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Tag: ATF

U.S. Falling Far Short in Effort to Battle Guns in Mexico, LA Times Reports

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — America seems to be falling short when it comes to committing resources to battle the burgeoning problem of guns being smuggled into Mexico.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

“U.S. authorities in Mexico charged with stemming the flow of U.S. weapons to drug cartels have been hampered by shortfalls in staffing, agents with limited Spanish skills and the difficulty of recruiting new agents to the dangerous posting because they can’t officially carry weapons, current and former staff members say.”

Rene Jaquez, a former ATF attache in Mexico City and deputy attache in Ciudad Juarez, told the paper that agents didn’t have the resources to effectively go after gun smugglers.

“I can tell you from my perspective as the former country attache in Mexico … that ATF has not taken seriously its role in the international affairs program as far as Mexico is concerned,” Jaquez told the Times.

To read more click here.

Some Federal Agents “Anguished” Over ATF Operation That Let Guns into Mexico

atf photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

A variety of federal agent voiced “anguished objections” over an ATF operation that allowed guns to be smuggled in Mexico so they could be traced to the top levels of the drug cartels, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The paper reported that the operation known as “Operation Fast and Furious” lost track of hundreds of firearms, many which have been linked to crimes including the murder of a Border Patrol agent last December.

“With the number of guns we let walk, we’ll never know how many people were killed, raped, robbed,” ATF agent John Dodson said in an interview with the Center for Public Integrity, according to the LA Times. “There is nothing we can do to round up those guns. They are gone.”

Dodson said in that interview that he was still haunted by his participation in the operation, the Times reported.

The paper reported that “ATF said agents took every possible precaution to assure that guns were recovered before crossing into Mexico.”

ATF spokesman Scot L. Thomasson said the operation is under evaluation, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“It’s always a good business practice to review any new strategy six or eight months after you’ve initiated it, to make sure it’s working, that it’s having the desired effect, and then make adjustments as you see fit to ensure it’s successful,” he said.

Meanwhile, Washington Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt wrote in a column on Friday after meeting with Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon, that the president said the flow into Mexico  of assault weapons like AK-47s rose “exponentially” after Congress let a ban on the sale of assault weapons expire in 2004.

One Gun Used in Slaying of ICE Agent in Mexico Linked to Suspected Texas Gun Trafficker

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

ATF said Tuesday it had arrested a suspected gun trafficker in Texas who allegedly bought one of the weapons that wound up in Mexico and was used to kill ICE agent Jaime Zapata on Feb. 15.

Authorities said Mexican authorities recovered three guns used in the ICE agent’s slaying — one of which was tied to suspected gun trafficker Otilio Osorio. He and his brother Ranferi Osorio, 27, were arrested Monday at their home in Lancaster, Tex. on charges of possessing firearms with obliterated serial numbers.

Authorities alleged that Osorio purchased the firearm used in the ICE agent’s slaying last Oct. 10 in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. ATF said ballistic testing conducted by Mexican authorities linked the weapon to Zapata’s death.

In a separate  criminal complaint,  authorities arrested  Kelvin Leon Morrison, 25, who lived next door to the Osorio brothers, on charges of knowingly making false statements in connection with the acquisition of firearms and dealing in firearms without a license.

U.S. authorities have been trying to battle an increasing problem of illegal gun traffickers shipping guns south to the Mexican drug cartels.

White House Can’t Pull the Trigger; Delays Emergency Request to Require Gun Reporting Along the Mexican Border


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The White House just can’t seem to pull the trigger.

James V. Grimaldi of the Washington Post reports that White House budget officials once against delayed a decision for at least two months on an emergency request that would require gun dealers along the Mexican border to report people who buy two or more assault weapons in five days.

The Post reported that the White House officials want to show more transparency and give the public more time – until Feb. 14 – to comment on the proposal.

The NRA has opposed the rule and ATF has been pushing for it to help clamp down on guns going into Mexico and into the hands of the cartels. It’s the second time implementation of the rule has been delayed.

To read more click here.

ATF Investigating Whether VA. Inmate Used Facebook to Threaten Witnesses

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Apparently Facebook isn’t just for chatting it up with old pals or initiating a discussion about the latest Monet art exhibit.

ATF is investigating allegations that a Virginia inmate used Facebook to threaten government witnesses in his upcoming arson case, station WSLS reported.

