In one of the cleverest undercover operations, ATF agents posing as employees in an Ohio-based sneaker store arrested more than 60 people who came to the store looking to trade guns, drugs and ammunition for a fresh new pair of J’s.
Tredz, a sneaker shop in Mansfield, Ohio that opened about a year ago, quickly became one of the hottest spots in Richland County for the newest Nike sneakers. Especially when word got around that if you couldn’t front the cash for the kicks, the owners were willing to accept illegal guns and drugs in exchange for payment. Or, if you didn’t want any sneakers at all, they would offer you a dollar amount for your stash.
Plenty of shady customers saw this as the perfect opportunity to build up their sneaker collections without spending a dime. Little did they know though, Tredz was a storefront sting run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The whole operation came to light last week when federal prosecutor’s unsealed indictments against more than 60 people for 121 separate criminal counts. During the year-long buyback program, ATF agents recovered hundreds of rounds of ammunition, almost 100 different firearms of various calibers, over 1,000 grams of cocaine, exactly 768 grams of crack and another 5 grams of heroin, and a medicine cabinet full of prescription pills including Oxycodone, Vicodin and Alprazolam.
In one case, an unnamed customer swapped a dozen or so guns with undercover agents over six-months for more than $5,000 in cash and four pairs of shoes. Another man who sold guns and drugs to ATF agents had already been banned from owning a pistol after an involuntary manslaughter conviction dating back to 1999.