In an announcement of a no bid contract posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website, the federal agency signals its intention to purchase nearly 240,000 pepper spray projectiles, 100 pepper spray launchers, as well as 36 “riot expansion kits”.
The PepperBall TAC-700 pepper spray launcher “features full auto, semi-auto, or 3 round burst providing up to 700 rounds per minute,”according to the company which will provide the DHS with the weapons. It is also “accurate to 60 feet with area saturation up to 150 feet.” The weapon is routinely used in riot control situations around the world.
According to a video demonstration, the TAC-700 has a “strong psychological influence” on the people it is being used against because it is so loud and sounds like an automatic machine gun.
Although the weapons are being purchased by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the document makes it clear that they will be used to train Federal Protective Service (FPS) agents.
The total cost of the contract amounts to $498,970 dollars and mandates that delivery of the weapons will be made within 60 days of the award.
Although the contract states that the pepper spray projectiles will be used for “training purposes,” 117,000 of them are inert compared to 120,000 “Live X Projectiles,” which are the most powerful projectiles available on PepperBall’s website, and are designed to be used during riot control situations.
The “riot expansion kits” being purchased by the DHS are holsters that accompany the PepperBall products and can be used to store projectiles. According to one website, they represent, “the perfect non-lethal crowd management tool for gaining compliance over rioters, organized protesters, and unlawful assemblies,” and can be used to, “Gain psychological advantage over unruly crowds.”
The purchase of these items sends another clear signal that the DHS is preparing for some form of civil disorder.
In June it emerged that the DHS was purchasing top of the range body armor and helmets for FPS guards as part of preparations for “riot control situations.” This followed a controversial drill last year dubbed “Operation Shield,” during which FPS agents armed with semiautomatic guns were posted outside a Social Security office in Florida. The unannounced exercise centered around “detecting the presence of unauthorized persons and potentially disruptive or dangerous activities.” Residents were forced to show identification papers to the guards during the drill.
Back in May, FPS guards were stationed outside an IRS building in St. Louis during a Tea Party demonstration, and the DHS has also used its sub-branch to spy on protesters.
As we reported last week, Homeland Security is spending $80 million dollars on hiring armed guards in New York to be used during “public demonstration(s),” as well as “civil disturbances, or other unanticipated events on an as-needed basis.”