BATF  Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms

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02/21/2002    Family sues over raid
02/20/2002    Gun Sales Tied Up Nationwide

Rocky Mountain News


Family sues over raid

Authorities arrested sons without reason, Pueblo parents say

By Karen Abbott and Dick Foster, News Staff Writers

A Pueblo family has accused law enforcement officers of bursting into their home with guns, wearing black masks and all-black clothes, kicking the family dog and arresting their two college-age sons without reason or explanation.  The sons, 19 and 22, spent two days in jail and were released without being charged, according to the family's lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Denver U.S. District Court.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado filed the suit on behalf of Dan and Rosa Unis and their sons against the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

Steve Karkos of the Denver DEA office said he knew nothing of the lawsuit and could not comment on pending litigation.  A CBI official did not return a telephone call seeking comment.

The raid on the Unis home occurred Aug. 19, 2000, according to the lawsuit.  The lawsuit alleges that "black-masked, black-helmeted men brandishing automatic weapons and wearing all-black uniforms with no insignias suddenly burst into the house unannounced, kicked the family's dog across the floor, ordered the entire family to 'get on the (expletive) floor,' held them at gunpoint, searched the house, found no drugs or contraband, but nevertheless carted off the family's two sons, Dave and Marcos, and imprisoned them illegally and without charges."

Unis, in an interview from Pueblo said, "The next thing we knew there were five or six police with masks and automatic weapons and stuff yelling at us. It wasn't the nicest language in the world. I see my dog go flying across the room because one of them kicked it."   Unis is a social worker for Pueblo County. His wife, Rosa, a public school teacher who suffers a heart condition, became sick during the ordeal.

"I asked them for a warrant and they couldn't produce one," Unis said. "They basically didn't say anything."

In a statement, ACLU legal director Mark Silverstein said, "Once again the war on drugs misses the target and instead scores a direct hit on the Constitution.  "These government agents had no search warrant, no arrest warrant, and no lawful authority whatsoever.  "They carried out this armed home invasion in flagrant disregard of the Fourth Amendment, which forbids unreasonable searches and arrests without probable cause," Silverstein said.

The ACLU alleges that the raid was carried out by the Southern Colorado Drug Task Force, composed of officers from several law enforcement agencies, including the CBI and the DEA.  Unis said he was upset by the way his sons were treated. "They threatened them with jail unless they told what they knew.  My sons said that they didn't know anything because they didn't know what it was all about.  "I think it was a bunch of cowboys out having a good time," said Unis. "It was totally unnecessary."

Contact Karen Abbott at (303) 892-5188 or

February 21, 2002

Copyright 2002, Rocky Mountain News. All Rights Reserved.

News Daily Com

Gun Sales Tied Up Nationwide

By Associated Press

February 20, 2002, 12:33 PM EST

DENVER -- A minor change in a form for federal background checks blocked gun sales across the country this week because the new paperwork didn't reach dealers on time.

"We didn't know about it until (Tuesday) morning when sales clerks called the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and they said they wouldn't process any more background checks unless they were on the new forms," said Dave Anver, president of Dave's Guns, the largest gun dealer in Colorado.

"No one in the entire state could make any sales without the new form," Anver said.

Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms spokesman Dave McCombs confirmed Wednesday that the forms were never mailed.

The company hired to print the forms couldn't complete the order, McCombs said. Because of that, ATF offices have been inundated with requests to have the forms faxed, he said.

"I've got everyone I have working for me and we've still got 100 or so dealers waiting for the new form," McCombs said. He faxed more than 200 forms on Tuesday.

Federally licensed dealers are required to get criminal background checks on gun buyers before approving sales.

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation, which conducts the checks for dealers in Colorado, was bombarded with calls Tuesday, said CBI agent Mike Igoe.

Igoe said the ATF notified him of the change last week, but when he contacted some of the state's largest dealers, none had received even the notification letter.

"They truly have something to be angry about," he said. "They had to stop and get the proper form to conduct any business."

Most dealers expected to have at least a faxed version of the form on Wednesday, but McCombs said he wasn't sure when the problem would be resolved.

Anver said the new forms have boxes where applicants must check their ethnicity, rather than writing it in as they did before, and they require a specific location if the sale is made at a gun show.

The ATF announced the change in October in a letter to all federally licensed firearms dealers.

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Copyright 2002, The Associated Press