“We've deployed to some pretty high-profile things, over the last year, particularly,” says Jeff Rhodes, a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Rhodes is a member of ATF’s Special Response Team, assigned to team two. He and a number of other special agent were among the first to respond to the Navy Yard Shooting, and helped take down Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. One of the most iconic images of incident in Boston shows an ATF medic crouched over a weak and injured Tsarnaev.
At a secret location in Northern Virginia, the 'Team Two' members gave us an inside look at their facility and their equipment, including an armored vehicle, battering rams and specialized guns.
“Based on our responses to the Boston Marathon Bombing and to the Navy Yard,” says Time Jones, a member of the team. “We can show up with all of this equipment and know that based on the training that we've received and the equipment that we have that there are very few situations that we can't handle as it arises in front of us.”
While those tragedies got the attention of the nation, team commander Gerry Arena says the team’s daily grind consists of major takedowns you may never see.
“You know your heart his pounding, you are moving up to the door to make an entry knowing that the folks on the other side of that door are the most violent criminals that ATF deals with,” Arena says.
This week, we caught up with the team as they were packing for this mission.
Exclusive video obtained by NewsChannel 8 shows part of a massive raid in Maryland where numerous search and arrest warrants were served. Of the five SRT teams in the country, team two is the busiest. They regularly conduct raids along the East Coast, eliminating a threat you likely didn’t know was there.
“We have locked up a significant number of very, very bad people,” Arena says.
Usually, team two conducts 40 operations per year. But, since October 1st, the team has executed six take downs –nearly one per week. They are on pace to exceed the yearly average number of missions in recent years.