy sheriff. He publishes regularly in weapons journals and websites, including SWAT magazine and the Firing Line Forum.
In a 2006 post titled, “He's Got a Gun!... A BB Gun...” Gelhaus outlined exactly what he would actually do on Oct. 22, 2013. He wrote that if police officers saw someone holding what might or might not be a real gun they should shoot first and later try to convince the authorities that they feared for their lives. “It's going to come down to YOUR ability to articulate to law enforcement and very likely the Court that you were in fear of death or serious bodily injury. I think we keep coming back to this, articulation—your ability to explain why—will be quite significant.”
At a packed press briefing on November 4, attorney Casillas, accompanied by Lopez’s parents, Sujey Lopez Cruz and Rodrigo Lopez, announced the filing of a federal lawsuit. Casillas called the official investigation by the Santa Rosa Police Department “a whitewash,” and said, “It’s a done deal, folks. They [the SRPD] have already concluded it was justified. Shame on them.”

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

2012-09 Human Rights movement in Vallejo

Thin Red Line (Firefighters and snitching)

Like the "Thin Blue Line" against whistleblowing, a code-of-conduct exhibited by the employees of the various Police agencies, almost all Firefighter agencies, volunteer or for-profit, engage in a similer code-of-conduct, nicknamed the "Thin Red Line". This practice gives us insight into not only how harmful or illegal incidents involving firefighters are denied, distorted and covered-up by their departments, but also how the monopolized media publicizes the denials, distortions and cover-ups regardless of the conflict of interest.
For the sake of accuracy, the following stories are part of the work of investigative journalists working for the monopolist "San Francisco Chronicle", which publishes the cover-up tactics of many agencies, regardless...

"D.A. investigates possible firefighter cover-up" 
2013-11-17 by Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross []:
The San Francisco district attorney is investigating whether fellow firefighters tried to cover for Michael Quinn, the allegedly drunken firefighter who crashed his ladder truck into a motorcyclist in the South of Market in June.
"This is not your run-of-the-mill DUI investigation," is all the district attorney's spokesman, Alex Bastian, would say when asked about the possibility that Quinn's colleagues tried to cover up the circumstances of the crash.
Meanwhile, Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White says her office is considering disciplinary action against an unspecified number of firefighters who were on duty the night of the incident.
"We are looking at if things could have gone differently, or if different decisions could have been made," Hayes-White said.
Quinn, a 23-year veteran of the department, was at the wheel of a Station 1 ladder truck when he raced through a red light at Fifth and Howard streets late June 29 on his way to what turned out to be a false alarm.
 The truck collided with a motorcyclist, throwing the rider into a fire hydrant and seriously injuring him.
 Quinn left the crash scene before police arrived about 40 minutes later and did not turn up at Station 1 a few blocks down Howard Street for several hours.
Police obtained security-camera footage that shows Quinn drinking water at the Chieftain Irish Pub at Fifth and Howard in what appeared to be an attempt to sober up before returning to the station, sources say.
 Still, after police caught up to him at the station, Quinn's blood alcohol level was measured at 0.13 percent, above the legal limit for driving of 0.08 percent, sources say. The Fire Department has a zero-tolerance policy for on-duty drinking.
Quinn was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving and hit-and-run, but has yet to be charged. The D.A.'s office says the investigation isn't complete.
 Fire Department sources tell us that no fewer than 21 firefighters, paramedics and others who were on duty the night of the crash have been interviewed by police.
And at least two firefighters, besides Quinn, may face disciplinary action as well.
One is a firefighter who denied being at the Chieftain with Quinn but showed up on security-camera footage talking to him in the bar, according to sources.
 Surveillance camera footage also supposedly contradicted the statement of a department higher-up who said Quinn's ladder truck had nearly cleared the intersection safely before the crash. In fact, the light was red before Quinn reached the intersection, but his rig never slowed down, sources say.
Hayes-White said she had found no evidence of a conspiracy within the department to cover up the crash circumstances.
The chief confirmed that Quinn, who had been on administrative leave without pay since the crash, submitted his resignation Nov. 1 - just in time to avoid a formal dismissal hearing that had been scheduled for that day.
His attorney told us Friday he'd get back to us to discuss the case. We're still waiting.
Like Hayes-White, Firefighters Union President Tom O'Connor rejected the notion of an attempted cover-up.
 "Everybody on duty that night was making every effort possible to assist the police with their investigation," O'Connor said.
"In fact, they called the police once (Quinn) returned to the station."
 After our inquiry last week, Hayes-White said she spoke to District Attorney George Gascón, who told her only that prosecutors "are getting close" to a decision on whether to file charges.