The station, citing a federal search warrant for his cell, said investigators were trying to determine if inmate John Conner Jr. contacted his girlfriend via phone and mail and had her contact witnesses in his upcoming trial through his Facebook account.

Conner, an inmate serving a six year sentence at the Western Virginia Regional Jail in Salem, Va., is awaiting trial in April on federal charges that he set his ex-girlfriend’s duplex on fire on Nov. 15, 2008 when they were still together, WSLS reported.

The station reported that he set the fire after his girlfriend spit in his face during a spat.

Washington Post Editorial: Administration Reverses Proposal to Cut ATF Budget

govt photo

By The Washington Post
Editorial

WASHINGTON — MANY PRESIDENTS, fearful of alienating the powerful gun lobby, have neglected the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Funding requests are often skimpy, making it that much more difficult for the emaciated agency to crack down on illegal sales and trafficking of firearms.

The Obama administration was headed in this direction in mid-December, just weeks before the Arizona shootings that took the lives of six people and injured 13 others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.). As The Post’s James V. Grimaldi and Sari Horwitz reported, the administration contemplated reducing the ATF’s budget by some 13 percent – a $160 million cut that would have brought the agency’s budget to $1.09 billion and put in jeopardy key programs.

The administration wisely – and in this political climate, bravely – appears to have had a change of heart. “As part of the president’s commitment to strengthening core law enforcement and homeland security functions – even as we make tough choices across the government – the 2012 budget includes robust support for Southwest border security, including an increase above current funding levels for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives,” according to Margaret L. Reilly, a spokeswoman at the Office of Management and Budget. In plain English: The administration is promising to increase the ATF’s budget beyond the $1.13 billion currently included in the 2011 continuing resolution. OMB declined to provide the exact dollar amount.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Sen. Grassley Accuses ATF of Being “Careless” in Gun Running Sting

Sen. Grassley/official photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Ia.) is voicing concern that guns purchased in an ATF sting in Arizona may have been used by bandits in a gunfight that resulted in the death in December of  border patrol agent Brian Terry near the border town of Nogales, the Arizona Republic reported.

Grassley fired off a letter to the head of ATF Kenneth Melson on Thursday suggesting ATF was being negligent by letting criminals circulate the weapons after they purchased them during a sting.

“There are serious concerns that the ATF may have become careless, if not negligent, in implementing the Gunrunner strategy,” he wrote, according to the Arizona Republic.

The paper reported that Grassley said he had information that the AK-47s recovered at the shooting scene of the agent were traced to Project Gunrunner, a much touted gun-program aimed at curbing the flow of weapons to Mexico.

“Members of the Judiciary Committee have received numerous allegations that the ATF sanctioned the sale of hundreds of assault weapons to suspected straw purchasers, who then allegedly transported these weapons throughout the southwestern border area and into Mexico,” the senator wrote in the  letter, according to the paper.

“According to the allegations, one of these individuals purchased three assault rifles with cash in Glendale, Arizona, on January 16, 2010. Two of the weapons were then allegedly used in a firefight on December 14, 2010, against Customs and Border Protection agents, killing CBP Agent Brian Terry,” he wrote.

Tom Mangan, an ATF spokesman in Phoenix, told he Arizona Republic that he was “unaware of any guns allowed to go south of the border,” either intentionally or inadvertently. “I am not aware of any internal investigation that’s going on regarding Project Gunrunner.”

Manuel Johnson, an FBI agent in Phoenix, declined to comment, as did the U.S. Border Patrol, the Republic reported.

Proposed Budget Cuts Could be “Amputation” For ATF

James Cavanaugh/atf photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Proposed deep budget cuts could undermine some key ATF programs like “Project Gun Runner”, a signature program under the Obama administration designed to crack down on the flow of weapons to Mexico and its cartels, the Washington Post reported.

The Post’s James Grimaldi and Sari Horwitz report that the proposed ATF cuts would amount to nearly $160 million out of a $1.25 billion budget request or a 12.8 percent reduction. They reported that administration officials said the proposed cuts were part of an early draft and could change.

Nonetheless, the cuts have renewed cries by some that ATF seldom seems to get the respect its due from administrations.

“ATF is the ugly stepchild of every administration,” former ATF official James Cavanaugh, who retired last year, told the Post.

“It would really handicap the ATF. It’s a small agency and it’s a lean machine. There are not a lot of agents and inspectors. There is not a lot of fat. With ATF, it would be an amputation.”

To read full story click here.