MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis is transportation hub central.
If it`s getting anywhere in the country, there is a good chance it`s coming through the Bluff City and that includes guns.
The problems come when those guns never get where they are going and are stolen.
WREG requested records from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms on where the gun heists take place.
What we got may surprise you.
“Just like any business, there is employee theft,” said Marcos Bess, with the Memphis ATF Field Office.
It’s happening at places you might not expect: cargo shipping companies.
“They are stealing them for profit, stealing them to sell them,” said Bess.
WREG discovered a pattern of problems at Con-Way Freight’s division off Shelby Drive and Holmes.
In March 2013, a stolen Remington .308 caliber rifle traced back to a man who worked at Conway’s Humboldt Plant.
More than a year later a mis-delivered pallet of Colt 45 handguns shipped through Con-Way finally reached their correct destination.
Many of the guns were missing, but ATF won’t say how many.
We do know one ended up at a Corinth pawn shop.
In August 2014, at the Con-Way in South Memphis pallets with assorted firearms were broken into while nearly 100 employees worked on the loading dock.
The company said it had no suspects but beefed up security.
WREG found case after case across the country where Con-Wway packages were compromised.
“If you work there, you have an idea of what is in the packages sometime. You know where it’s coming from and where it is going,” said Bess.
It’s not just Con-Way who refused to even talk with us on the phone about the problem.
It also happens at FedEx.
“They never were received. Picked up here and vanished into thin air,” saidDana Coleman, whose family runs Grenada Gold N Gun in Grenada, Mississippi.
They sell weapons to law enforcement and licensed gun dealers and typically ship through FedEx.
In 2013, one shipment never reached its destination.
“Out of the 3 cases in the gun box, one he opened it up and the pistol was not in the box,” said Coleman.
Coleman said the FedEx worker who picked up the shipment of Glock pistols was not her usual carrier, but she has a receipt of the pick-up.
FedEx declined to talk with us too.
Coleman said the company told her there are no records of the shipment and refuses to pay.
Grenada Police said there wasn’t much they could do.
“So we just give up and don’t do anything? I really think the freight liners should be held more accountable,” said Coleman.
Accountability may be the issue.
Even the ATF admits, it’s up to companies to put their own safe guards in place to protect cargo.
Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms gets involved after the fact, when stolen guns are reported missing or they are traced back to a crime.
We asked ATF if there is any oversight to see whether cargo companies are making any changes, doing anything differently and who governs them.
“We don’t,” replied Bess.
“That’s the biggest concern to me, where these guns are gonna end up at,” said Coleman.
Many times the stolen guns are ending up on the streets and a part of a crime.
So as police fight to get guns off streets, many are being stolen just as they hit the ground.