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Tag: ATF

Customs and Border Protection Gets New Leader

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

A new leader has been named to the nation’s largest uniformed federal law enforcement agency, U.S. Customs and Border Protection,  reports the website AllGov.com.

David V. Aguilar has been named the head of  the agency. The move came after after Senate Republicans refused to hold a hearing on President Barack Obama’s nomination, Alan Bersin.

Aguilar has worked on the border for 33 years, according to the news report. As of January 1, 2012, Aguilar now commands more than 20,000 border enforcement officials.

Aguilar joined the Border Patrol in June of 1978, in Laredo, Texas. He was a first line supervisor and then Assistant Patrol Agent in Charge and Patrol Agent in Charge in Laredo. From 1988 to 1996 Aguilar was a Patrol Agent in Charge for three Border Patrol Stations in Texas: Dallas, Rio Grande Valley and Brownsville. He continued moving upward in Texas and Arizona after that.

To read more click here.

Ex-ATF Chief Blames Underlings for Fast and Furious

Ken Melson/atf photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The then-acting head of ATF, Ken Melson, told Congressional investigators back in July that he was irate that his underlings didn’t tell him about the controversial agency program Fast and Furious, an operation that encouraged gun dealers in Arizona to sell to “straw purchasers” with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Melson, who made the statement during a July deposition, complained that his chief intelligence officer at ATF was upset with the operation, but did little to shut it down, the Times reported.

“He didn’t come in and tell me, either,” Melson said, according to the LA Times. “And he’s on the same damn floor as I am.”

Melson resigned under pressure in August.

B. Todd Jones, the current acting head of ATF who replaced Melson, commented, saying Melson let field agents and supervisors violate the agency’s approved tactics.

Jones told the Times that the weak management structure at ATF — five acting directors in the last six years — provided a green light for some field agents to ignore Washington and act independently.

“There was a vacuum. Fast and Furious went off the rails, and there were plenty of opportunities to pivot so none of this would happen,” Jones said, according to the Times.

To read more click here.

Arsonist Sentenced in Post-Obama Election Burning of Black Church

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

A Massachusetts man was sentenced to nearly 14 years for a 2010 arson incident, according to a statement from the FBI.

Michael Jacques, a 27-year-old of Springfield, Mass., was sentenced to 166 months in federal prison in connection with the arson of the Macedonia Church of God in Christ in Springfield, a predominately African-American church, according to the statement, hours after Barack Obama was elected president. The prison term will be followed by four years of supervised release, and Jacques was also ordered to pay $1.6 million in restitution, including $123,570 directly to the church.

The church was 75 percent complete, and the fire destroyed nearly everything, authorities said.

Jacques was found guilty in April of this year of conspiracy against civil rights, damage or destruction of religious property and use of fire to commit a felony. Benjamin Haskell and Thomas Gleason, Jacques’ co-conspirators, plead guilty to charges in 2010. Haskell was sentenced to nine years, while Gleason is set for sentencing in January.

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ATF Changes Policy, Gun Control Advocates Unhappy

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The ATF is loosening restrictions on the sale of guns to noncitizens, reports the New York Times.

Justice Department lawyers have decided that a rule requiring noncitizens to document that they have lived in a state for at least 90 days has no legal basis, according to a letter sent to firearms dealers on Thursday, reports the Times.

Citizens also must generally be residents in the states they purchase firearms in, but the 90-day rule does not apply to them.

“Once the regulations have been revised, both U.S. citizens and aliens legally present in the U.S. will be subject to the same requirements for state residency and proof of residency,” the A.T.F. said in the letter.

Gun control advocates such as Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, Democrat of New Jersey, had immediate criticism of the move. The change in law “defies common sense and puts Americans at risk” by making it easier for foreign terrorists to buy guns in the US, said Lautenberg, the Times reported.

To read more click here.