"SF firefighter suspected in drunken crash may lose job" 
2013-07-22  by Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross []:
The San Francisco Fire Department is moving to terminate the firefighter who allegedly drove a ladder truck into a motorcyclist while drunk and then left the scene.
Sources tell us Chief Joanne Hayes-White sent a letter to the Fire Commission on Thursday, asking that 20-year veteran Michael Quinn — who is in rehab outside the city — be fired, even though the police investigation is continuing.
Quinn’s lawyer, James Bustamante, himself a former firefighter, called the termination move “premature” and irresponsible” given that the investigations have not even been completed.
Quinn, 43, a 23-year veteran, was arrested after the crash late June 29 at Fifth and Howard streets, in which the motorcyclist suffered busted ribs and a punctured lung. Quinn, who works at Station 1 on Folsom Street, was driving a ladder truck to what turned out to be a false alarm.
Officials say Quinn stopped the rig but then disappeared after being told that he would have to undergo a drug and alcohol test. He showed up two hours later at the station and was subsequently arrested on suspicion of felony drunken driving and hit-and-run.
Prosecutors, however, opted not to file charges for the time being and told police to do more investigating.
The affair is particularly embarrassing for the Fire Department, because drinking on the job is not a new problem at station houses. It hasn’t helped that it came just a week before at least one Fire Department rig ran over an Asiana Airlines plane crash survivor at San Francisco International Airport, though Hayes-White has so far called that “a tragic accident.”
According to law enforcement sources, Quinn was told by his captain to wait in the truck after the crash until police arrived. Instead, he walked into a nearby bar, where a security camera filmed him drinking pitchers of water before he walked away into the night, the sources said.
About two hours later, Quinn showed up back at Fire Station 1, where he was tested and found to have a blood alcohol count of 0.13 percent, above the legal driving limit of 0.08 percent – and way, way over the departments zero tolerance level, said the sources, speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk about the case.
Police have been trying to reconstruct what Quinn did during the two hours between the crash and his reappearance at Station 1. They’re expected to give their report to the district attorney on Tuesday.
Quinn could contest his firing – and may want to, because under the city’s new retirement law, he could lose his department pension.
“In no way do we want to downplay the tragedy here,” Bustamante said. “But the move to terminate firefighter Quinn is a political move by a department that has a number of active investigations pending and a command staff in near revolt.”

"No fire crews recall hitting girl"
2013-07-10 by Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross []:
While San Francisco police and fire heroics were on full national display, local officials were privately wrestling behind the scenes with the painful possibility that one of their own emergency crews fatally struck one of the two young Chinese girls found dead after the Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crashed.
“We completed our procedures and interviews with everyone, and nobody has any recollection of coming into contact with the victim,’’ said Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our first responders’ efforts under extraordinary circumstances,’’ the chief said.
The drivers of all five trucks that raced to the scene underwent routine drug and alcohol testing.
“All were negative,’’ Hayes-White said.
The Police Department — which is heading the accident investigation — is turning over all its results to the National Transportation Safety Board.
 Fire Lt. Christine Emmons, who was among those who emotionally described her rescue efforts at a press conference Monday, reportedly provided police investigators with an account of arriving on the scene early on to find the girl — concluding she was already dead.
It’s unclear whether the girl had been hit by a rig before Emmons’ crew arrived. Her statement has not been divulged.
 But as Hayes-White told us, “I’m hopeful the coroner’s findings indicate that the fatal injuries were sustained prior to any contact with our apparatus.’’

