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Tag: ATF

Joe Riehl Takes Over ATF’s San Francisco Division

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
Joseph M. Riehl is taking over ATF’s San Francisco Division, which includes Northern California and Nevada.

“We will renew partnerships and forge new working relationships with law enforcement at all levels of government as well as with community leaders and key stakeholders in California and Nevada,” Riehl said in a statement.

Riehl joined ATF in 1987 and was assigned to the Miami Field.

In 1994, he went to ATF headquarters as both a project officer in the Firearms Enforcement Division, and an explosives training manager in the Office of Training and Professional Development.

In 1997, it was off to Providence, R.I. where he was promoted to resident agent. In 2004, he became assistant agent in charge of the the Baltimore Field Division.

He also had served as ATF’s incident commanders on the high-profile D.C. and the and the Maryland and Washington D.C. serial arsonist investigations.

In 2005, Riehl served as the Chief, of the Arson and Explosives Programs Division at the ATF Headquarters.

In 2011, Riehl became deputy director of the Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center at Quantico.

 

Out-of-State Guns Used in Most NY Crimes

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

New York’s restrictive gun laws have triggered a rash of gun sales from other states, a federal report shows, Newsday reports.

Because the state prohibits machine guns and possessing handguns without a license, weapons are brought into New York from elsewhere, according to a report by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms.

“We call New York a market state because it’s so highly regulated that it’s easier to get a gun in another state and bring it back,” said ATF group supervisor Robert Cucinelli, according to Newsday.

Importing guns from other states is so common that most guns recovered from New York crimes last year originated from states with fewer legal restrictions, Newsday reported.

 

GOP Report Blames Five ATF Officials for “Fast and Furious” Mess


William Newell

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Republican investigators blamed the failures of “Operation Fast and Furious” on five high-ranking officials at ATF in a scathing congressional report issued Monday, the Los Angeles Times reports.

“From the outset, the case was marred by missteps, poor judgments, and an inherently reckless strategy,” the report states.

The 211-page report calls on the Obama administration and Senate to improve leadership at the ATF, which has been without a permanent director for six years.

Among the five held responsible is William Newell, the former special agent-in-charge in Phoenix, who the report says exhibited “repeatedly risky management,” the LA Times reported.

The five ATF managers identified in the report have been moved to other positions, according to the LA Times.

Here’s some excerpts of the report:

“From the outset, the case was marred by missteps, poor judgments, and an inherently reckless strategy. In the summer of 2009, the Deputy Attorney General at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. promulgated a ‘Strategy for Combating the Mexican Cartels.’ The new aim was to zero in on the firearms trafficking networks. Agents were advised that ‘merely seizing firearms’ purchased illegally by straw buyers should take a back seat to gathering information in hopes of dismantling entire firearms trafficking networks. To effectuate the new plan, ATF agents in Phoenix convinced local gun dealers to cooperate by supplying ATF with real-time information on the straw purchases, even though ATF knew the buyers were illegally obtaining firearms destined for the Mexican drug cartels. The gun dealers were reassured that ATF was closely monitoring the transactions, and interdicting the weapons. That was false.”

**

“Shortly after the case began, in December 2009, DEA supplied ATF with extensive information on what would become ATF’s prime target. At that point, ATF should have shut Fast and Furious down, but it failed to recognize the significance of the information the DEA had shared. Instead, ATF continued with its plan to identify all the players in the trafficking network rather than disrupt or deter them through confrontation and arrest. So, hundreds of guns flowed to criminals while two of the trafficking network’s customers, who were its connection to the Mexican drug cartels, were already known to U.S. law enforcement. Both the FBI and DEA had key information on the network’s connection drug cartels in Mexico by the time ATF’s wiretaps were approved.”

 

***

“Though Attorney General Holder testified that the case was ‘fundamentally flawed’ and President Obama has stated that mistakes may have been made, all responsible ATF officials still work either at the ATF or within the Department of Justice. The two men most closely identified with the failed strategy of the case and who bear the brunt of responsibility for supervising the operation on a day-to-day basis, William Newell and David Voth, have both kept their jobs at ATF.”

 

***

“This report is not intended to imply in any way that the mistakes and responsibility for Operation Fast and Furious are limited to ATF and other federal officials who were based in Arizona. While mistakes by figures in Arizona were immense, the joint Congressional investigation into Operation Fast and Furious will issue a second report detailing the mistakes and culpability of Department of Justice officials based in Washington, D.C.”

***

“Operation Fast and Furious was the largest firearms trafficking case involving the U.S.-Mexico border in the history of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. The case began in the fall of 2009 in ATF’s Phoenix Field Division under the leadership of Special Agent in Charge William Newell, an agent with a history of sanctioning the dangerous investigative technique known as gunwalking. Newell had been reprimanded before by ATF management for pushing the envelope with discredited tactics. But Newell had an audacious goal. He intended to dismantle the U.S.-based gun trafficking network that supplied the formidable Mexican Sinaloa Cartel. When the Obama administration resurrected an earlier case in which his division used reckless gunwalking tactics, Newell saw his opportunity.”

***

Click here for a copy of the report, Fast and Furious: The Anatomy of a Failed Operation, Part I of III” and the 2,148 page appendices.

New Leader Takes Over ATF Houston Field Division

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

 Melvin D. King Jr.’s long law-enforcement career is taking him to Houston, where he will be the new special agent in charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Field Division, according to ATF.

King began his career with the federal agency in 1988, when he was assigned to the Washington Field Division in Richmond. He helped found “Project Exile,” a strategy to reduce firearms in cities.

Since then, King has worked in New Jersey, South Carolina and North Carolina, according to the agency.