Mexican Officials Spying for America

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Despite fiery rhetoric from congressional Republicans, it appears that botched gun-walking programs have not completely soured relations between Mexican and US federal law enforcement.

Fox News Latino cites a Spanish-language news report that at least 80 former employees of the Mexican government are currently working for US agencies as spies.

The La Jornada newspaper reported over the weekend that Mexicans have worked as agents for the DEA, ATF and ICE.

To read more click here.

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Retiring Houston ATF Chief Offers His Views on Agency and Guns to Mexico

By Dane Schiller
Houston Chronicle

Dewey Webb, head of the Houston division for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, is retiring this month after a career that began in 1976. T

he Oklahoma native, who can trace his family to full-blooded Choctaw and Cherokee Native Americans, has gone against moonshiners, weapons traffickers, drug cartels and terrorists, including Timothy McVeigh. He’s also seen his agency endure plenty of controversy, and as he leaves, he says he’s more certain than ever that ATF must continue to try to stop guns from heading to Mexico. He recently sat down with Houston Chronicle reporter Dane Schiller. Here are some excerpts from that conversation.

Q: When the ATF is brought up, some people get very angry. Why do they hate you guys?

A: Over the years, we have been villainized by certain groups. It is very political. … There are so many people out there who are afraid the government is going to decide one day to take away all the guns. It is never going to happen in this country.

Q: Why has the ATF remained a small agency and not grown, as the Drug Enforcement Administration has?

A: There is a fear that if we get too big, it will infringe on gun rights, which is the furthest thing from the truth. Having strong firearms policies and laws is the best way to preserve gun rights.

To read more click here.

ATF Announces New Philly Leader

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

The ATF’s Philadelphia Field Office is about to see some new leadership, reports PR Newswire.

Sheree L. Mixell was named the Special Agent in Charge of the Philadelphia Field Division on Thursday.

The Indiana native began her career as a special agent with ATF in 1990 and has over 23 years of law enforcement experience. For three years,  she served as a member of the Baltimore Field Division Special Response Team, responding to high risk situations and apprehending some of the region’s most violent criminals, according to the report.

She most recently served  as the Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the ATF’s Baltimore Field Division, directing and providing oversight for daily investigations for Maryland and Delaware.

To read more click here.

 

ATF’s Tom Brandon Named ticklethewire.com’s Fed of the Year

Tom Brandon/atf photo

 By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Thomas E. Brandon, the straight-shooting, well respected and extremely able veteran of ATF, who was sent around the country this year to try and mend some of the agencies pressing problems, has been named ticklethewire.com’s Fed Of The Year for 2011.

Brandon, an ex-Marine who is currently ATF’s number two person in Washington, started the year off as special agent in charge of ATF’s Detroit office, where he was very well respected.

In the spring, after the agency started coming under Congressional fire for Operation Fast and Furious, Brandon was sent off to Phoenix to head up that office and try and improve morale and straighten out matters.

Fast Furious was created in the Phoenix office. Under Fast and Furious, ATF encouraged Arizona gun dealers to sell to straw purchasers, all with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels.

Problem was, ATF lost track of many of the guns, some of which surfaced at crime scenes on both sides of the border. Some members of Congress like Rep. Darrell Issa and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Ia) went on the attack, criticizing ATF. Some even suggested folding it into the FBI.

In late August, acting director  Ken Melson stepped down. In October, as part of a major shakeup at the agency,  Brandon was summoned from Phoenix to become the number two guy in Washington.

We think it speaks volumes that Brandon has been sent to the agency’s hotspots to help straighten out things at a time the agency has come under fire, the likes of which hasn’t been seen since Waco.  To boot, it’s easy to find street agents who respect Brandon, who has been an agent since 1989.

Brandon is the fourth person to receive the Fed of the Year Award.  Previous recipients have included Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald (2008),  Warren Bamford, who headed the Boston FBI (2009) and Joseph Evans, regional director for the DEA’s North and Central Americas Region in Mexico City (2010).