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Grand Jury investigations

Grand Jury Resistance Project
"Anarchist Grand Jury Cheerleaders, The Grand Jury Resistance Project encourages people to not cooperate with federal authorities investigating a variety of ongoing cases and movements"
2006-08-23 by Chris Thompson from "Eastbay Express":
On the seventeenth floor of San Francisco's Philip Burton Federal Building, a grand jury may or may not have been convened to track down the whereabouts of Daniel Andreas San Diego, the animal-rights activist and prime suspect in the 2003 bombings of Chiron Laboratories and the Shaklee Corporation. As a matter of policy, the US Attorney's office refuses to confirm or deny the existence of any grand jury. But activist Nadia Winstead claims that the feds have subpoenaed her and ordered her to testify about whatever she might know about San Diego. On the morning of August 17, she and roughly sixty people showed up at the courthouse to tell a federal prosecutor to go to hell.
The entrance to the federal building is a hodgepodge of bomb security features masquerading as public art; concrete hillocks rise before the doors, with steel posts driven into the ground before each possible driveway. The tableau has been thoroughly knobbed to keep thrashers from riding their skateboards up and down the paths. At 9 a.m., Winstead and her friends distributed posterboards denouncing the federal government. Although there's little foot traffic around the courthouse, they lined up before the entrance and waved signs reading "Fight repression — resist grand juries" and "Grand jury out of SF."
Winstead, a slight young woman with short brown hair, clogs, and black slacks, doesn't just refuse to talk to the federal government. "I'm not a media type of person," she mumbles. Digging through her possessions, she produces a sheet of paper with sound bites for the press: "The federal government is willing to use every trick in the book to silence our dissent," reads one, "but we will not be silenced." When asked about how long she's lived in the city, or what kind of animal-rights activism she does, her associate Kris Hermes intervened. "You're probably asking the same questions the grand jury is going to," he scolded.
Hermes is one of the main organizers of the Grand Jury Resistance Project, an ad hoc group of lawyers, law students, and self-described "legal activists," including the National Lawyers Guild and Oakland's Midnight Special Law Collective. In the past few years, the federal government has convened grand juries to investigate allegations of bombings and arson related to animal rights, environmentalism, and anarchist demonstrations. In response, Hermes and his colleagues have created a sort of "stop snitching" campaign, in which they not only provide legal advice to subpoenaed activists, but encourage them not to talk, and thus risk going to jail for up to eighteen months.
Grand juries have been on the minds of activists since May 2005, when an FBI agent told a Senate subcommittee that animal-rights and environmental extremists constituted "one of today's most serious domestic terrorism threats." Last year, a federal grand jury was convened to reopen the investigation into the 1971 killing of a San Francisco police officer; several former Black Panthers were jailed for refusing to testify. A grand jury in Eugene has been opened to investigate a string of arson attacks in the Pacific Northwest, and activist Jeff Hogg is sitting in jail for refusing to talk. A grand jury in New Jersey indicted seven people for conspiracy to harass the business affiliates of Huntingdon Life Sciences, a firm that uses animals in pharmaceutical and cosmetic tests.
