Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms fails to do their job, and it costs lives.

GRtak

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http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/02/23/eveningnews/main20035609.shtml

Gunrunning scandal uncovered at the ATF

(CBSNews) WASHINGTON - Keeping American weapons from getting into the hands of Mexican gangs is the goal of a program called "Project Gunrunner." But critics say it's doing exactly the opposite. CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports on what she found.


December 14, 2010. The place: a dangerous smuggling route in Arizona not far from the border. A special tactical border squad was on patrol when gunfire broke out and agent Brian Terry was killed.


Kent, Brian's brother, said "he was my only brother. That was the only brother I had. I'm lost."


The assault rifles found at the murder were traced back to a U.S. gun shop. Where they came from and how they got there is a scandal so large, some insiders say it surpasses the shoot-out at Ruby Ridge and the deadly siege at Waco.


To understand why, it helps to know something about "Project Gunrunner" an operation run by the ATF the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Read the indictment

"Project Gunrunner" deployed new teams of agents to the southwest border. The idea: to stop the flow of weapons from the US to Mexico's drug cartels. But in practice, sources tell CBS News, ATF's actions had the opposite result: they allegedly facilitated the delivery of thousands of guns into criminal hands.


CBS News wanted to ask ATF officials about the case, but they wouldn't agree to an interview. We were able to speak to six veteran ATF agents and executives involved. They don't want to be quoted by name for fear of retaliation. These are their allegations.


In late 2009, ATF was alerted to suspicious buys at seven gun shops in the Phoenix area. Suspicious because the buyers paid cash, sometimes brought in paper bags. And they purchased classic "weapons of choice" used by Mexican drug traffickers - semi-automatic versions of military type rifles and pistols.


Sources tell CBS News several gun shops wanted to stop the questionable sales, but ATF encouraged them to continue.


Jaime Avila was one of the suspicious buyers. ATF put him in its suspect database in January of 2010. For the next year, ATF watched as Avila and other suspects bought huge quantities of weapons supposedly for "personal use." They included 575 AK-47 type semi-automatic rifles.


ATF managers allegedly made a controversial decision: allow most of the weapons on the streets. The idea, they said, was to gather intelligence and see where the guns ended up. Insiders say it's a dangerous tactic called letting the guns, "walk."


One agent called the strategy "insane." Another said: "We were fully aware the guns would probably be moved across the border to drug cartels where they could be used to kill."


On the phone, one Project Gunrunner source (who didn't want to be identified) told us just how many guns flooded the black market under ATF's watchful eye. "The numbers are over 2,500 on that case by the way. That's how many guns were sold - including some 50-calibers they let walk."


50-caliber weapons are fearsome. For months, ATF agents followed 50-caliber Barrett rifles and other guns believed headed for the Mexican border, but were ordered to let them go. One distraught agent was often overheard on ATF radios begging and pleading to be allowed to intercept transports. The answer: "Negative. Stand down."


CBS News has been told at least 11 ATF agents and senior managers voiced fierce opposition to the strategy. "It got ugly..." said one. There was "screaming and yelling" says another. A third warned: "this is crazy, somebody is gonna to get killed."


Sure enough, the weapons soon began surfacing at crime scenes in Mexico - dozens of them sources say - including shootouts with government officials.


One agent argued with a superior asking, "are you prepared to go to the funeral of a federal officer killed with one of these guns?" Another said every time there was a shooting near the border, "we would all hold our breath hoping it wasn't one of 'our' guns."


Then, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered. The serial numbers on the two assault rifles found at the scene matched two rifles ATF watched Jaime Avila buy in Phoenix nearly a year before. Officials won't answer whether the bullet that killed Terry came from one of those rifles. But the nightmare had come true: "walked" guns turned up at a federal agent's murder.


"You feel like s***. You feel for the parents," one ATF veteran told us.


Hours after Agent Terry was gunned down, ATF finally arrested Avila. They've since indicted 34 suspected gunrunners in the same group. But the indictment makes no mention of Terry's murder, and no one is charged in his death.


