No One Knows If Firearms, Chemical Agents Missing From Federal Prison Armories


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Firearms, ammunition and dangerous chemical agents could be missing from federal prison armories without government officials having a clue they are gone.

“Security officers can move inventory in and out of armories … without leaving any record that a change in inventory occurred,”said a Department of Justice Inspector General report made public Thursday.

That’s because the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) inventory system is “neither complete nor accurate” and lacks data for “tracking product movement,” which increases “the risk that armory munitions and equipment could be lost or stolen,” the report said.

BOP operates 120 armories that stock firearms, ammunition, and chemical agents like tear gas and other incapacitating products used in crowd control. Islamic terrorist groups have devoted substantial resources in recent decades to recruiting in U.S. prisons, according to the FBI.

The IG reported missing ammunition in one armory but redacted multiple examples of equipment that was removed or added without a system update. Inventory tracking inadequacies make it all but impossible to know if equipment is missing.

The IG investigation was prompted in 2011 after a BOP employee pleaded guilty to stealing munitions from a federal prison facility, but changes made since 2011 by BOP have not remedied the problem.

BOP also doesn’t require the authorizing official to sign off on equipment removal, and security officers often don’t complete required paperwork when removing equipment for their own use.

Three of the seven federal prisons reviewed also stockpiled “unauthorized chemical agents and ammunition,” but the IG redacted details about those stockpiles.

BOP said it is “exploring options” to fix the problems, according to the IG.

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