Earlier this year, Hermes and a few lawyers and fellow activists decided that leftist movements needed a special service to advise people on how a grand jury works, what their rights are, and what they can do if they get a subpoena. The answer, of course, is not much. No judge presides over the grand jury, evidence in defense of grand jury targets cannot be presented, and the proceedings are secret. As a result, Hermes claims, people who don't understand the process can be easily intimidated into spilling their guts, even if the prosecutor is going well beyond the scope of the investigation and looking for basic intelligence about antiwar or animal-rights movements. "They are fishing expeditions," he says of the most recent grand juries. "We educate activists and the public on grand juries in general, and how they are being misused to undermine political movements."
But Hermes and the Grand Jury Resistance Project do more than "demystify" the legal system. They encourage activists to refuse to cooperate altogether by providing emotional support, rallies, and letter-writing campaigns. "People, when they get charged with unfair crimes, they should fight their cases," says Paul Marini, a member of the project. "And when they get called inappropriately before grand juries, they should fight that."
It can't be easy to convince someone to go to jail for more than a year. One of the project's main arguments, to put it rather crudely, is that martyrs strengthen the movement. Just as the grand jury's secrecy creates a climate of fear that their colleagues may have ratted them out, Hermes claims that people who go to jail encourage their colleagues to recommit themselves to the struggle. "Resisting grand juries can also empower a movement not to be intimidated and harassed by this tactic," he says.
Unfortunately, a grand jury's very secrecy makes it impossible to know whether prosecutors are pursuing violent terrorists or intimidating legitimate leftist dissenters. Take the case of Josh Wolf, a San Francisco filmmaker with anarchist sympathies who recently was jailed for refusing to turn over videotapes to a grand jury. The incident being investigated doesn't seem to merit federal attention: During a riot last year, someone set a fire that did minor damage to a cop car that may or may not have been bought with federal money, thus making the vandalism a federal crime. That this rationale has been used to convene a federal grand jury adds to the suspicion that prosecutors are really looking for broad surveillance of inconsequential anarchists.
Other cases are considerably more serious. Daniel Andreas San Diego is wanted for allegedly bombing two laboratories and issuing a communiqué posted on an animal-rights Web site that took credit for the bombings and warned Chiron CEO Sean Lance, "You never know when your house, your car even, might go boom. Who knows, that new car in the parking lot may be packed with explosives."
Grand Jury Resistance Project members acknowledge that Nadia Winstead has been subpoenaed as part of an effort to find San Diego and punish the people who have helped hide him. But they claim this also is part of a larger effort to conduct surveillance on the animal-rights movement in general. When Winstead walked into the grand jury chambers last week, the dozen people who waited in the lobby outside cheered her on, knowing that she wouldn't say a word, and that this might well be the last time they saw her for months. The clock ticked off the minutes while they sat on the cold marble floor. One woman idly bounced a yellow rubber ball over and over. A man in a gray suit walked up and down the hallways, fruitlessly looking for the BALCO case.
Finally, Winstead emerged, looking sheepish and happy. She was free while prosecutors schedule a hearing to determine her fate. Is she a martyr, or a conspirator? Thanks to the secrecy of the grand jury system, the only thing we'll know for sure is that sooner or later, she'll probably be a prisoner.

