Caught In The Gun Maze

CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzales continues his investigation into what happens when old service weapons end up in the wrong hands.
Last November, a 47-year-old father of two was walking home from work on this Chicago Street when he was shot three times.

Minutes later police arrested Louis Morales, reportedly a member of the Latin Kings, a violent street gang. He was carrying a Smith & Wesson .38 caliber revolver.

The gun was last owned by the Miami-Dade Police Department. In fact, a CBS News investigation has found it was one of four former Miami-Dade police weapons connected to crimes in Chicago in the past year.

Alleged gang member Chris Frazier was caught with one of the police guns after shots were fired near a playground. Another gun was taken from alleged Latin Kings member Aquileo Miguel during a search. And on New Year's Eve police arrested a minor who was firing one of the police guns into the air.

Four used Miami-Dade Police revolvers, four crimes, one Chicago neighborhood.

At an anti-crime march in the same neighborhood, an angry Chicago Mayor Richard Daley said it could have been worse. "We have them selling weapons back in Miami; the weapon ends up in Chicago, and it kills some young person," said Daley.

Daley wants more cities to follow Chicago's lead.

"We destroy all the weapons. We do not sell them back. We do not give them back to police; we don't give them back to politicians; we destroy all weapons," according to Daley.

Many police departments sell their used weapons, which then end up on the streets. The Miami-Dade police department is different. It has a strict policy requiring its old police weapons be sold only to law enforcement.

But, as CBS News previously reported, it's impossible to keep the weapons in the hands of law enforcement personnel once they've left the control of the Miami-Dade Police Department.

A CBS News undercover crew had no trouble buying two restricted Miami-Dade revolvers at a gun store in California.

And the guns used by gang members in Chicago were stolen from a weapons shipment passing through the city's air cargo terminal.

"Having a police weapon used by a criminal - it's just like having a police car driving away from a bank robbery," says Jerry Nunziato, who oversaw the tracing of nearly 700,000 guns when he ran the National Tracing Center for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

He says trying to restrict used gun sales to law enforcement has never worked. "It sounds great but...it was just too difficult to put in a policy like that and have it enforced," he says. For years, Nunziato says, he watched with concern as the number of old police weapons connected to crimes started to climb.

CBS News obtained a copy of the ATF's firearms trace database through the Freedom of Information Act. CBS News found, since 1990, more than 3,000 police gunhave been connected to crimes, including 293 homicides, 301 assaults and 279 drug-related crimes.

For example, an undercover ATF agent in Colorado Springs bought a police gun from a convicted drug dealer. And the weapon was traced band to the San Diego Sheriff's Department, which had sold it to a gun dealer.

And two ATF sources tell CBS News that old police weapons were in David Koresh's arsenal at Waco. Some of those guns came from the same dealer who last year bought Miami-Dade's weapons and promised to sell them to "law enforcement only."

As a result of the CBS News investigation, the mayor says the department will, in the future, destroy its old guns and will now attempt to buy back those guns that wound up with dealers and the public.

In Chicago, that man shot with a Miami-Dade police revolver wouldn't talk on camera. He's afraid of the gangs and their guns. He has lost his job, along with some use of his right hand, and is in intense pain.

He told CBS News his medical bills so far are nearly $30,000. Miami-Dade sold the gun that shot him for $75.


Read our previous coverage in "Used Guns Get In Wrong Hands"

©1999, CBS Worldwide Inc., All Rights Reserved

Popular

Comments

Follow Us

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Watch Now

On Twitter

New Android App

For your Android phone and tablet, download the FREE redesigned app, featuring CBSN, live 24/7 news.

Download