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Tag: Guns

Agents Lost Track of More than 1,000 Guns in Fast and Furious; ATF Agents in Mexico Were Furious About Operation

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The latest report on ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious shows that ATF officials in Mexico City were becoming increasingly alarmed and incensed when learning of the number of guns linked to the operation that were being found  at violent crime scenes in Mexico.

The report, released by Rep. Darrell Issa(R-Calif.) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Ia), also stated that federal agents running the operation out of Arizona could not account for more than 1,000 guns bought by suspects in  the operation that encouraged gun dealers in Arizona to sell to middlemen or straw purchasers, with the hopes of tracing the guns to the Mexican cartels.

The report is being released just at the Issa’s Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is set to conduct hearings on the matter on Tuesday at 10 a.m. The testimony is expected to be explosive.

“The consequences of arming Mexican drug cartels seem obvious,” Issa said in a statement. “But even guns turning up at crime scenes in Mexico wasn’t enough for Justice Department officials to arrest straw purchasers and shut down their trafficking operations. Tragically, it wasn’t until Fast and Furious guns were found at the murder scene of a Border Patrol Agent that Justice officials finally ended this reckless and arrogant effort.”

Grassley added: “ It’s incomprehensible that officials at the Justice Department, the ATF and the U.S. attorney’s office would keep their counterparts at the U.S. embassy in Mexico City in the dark about Operation Fast and Furious. Keeping key details secret while straw purchasers continued buying weapons for gun traffickers jeopardized our relationship with our southern ally and put lives at risk.”

A press release issued by Issa and Grassley also stated:

There was little to no information sharing from the Phoenix Field Division, ATF Headquarters and the Justice Department to their colleagues in Mexico City. Every time Mexico City officials asked about the mysterious investigation, their U.S. based ATF counterparts in Phoenix and Washington, D.C. continued to say they were “working on it” and “everything was under control.”

Lanny Breuer, the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division at the Justice Department, was clearly aware of Operation Fast and Furious and touted the case during a visit to Mexico.

ATF officials in Mexico City were incredulous that their agency would knowingly allow guns to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels, and they were incensed when they finally began to learn the full scope of Operation Fast and Furious and the investigative techniques used.

To read report click here.

LA Times Editorial: Obama Admin. Takes Concrete Step Toward Curbing Gun Flow to Mexico

atf file photo

By The Los Angeles Times Editorial Page

The Obama administration took a concrete step toward curbing the flow of semiautomatic weapons to Mexico last week when it adopted a new regulation mandating the reporting of multiple sales of long guns to federal authorities. Under the regulation, some 8,500 licensed gun shops in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas will be required to inform the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a customer buys more than one semiautomatic that is .22 caliber or greater within a five-day period. The regulation is a small but significant tool that could help federal authorities keep weapons sold in the United States out of the hands of Mexican gangs and drug cartels. Rather than tracing an AK-47 after it has been recovered from a crime scene, ATF agents may be able to intervene before the weapon is smuggled across the border. The National Rifle Assn. is, not surprisingly, denouncing the modest rule as encroaching on Americans’ 2nd Amendment rights; in fact, it is already threatening to sue the federal government, contending that only Congress can impose such rules. To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Report Says ATF Agent Predicted Death and Congressional Inquiry After ATF Launched Controversial Gun Program; Agents Worried Guns Might be Linked to Gabrielle Giffords Shooting

atf file photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

One ATF agent told Congressional investigators  that someone was going to die  from ATF’s controversial gun-walking program dubbed “Operation Fast and Furious”, and he predicted the program would become the subject of a Congressional inquiry.

That prediction by agent Larry Alt was noted in a  51-page report released Tuesday Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Ia.).

It detailed critical comments from four ATF agents made to Congressional investigators about the gun-walking program. The agents worked on the controversial operation that encouraged gun dealers in Arizona to sell to straw purchasers, all with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels. Some of the guns ended up being used in crimes including in the murder of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, authorities have said.

Agents told how they raised grave concerns about the gun program, and were distressed about it all,  but were told to back off.

One agent, John Dodson said, according to the report, that a supervisor was downright giddy that the guns were linked to crimes, saying the supervisor thought it was proof they were on the right track.

“Whenever he would get a trace report back . . . he was jovial, if not, not giddy, but just delighted about that, hey, 20 of our guns were recovered with 350 pounds of dope in Mexico last night. And it was exciting. To them it proved the nexus to the drug cartels. It validated that . . . we were really working the cartel case here,” Dodson said.

The report, released on Tuesday, was part of a blitz this week by Rep.  Issa  and Sen. Grassley to find out information about the ATF program, and to apply more public pressure on the Justice Department and ATF to come forward with information.  Issa, chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, held a hearing on the issue on Monday and has scheduled another hearing for Wednesday morning.

“ATF agents have shared chilling accounts of being ordered to stand down as criminals in Arizona walked away with guns headed for Mexican drug cartels,”  Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said in a statement about the report.“With the clinical precision of a lab experiment, the Justice Department kept records of weapons they let walk and the crime scenes where they next appeared. To agents’ shock, preventing loss of life was not the primary concern.”

“These agents have risked their lives working for the ATF and they’ve risked their careers by coming forward to speak the truth about a dangerous strategy that was doomed from the start,” added Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Ia.),. “The report shows the street agents’ perspective on this risky policy to let guns walk. It should help people who are wondering what really happened during Operation Fast and Furious understand why we are continuing to investigate.”