Beware: Media journalists provide information to police about political activities

This article is about a now-defunct group called "Hazmat 1203", and the text shows how media journalists act as the eyes and ears for security agencies, including the police and FBI, providing useful information about non-violent groups because of political affiliation.

"Starbucks Vandalism: I-Team Investigates"
2003-11-02 from "":
Seventeen Starbucks stores in San Francisco were the target of vandals overnight. (ABC7)

Vandals posted "For Lease" signs on windows to make the stores appear to have gone out of business. (ABC7)

Other political flyers were also posted on the windows. (ABC7)

Nov. 2 - Environmental and animal rights activists have been stepping up their campaigns around the Bay Area the past three months and resorting to extreme measures — vandalizing homes and businesses, even bombing two companies that test products on animals. Now the I-Team has the inside story of the crime spree against Starbucks three months ago. San Francisco Police have all but given up on the case, but the I-Team has found the people responsible for the vandalism — a new group of activists called "Hazmat 1203."
People in parts of San Francisco woke up August 5th to find their local Starbucks apparently out of business.
Dave Lopez, newspaper delivery man: "I thought they were actually closed, it looked real realistic. They're not."
It was an elaborate hoax. Eight Starbucks near Union Square and the Financial District had their windows soaped, locks jammed, and "for lease" signs posted, along with an official-looking statement from Starbucks headquarters titled "Case for Corporate Downsizing."
It said, "At our current market level, Starbucks cannot in good conscience guarantee all of our beans meet both rigorous quality standards as well as our commitment to social responsibility. ... We're scaling back, returning to our roots as a small Seattle coffee chain."
Investigators had a few leads — two witnesses and a blurry surveillance tape.
Dan Noyes: "What's the status of the case now?"
Dewayne Tully, SFPD spokesman: "It is still officially open. It's been difficult to come up with leads. There's not that much evidence."
But if investigators looked more closely, the clues are out there. Some graffiti on a Mission District sidewalk, "What is Hazmat 1203?," and a message on an Internet bulletin board. In June, self-described "radical anarchist conspirators" posted an ad on Craig's List for a Web site systems operator. Computer consultant Wayne Calhoon answered the ad, checked out the group's site, and turned them down.
Wayne Calhoon: "I was not willing to participate at this point because I did not agree with all of their tactics."
Calhoon forgot about his encounter with Hazmat 1203 until a report on ABC7 jarred his memory.
Calhoon: "Clearly, it took an organized effort to strike so many locations."
Two months before the Starbucks vandalism, Calhoon saw a listing on the Hazmat 1203 Web site for "Operation Act Now." The group's leader, using the code name "Marley Fowat," proposed soaping windows at Starbucks and hanging "out of business" signs.
Calhoon thought about calling the SFPD.
Calhoon: "But, I decided that would be counterproductive and would probably go nowhere. So I called the I-Team."
The I-Team made contact with Marley Fowat through the Hazmat 1203 Web site. Fowat took responsibility for the Starbucks vandalism, and agreed to come to ABC7 with another Hazmat 1203 member for an interview.
Marley Fowat: "We see ourselves at the forefront of a social and emotional revolution. And in a sense, we're throwing gasoline on the fire."
That's where they got the name. "Hazmat 1203" is the hazardous materials sign for gasoline. They're trying to get people to question authority, to question the status quo. In Operation Victory, they pasted phony pro-war posters around Santa Cruz. This one reads, "Korea, you're next. We'll finish the job." At one anti-war demonstration in San Francisco, Hazmat members posed as FBI agents — black suit and tie, white shirt, sunglasses and an earpiece.
Cal: "Saying, 'Yeah, we got a spotter on the rooftop, yeah, you got a line of sight on that one? Roger that.' That's what Hazmat 1203 is all about."
Dan Noyes: "And the point was what, there?"
Cal: "To get people thinking, 'Would the government really do that to you, would you accept that from the government?'"
Their most high-profile operation so far has been the Starbucks vandalism. They provided a tape to the I-Team that shows how they pulled it off.
Seven members of the group met at 10:30 that night in Union Square, and walked with their buckets right by police officers on duty. They met in an alley, where Marley and Cal explained how the soap and poster-paste should be applied and they discussed their targets.
Activist: "I'm a little concerned with hotels across the street and security cameras and stuff like that."
Then they climbed a fire escape to get water from a parking garage, and prepared the soap and poster-paste.
Activist: "Mixing, mixing, mixing."
And off they go to their targets. It takes them just a couple of minutes to soap a store's windows, to hang the "for lease" sign and the phony Starbucks statement and to jam the locks.
Activist: "You're little worker bees."
It's a wonder they didn't get caught, with curious bystanders all around and cars passing by. Especially when Cal scales an ATM and climbs to the roof to hang one sign. Here, he drapes himself across an awning 15 feet off the ground. They took a lot of risks to send a message to Starbuck's customers.
Cal: "What did they think when they learned it was not real, that it was a prank, that it was designed to get them to reevaluate who they were supporting every single morning before they went to work?"
Cal and Marley say Hazmat 1203 will never turn to violence, that they don't condone the tactics of the radical fringe of the animal rights movement, threatening lives, and even bombing companies
Dan Noyes: "Do you condemn those tactics, or do you understand those tactics in some way?"
Fowat: "Our organization is committed to not doing anything that either hurts people or could result in people being hurt."
Their Web site shows ideas for the future: throwing dummies off the Golden Gate Bridge to symbolize the civilians killed in Iraq, or casting hundreds of blinking bottles out to sea with a message from Hazmat 1203.
Cal: "I think definitely, you will hear from Hazmat 1203 in the very near future."
The authorities will be watching. Both the San Francisco Police Department and the FBI are interested in what the I-Team has uncovered. And Hazmat 1203 is taking more steps to avoid being caught. Their Web site is down right now while they upgrade it.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)

