In February, after agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives discovered that a pistol slide recovered by the police in Philadelphia was from a decommissioned service weapon that should have been destroyed at an ATF firearms destruction facility, they arrested a West Virginia man who had worked there as a contracted security guard since 2013. Now that man, Christopher Lee Yates, has pleaded guilty to stealing thousands of guns and firearms parts right under the ATF’s nose in the agency’s most significant failure to secure weapons under its control since the Fast and Furious scandal in 2001, The Trace reports.
Yates’ previously undiscovered plea deal says Yates stole the weapons and parts from the Martinsburg, W.Va., National Firearms and Ammunition Destruction Branch before his coworkers arrived for work. Yates’s haul included handguns, semiautomatic rifles, unregistered machine guns, ammunition magazines, bullets, and scopes. He also stole at least 3,000 pistol slides from former ATF service weapons that were slated for destruction. The agency has recovered at least 4,000 stolen parts and guns so far but declined to publicly release the full accounting of the theft it says it has provided to senators. Yates faces up to 10 years for each of two counts at his scheduled sentencing in August.