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Sourcing puts readers inside stolen military weapons plot

(AP Illustration/Peter Hamlin)

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AP global investigations reporters James LaPorta and Jason Dearen used the last major installment of the “AWOL Weapons” investigative series to take readers inside an attempted sale of stolen Army ordnance.

LaPorta’s textbook source development yielded access to private text messages and Facebook groups, as well as exclusive interviews with both the government informant and one of the men he helped bust, providing intimate details of the intended weapons sale to narcotraffickers that ended instead with a SWAT team raid at an El Paso, Texas, truck stop.

The story, written by Dearen and edited by Jerry Schwartz and Peter Pritchard, was produced by the digital storytelling team of Raghu Vadarevu, Natalie Castañeda and Peter Hamlin with the distinctive visual presentation of previous installments. A well-conceived social media plan by audience engagement journalist Elise Ryan helped drive remarkably strong readership: The piece led AP’s platforms for pageviews (more than 100,000) and reader engagement for the day.

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