ATF San Francisco Field Division - Northern California Field Offices  

"Arms agents shift focus from gangs to individuals" 
2013-11-03 by Justin Berton from "San Francisco Chronicle" []:
Tehran Palmer of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives describes an Oakland arrest. Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle

The young man from Richmond said he had a grenade launcher with three grenades to sell for $1,000, so he texted a photo of the goods to Tehran Palmer, a buyer who had approached him through a friend.
The budding firearms dealer, 23-year-old Otis Mobley, and two friends arranged a meeting with Palmer in a parking lot near Hilltop Mall. But instead of handing over the military-grade weaponry, one of the men hoisted a semiautomatic pistol to Palmer's head and demanded his cash and car keys.
A team of local and federal agents promptly swarmed the vehicle, wounding one of the suspects in a gunbattle and arresting all three of the men. Palmer, an undercover agent for U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, was uninjured.
The daytime shootout last year was more than just a difficult bust: It was the outgrowth of a strategy change by federal gun authorities, who, working on a tight budget, now concentrate on individual bad actors rather than trying to take down weapons-dealing networks.
The idea is "to do more with less," said Joseph Riehl, special agent in charge of the local office of the ATF, enforcer of the nation's gun laws.
"It's a new business model approach," Riehl said. "It's identifying the worst of the worst and then going after them directly. We're going after the shot-callers, the decision makers, instead of entire gangs, and trying to work our way in."

Making do with less -
It's a coping mechanism for an agency often described as the neglected stepchild of federal law enforcement. With responsibility over more than 300 million guns in circulation and 137,000 federal firearms licensees - along with the explosives industry and illegal trafficking of alcohol and tobacco - the bureau has 2,388 special agents nationwide. That's not a lot more than the 1,600 police officers who patrol San Francisco. In the past decade, the bureau has added exactly 38 agents across the country.
In some places, budget constraints have resulted in fewer boots on the ground, and nowhere are those losses more apparent than in the Bay Area.
The agency's San Francisco field division, which extends to the Oregon border and includes the Central Valley and state of Nevada, had 127 agents in the mid-1990s. Today, even with a national outcry to clamp down on illegal firearms, 62 agents patrol the same sprawling territory.
Last year, despite the widely acknowledged existence of a pipeline of guns moving illegally into California from Nevada, the bureau's Reno office was effectively closed and its six agents reassigned. Riehl said they were needed elsewhere.
In Oakland, which has the highest crime rate in the state, about a half dozen field agents investigate cases, compared with 25 to 30 a decade ago.
"I may not need six agents in Reno right now," Riehl said, noting that some of the Nevada employees were moved to the Bay Area. "But we do need them in Stockton and Oakland today. That's where the data shows us the gun crime is."

Prosecutions down -
The number of cases that the ATF has brought for prosecution has also dropped since the peak staffing years, Riehl said.
"When you have a smaller staff, you have fewer cases to present," Riehl said. "But we're hoping the cases we do bring have an impact on violent crime. Instead of trying to take down Gang X with 30 members, we'll focus on the two or three members of Gang X who are involved in the violent activity."
The agent's day-to-day job has also shifted, from making street contacts to analyzing data from behind a desk.
Palmer, now a supervising agent based in the Dublin office, no longer spends weeks trying to develop one undercover buy. He joined the Oakland office as a rookie nine years ago, when he said the directive was to "try and grab everybody who has an illegal firearm."
Now, reports from local agencies coupled with hot-spot crime sheets and data collected through ShotSpotter, the automated gunshot locator, narrow the agent's efforts.
"It's more, 'Let's focus on the places where people are using guns and the people who we know will use the crime guns,' " Palmer said.
The bureau cemented that strategy change by starting Operation Frontline, which rolled out locally in the Bay Area last year. Rather than embarking on months-long infiltrations into gangs and drug cartels, the ATF relies heavily on local intelligence to identify what authorities call the handful of criminals and gang members who account for a large percentage of gun crime.
Agents work with local and state police to help them identify gun-use patterns and pinpoint traffickers, sellers and users. The strategy relies heavily on use of undercover agents, informants and often-controversial sting operations.
In the Bay Area, Mobley was one of the first targets.

