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Tag: ATF

New Head of Detroit ATF Talks About Dealing With Violent Crime

ATF Supervisors Blame Prosecutors in Fast and Furious

William Newell

By Shoshanna Utchenik

The blame game continues in Operation Fast and Furious.

The latest: Two ATF managers — Bill Newell and David Voth — claim fed prosecutors blocked efforts to arrest gun runners or seize weapons before they crossed the border in Mexico, according to the Arizona Daily Star.

The controversial program has caused a stir in Washington.

ATF encouraged gun dealers in Arizona to sell to straw purchasers, all with the hopes of tracing the guns to the Mexican cartels.

ATF lost track of many of the weapons, some of which surfaced at crime scenes.

To read the full story click here.


ATF Agent Indicted for Witness Tampering

By Allan Lengel

Bad news for ATF agent Michael Justin Fanelly.

A fed grand jury in Raleigh, N.C. has indicted him on charges of witness tampering and making a false statement to a law enforcement officers, the News Observer reported.

The paper reported that the grand jury charged that he interfered with two officers who were investigating reports of cocaine distribution last June and that he made a false statement about a woman who was arrested.

To read full story click here.


Survey: ATF Rank and File Critical of Management

By Allan Lengel

Ever since news surfaced of ATF’s highly-flawed Operation Fast and Furious, the agency has not only taken a hit in the public relations arena, but also in the area of morale.

Fox News reports that an internal survey shows that the men and women of the agency gave harsh marks to management.

“A key area in which ATF fell short was leadership,” an e-mail from ATF Headquarters, describing the results of the internal survey, reads, according to Fox.

The most troubling, according to Fox, was the question: “My senior leaders maintain high standards of honesty and integrity.”

Fox reported that 44 percent of ATF employees said that their leaders maintained such standards last year.

The survey was given by Partnership for Public Service, which administers surveys for government employees.

To read more click here.



ATF Targets in Sting Were FBI Informants


atf file photo

By Richard Serrano
Tribune Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON – When the ATF made alleged gun trafficker Manuel Fabian Celis-Acosta its primary target in the ill-fated Fast and Furious investigation, it hoped he would lead the agency to two associates who were Mexican drug cartel members. The ATF even questioned and released him knowing that he was wanted by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

But those two drug lords were secretly serving as informants for the FBI along the Southwest border, newly obtained internal emails show. Had Celis-Acosta simply been held when he was arrested by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in May 2010, the investigation that led to the loss of hundreds of illegal guns and may have contributed to the death of a Border Patrol agent could have been closed early.

Documents obtained by the Tribune Washington Bureau show that as far back as December 2009 – five months before Celis-Acosta was detained and released at the border in a car carrying 74 live rounds of ammunition – ATF and DEA agents learned by chance that they were separately investigating the same man.

To read the full story click here.

ATF’s #2 Says Agency Mistakenly Used Drug Strategy in Operation Fast and Furious

Tom Brandon/atf photo

By Allan Lengel

The number two person at ATF says a key mistake in the controversial Operation Fast and Furious was that “a narcotics based strategy was applied to a firearms trafficking investigation.”

Tom Brandon, who stepped in last October as ATF’s deputy director as part of an effort to clean house after the failed Operation Fast and Furious came to the public’s attention, explained that while drug agents sometimes let drugs and money walk to further an investigation, it’s not good to do the same for gun probes.

“When you use that in firearms, that’s not good,” he said during an interview  on the radio show “The Badge” with Howard Safir.

He said people in management at the Phoenix ATF office had good intentions when they launched the operation, but “their decisions were bad.”

Fast and Furious encouraged Arizona gun dealers to sell to straw purchasers, all with the hopes of tracing the guns to the Mexican cartels. ATF lost track of many of the guns, some of which surfaced at crime scenes on both sides of the border including one involving the murder in Arizona of U.S. Border agent Brian Terry.

“We made mistakes and we’re owning up to them,” he said of the operation.

Reader Responses

I am Mike Grimes, DEA retired, and a frequent reader of Tickle the Wire.

Tom Brandon at ATF is very misinformed about DEA’s policy on allowing drugs to “walk.” He makes it sound as though it is an every day occurrence. This is not the case. Yes, DEA will occasionally allow (the taxpayers’) money to walk. Money, as it exists, is not dangerous.

Yes, DEA will occasionally allow a very small drug sample to walk for testing purposes, not for use or distribution. DEA allowing a drug sample to walk is a rare occurrence because of the liability potential.

Mr. Brandon needs to find another avenue to deflect ATF’s foolish operational standard.


Comment from BobbyT7 | [e]

Time March 6, 2012 at 5:37 pm

Mike Grimes tells it like it is. I was assigned to a DEA group for several years and participated in dozens of undercover buys. I doubt the group let even a total of an ounce walk in those years.

I retired from the former USINS and was a border patrol agent for ten years, prior to my USINS special agent experience.

The part I don’t understand is how Fast & Furious got through the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) process??? This is a major DOJ program in the criminal division. It requires review and approval by all of the member agencies of OCDETF, which includes ATF, DEA, FBI, ICE, IRS/CID and the U.S. Marshall Service. How could anyone sign off on such an operational proposal, much less experienced agents of all of these federal agencies, plus numerous federal prosecutors that review ALL proposals.

Did the operational plan come from the top (very high political level) down, so it didn’t matter what was written in the proposal??? Was there ever a proposal written???

ICE had an agent assigned directly to the ATF group that conducted Fast & Furious, what was he reporting through his chain of command???

Who decided to NOT tell the Mexicans??? Not some civil servant, I can certainly assure you.

Who decided not to tell the U.S. Department of State, our embassy etc…???

ATF Finds Homemade Napalm During Meth Raid

Operation Smoke Screen Nets Over 100 Charges

By Danny Fenster

More than 100 people were busted for a host of gun, drug and burglary charges in an operation run by ATF and local Macon, Ga.  authorities known as “Operation Smoke Screen”, reports reports WJBF.

The federal indictments charged  24 individuals with firearms offenses and another 85 defendants with with burglary, theft, firearm and drug charges.   The indictment capped a seven month operation.

The operation, which began in August of 2011 , resulted in the seizure of about $500,000 in property and the identification of individuals related to 104 burglaries, 12 car break-ins and 16 thefts.

“Operation Smoke Screen is a great example of the successes that can be accomplished through the collaborative efforts of federal and local law enforcement agencies working together to protect the public.  This operation serves as notice to the criminal element that if you traffic in stolen guns and other stolen items, law enforcement is watching and you will be prosecuted,” said US Attorney Edward J. Tarver.

To read more click here.