“I am happy to be here in South Texas and under my leadership we will continue the ATF mission to reduce violent crime and stop firearms trafficking to criminals both domestically and internationally,” King said a press release. “I plan to continue to work closely with other law enforcement agencies and prosecutors. Another one of my priorities will be to partner with the firearms and explosives dealers in South Texas as we conduct our mission to regulate the industry.”

Fallen ATF Agent John Capano Honored with Street Naming

courtesy of http://wantagh.patch.com

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An ATF agent who was killed trying to prevent a pharmacy robbery in his hometown in New York had a portion of a street named after him over the weekend, Newsday reports.

Senior Special Agent John F. Capano Avenue is the new name of Waverly Avenue at Seamans Neck Road where Capano grew up in his childhood home.

Capano, 51, was trying to prevent a robbery at a pharmacy when he and the suspect began grappling over the phone. A retired Nassau police lieutenant fatally shot Capano, thinking he was the robber.

Last week the Nassau County district attorney’s office said it would not file criminal charges against the retired lieutenant because he was trying to defend himself when Capano fired.

IG Report on Fast and Furious Rumored to Be Coming Out in August

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

I don’t often like to deal too much in conjecture, rumor or speculation, but in this case I will.

First off, the rumor circulating in Washington is that the Inspector General’s report on ATF’s failed Operation Fast and Furious will likely come out in August.

Who will get whacked?

Well, first off, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Phoenix will, including then-U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke and some of his underlings.

So will William Newell, the head of ATF in Phoenix at the time, who helped lead the bone-headed operation that encouraged gun dealers to sell to straw purchasers, all with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels.  How Newell remains as an ATF employee is puzzling question.

Former ATF head Ken Melson and some of his underlings are likely to get a good spanking.

I’m speculating that the I.G. won’t place any blame at the feet of Attorney General Eric Holder or President Obama.

But Lanny Breuer, who heads up the Justice Department’s criminal division, could be the subject of some criticism.

In any event, I can’t wait for the report to come out. Ditto, I’m sure, for folks like Rep. Darrell Issa and Sen. Chuck Grassley, some of ATF’s chief critics on the Hill.

 

ATF Whistleblower Says New Leadership Unfairly Accused of Trying to Stifle or Intimidate Whistleblowers

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

ATF whistleblower Peter Forcelli told ticklethewire.com on Thursday that the current leadership at ATF is being unfairly attacked and wrongly accused of trying to silence whistleblowers like himself.

“It’s not fair, these guys are trying to do the right thing,” he says about the new leadership at ATF.

The comments by Forcelli, who has testified before Congress as a whistleblower about Operation Fast and Furious, comes a day after Sen. Chuck Grassley and Rep. Darrell Issa questioned a video message ATF Director B. Todd Jones delivered to ATF agents. The two lawmakers said they feared the statement may have been meant to put a chill on whistleblowers.

Jones statement said:

“… if you make poor choices, that if you don’t abide by the rules, that if you don’t respect the chain of command, if you don’t find the appropriate way to raise your concerns to your leadership, there will be consequences. …”

Forcelli, who was in the Phoenix Office as a group supervisor and who is now at headquarters as program manager for criminal groups and gangs, says: “The chain of command has been broken for a long time. They ‘re trying to get people to follow chain of command . I don’t think their intention is to disuade people from blowing the whistle.”

Forcelli says disgruntled ATF agents may be fueling Capitol Hill with allegations that the current regime is trying to put a chill on whistle blowing, but that’s not true, he said. For one, he said, he’s a whistleblower and he’s been treated very fairly.

“Whistle blower cases were mishandled. That was in prior administrations. These guys are paying for their sins,” he says of Jones and second in command, Tom Brandon.

He says that Brandon was nothing but supportive when he was blowing the whistle on Fast and Furious.

He said Brandon told him: “This is a big deal, if you need to go, you need to tell the truth. Don’t minimize. Don’t embellish. Run to the truth. He said they’re going to throw fast balls. Hit them out of the park.”

“Where ATF has screwed up, I’m not going to apologize,” Forcelli said. But he repeated that the attack on the new leadership is unfair.

Forcelli says that as a whistleblower, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Phoenix retaliated against him and blackballed him. He said people in that office were directed to report any contact with him, even at a coffee shop over the weekend.

He went on to say that “I totally support Sen. Grassley and Rep. Issa’s inquiry into what happened with Fast and Furious. I appreciate what they did for me when I was retaliated against” by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

“But I feel that some people have cried wolf with respect to this video” with the message from Director Jones by suggesting it’s putting a chill on whistle blowing.

Grassley and Issa Concerned ATF Director’s Comments Could Put a Chill on Whistleblowing

Todd Jones

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Sen. Chuck Grassley and Rep. Darrell Issa, two of Capitol Hill’s chief critics of ATF, expressed concern about comments the agency’s acting Director B. Todd Jones made to employees earlier this month.

Specifically, the two were concerned about a comment that could put a chill on whistleblowers.

Todd said: “… if you make poor choices, that if you don’t abide by the rules, that if you don’t respect the chain of command, if you don’t find the appropriate way to raise your concerns to your leadership, there will be consequences. …”

A press release from Grassley and Issa stated:

Grassley and Issa wrote to Jones, stating that the essence of whistleblowing is reporting problems outside of an employee’s chain of command, and whistleblowers were instrumental in exposing the shortcomings of the government’s botched gun-walking operation, Fast and Furious. Grassley and Issa wrote to Jones, “Your ominous message – which could be interpreted as a threat – is likely to have a major chilling effect on ATF employees exercising their rights to contact Congress. Therefore, it needs to be clarified.”

Grassley and Issa also wrote, “On numerous occasions, we have stressed to ATF and the Department of Justice the importance of protecting whistleblower disclosures and preventing retaliation against whistleblowers.”