Long history -
In many ways, Mobley's rap sheet made him a model target for Frontline. His criminal history dated to 2005, when he was 15 and gave a loaded gun to a cousin who was later caught with it at school. He was convicted twice as a juvenile for car theft, shot and killed a marijuana dealer in what was ruled self-defense, and was arrested twice for gun possession but never convicted.
Richmond officers who met with ATF agents said he was a member of a local gang, and they helped federal authorities pull together a "target packet" on him, Riehl said.
Palmer's undercover team made inroads by cold-calling one of Mobley's former high school classmates in search of a gun to purchase. The informant said Mobley had bragged that he'd just returned from Reno and had a box of new weapons for sale.
Weeks later, Mobley and his friends contacted an undercover agent and proposed the grenade-launcher deal. Mobley's attorneys said he never actually had a launcher or grenades - he simply texted a photo to Palmer.
In May, Mobley and one of his accomplices pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rob and assault a federal officer and were sentenced to 9 1/2 and nine years, respectively. A third defendant, who was convicted in August of robbery and assault of a federal officer, was sentenced to 12 years.
"Mobley was in our sights as an active shooter," Palmer said, "regardless of his lack of convictions. In the past, maybe an agent would have taken a look at him if he came across the radar, but he would have been low priority without a felony conviction. Now, he's a priority."
In some instances, the federal bureau's tactics have led to charges it is concocting criminal enterprises to entrap people.
In May 2012, the agency focused on Jarvis Toussaint, whom Oakland police had branded among the city's shot-callers. According to court records, undercover ATF agents offered Toussaint a deal: If they told him the location of a drug stash house loaded with 5 kilograms of cocaine, and he robbed it, they would split the proceeds.
Over the course of several days, according to transcripts of recordings, Toussaint boasted of committing a previous shooting and his involvement in similar robberies.

'Risk of entrapment' -
On the morning of the planned heist, the agents rounded up Toussaint and two other armed men and drove toward an East Oakland house that Toussaint had been led to believe was a distribution center for a Mexican cartel.
Instead of knocking over a drug den, the agents drove into a storage center's parking lot on Hegenberger Road and arrested the three. All pleaded guilty to gun and drug charges and were sent to prison.
Such ruses, however, have raised concern from federal judges and local attorneys.
Last year, a federal appeals judge in Illinois wrote in a dissent to an opinion upholding the convictions of three defendants that the stings were a "disreputable tactic" that create "an increased risk of entrapment."
In August, another judge in U.S. District Court in Chicago reviewing a case with five defendants found there was a "strong showing of potential bias" that the stings targeted racial minorities.

Chance to back out -
Paul DeMeester, an attorney for one of the men convicted in the Oakland setup, said his client had a history of drug convictions but nothing involving guns.
"In their zeal to get guns off the street, they're manufacturing crimes for people who wouldn't commit them without their inducement and encouragement," DeMeester said.
Facing a 20 year-sentence, DeMeester said, his client pleaded guilty to accept a term of six years.
"The ATF is planting the seeds and saying, 'Would you do this?' " DeMeester said. "It's just wrong."
Helen Dunkel, an ATF spokeswoman, stressed that agents always give the suspects an opportunity to back out and said the practice fulfilled the mission of the agency.
"If we know these are the people who would commit the most violent crimes with guns, why wouldn't we take them out?" she said. "Someone willing to commit an armed home invasion, and possibly kill people to steal drugs and cash, is someone who is willing to commit serious violence in the streets."