The report, which is highly critical of the Department of Justice, concluded: “Despite mounting evidence to the contrary, DOJ continues to deny that Operation Fast and Furious was ill-conceived and had deadly consequences.”

The report also said that the shooting of  Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords created a “state of panic” within  the group conducting the operation because it initially feared a “walked” gun might have been used.

Agent  Dodson was also  quoted as saying about the operation:

“But every day being out here watching a guy go into the same gun store buying another 15 or 20 AK-47s or variants or . . . five or ten Draco pistols or FN Five-sevens . . . guys that don’t have a job, and he is walking in here spending $27,000 for three Barrett .50 calibers at . . . walks in with his little bag going in there to buy it, and you are sitting there every day and you can’t do anything, you have this conversation every day.”

“And quite frankly, it is unfathomable to me how both sides or any person isn’t completely livid about what we have been doing here. I cannot see anyone who has one iota of concern for human life being okay with this…,” he added.

The Justice Department on Wednesday pointed to a comment from Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr. when first learning of ATF agents’ concerns about the controversial proogram:

“Fighting criminal activity along the Southwest Border – including the illegal trafficking of guns to Mexico – has been a priority of this Administration and this Department of Justice.

“The Attorney General takes the allegations that have been raised by some ATF agents about the Fast and Furious operation seriously, which is why he has asked the Inspector General to investigate the matter. The Department has also made clear to law enforcement agencies and prosecutors working along the Southwest Border that under no circumstances should guns be allowed to cross the border into Mexico.”

Read Report

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

No Surprise: Senate Report Says U.S. Guns Going to Mexican Drug Traffickers at Alarming Rate; Makes Recommendations

atf file photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Certainly this comes as no surprise.

A Congressional report released Monday concludes that American military-style weapons are arming Mexico’s violent drug organizations at an alarming rate and policy makers are not adequately responding.

“Congress has been virtually moribund while powerful Mexican drug trafficking organizations continue to gain unfettered access to military-style firearms coming from the United States,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), one of three Senators who issued the report. The others were Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).

“New ATF data provided last week reveals that more than 70 percent of firearms recovered at crime scenes and traced by Mexican officials actually originated in the United States<” Feinstein said.

Sen. Schumer added:  “This report confirms what many of us already know to be true: although the Senate’s recently passed border measure will help make our Southern border safer, it is still too easy for Mexican drug lords to get their hands on deadly military-grade weapons within our borders. “We need to redouble our efforts to keep violent firearms out of the hands of these traffickers.”

The report recommends legislation to make it tougher to buy weapons at guns shows: better enforcement of the existing ban on imports of military-style weapons; reinstatement of the expired Assault Weapons Ban; reporting by Federal Firearms Licensees on all multiple firearms sales; and Senate ratification of the Inter-American Convention Against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking of Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and Other Related Materials (CIFTA).

Read report

Suspected Terrorists Can Still Legally Buy Guns


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Apparently suspected terrorist have the right to buy guns too.

The Associated Press reported that 247 people with suspected terrorism ties bought guns last year in the U.S. after going through the mandatory background check, according to FBI stats.

AP reported that it is not illegal to buy guns even if you’re on the terrorist watch list.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J. has been trying to change the law to address that issue, AP reported.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

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.

Az. Feds Bust Gun Runners to Mexico

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

In Arizona, which is locked in an endless battle to keep guns from going into Mexico, comes the latest.

Authorities on Tuesday announced indictments in five cases resulting in charges against 34 people accused of assisting Mexican drug trafficking organizations with illegally running firearms from the United States to Mexico.

Authorities charged in one of the key indictments that from approximately September 2009 to December of 2010 the defendants conspired to purchase hundreds of firearms, including AK-47s, to be illegally exported to Mexico.

Authorities alleged that the defendants acted as “straw purchasers” by falsely declaring they were buying the weapons for themselves. AK-47’s are considered the “weapon of choice” for Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations.

“Our office is committed to stopping the illegal flow of guns into Mexico,” U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke said. “The massive size of this operation sadly exemplifies the magnitude of the problem — Mexican Drug Lords go shopping for war weapons in Arizona.”

Bill Newell, head of ATF in Phoenix said: “This investigation is further proof of the relentless efforts by Mexican drug cartels, especially the Sinaloa Cartel, to illegally acquire large quantities of firearms in Arizona and elsewhere in the U.S. for use in the ongoing Mexican drug war.”

ATF Wants Gun Dealers Along Mexico Border To Report Rifle Sales of 2 or More to Same Person

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — ATF has asked the White House to ok an emergency order to require gun dealers along the Mexico border to report sales of two or more rifles to the same person within five days, the Washington Post reported.

The measure is part of an ongoing crackdown on the flow of guns from America into the hands of the Mexican drug cartels.

The  Post reported that the plan revives a proposal the Justice Department and White House have sat on.

The NRA is none too happy, the Post reported.

“This administration does not have the guts to build a wall, but they do have the audacity to blame and register gun owners for Mexico’s problems,” Chris Cox, chief lobbyist for the NRA told the Post. “NRA supports legitimate efforts to stop criminal activity, but we will not stand idle while our Second Amendment is sacrificed for politics.”

To read more click here.