Kent Terry said of his brother, "He'd want them to tell the truth. That's one thing my brother didn't like was a liar. And that's what he'd want. He'd want the truth.


In a letter, the Justice Department which oversees ATF says the agency has never knowingly allowed the sale of assault weapons to suspected gunrunners.
 

SpitfireMK461

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It sounds like a good idea that was taken too far. It certainly is necessary to find where the guns go so the paths can be closed, but 2500 guns? Barrett Rifles? That is irresponsible.
 

nomix

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A Barret can disable a taxing airliner from quite a distance, if deployed correctly. That is indeed too much firepower for the cartels. Not that they don't have it already, wouldn't suprise me to see them using 50 cal machine guns.
 

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With the right ammo, a 50 cal can disable an armored vehicle.
 

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A Barret can disable a taxing airliner from quite a distance, if deployed correctly. That is indeed too much firepower for the cartels. Not that they don't have it already, wouldn't suprise me to see them using 50 cal machine guns.

That's too much firepower for anyone. Unless you're in the Savannah and scared of rampaging elephants, there's no justification for selling such weapons to civilians.
What's craziest about this story is that normally, guns and explosives bought or manufactured in poor countries make their way into richer ones where they're used in violent acts... while this is the exact opposite.
And all of this cos of god damned drugs
 

GRtak

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And all of this cos of god damned drugs

This is not because of the drugs, but the laws against them. All you have to do is look at what happened during Alcohol Prohibition in the USA. When something like drugs or alcohol are banned, the black market steps in to take advantage of the enormous profits to be made from selling the banned substance, and they will fight to protect it. When Alcohol Prohibition was repealed, the most of the violence associated with alcohol went away too(can't account for drunks doing stupid things).

http://www.businessinsider.com/wiki...s-guard-leaked-secrets-to-drug-cartels-2011-2

WIKILEAKS: Mexican President's Guard Leaked Secrets To Drug Cartels


A Mexican army officer assigned to guard President Felipe Calderon leaked military intelligence to drug cartels, trained hit men and supplied military weapons to Los Zetas, according to a U.S. Embassy cable recently released by Wikileaks.

The U.S. Embassy cable, dated Jan. 20, 2009, says the case was the most serious security breach during the Calderon presidency and indicates that Mexico's powerful drug cartels have infiltrated large parts of the security apparatus.

One of the main reasons that the Mexican government relies on the army to fight the cartels is because the military is thought to be less corrupt than state and local police forces.

The document says Mexican officials had "sought to downplay the seriousness of the breach."

Calderon lashed out at senior American diplomats Tuesday, saying their "ignorance has translated into a distortion of what is happening in Mexico." He accused U.S. agencies of not doing enough to help Mexico combat the drug cartels.

"The institutional cooperation ends up being notoriously insufficient," Calderon told El Universal.

The comments were Calderon's first public criticism of the U.S. in response to a recent Wikileaks cable dump that highlights U.S. concerns over the depth of Mexico's drug-related problems.

His remarks came as mourners gathered for the funeral of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent who was shot and killed by Los Zetas hitmen in Mexico last week. The incident threatens to further strain cross-border relations.

And this is the kind of corruption the laws help fuel.
 
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Spectre

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Hey, guys, WELCOME TO THREE MONTHS AGO! Geez, you guys are f'ing slow. Only NOW are you guys waking up to this idiocy? I've known about it since December. Even posted something about it yesterday on the Gun Thread.

Item: Armor piercing ammo is not allowed to be sold to civilians.
Item: A .22 LR round, such as that shot by an Olympic biathlon rifle, can disable a jet liner. You don't need a .50 BMG to do that. Airliners are very thin-skinned aluminum tubes. In fact, the US Air Force issues a slightly modified Bowie knife with a serrated back - so air crew can cut themselves out of the wreckage of their downed planes. That's right, you can easily punch through the skin of a plane with a knife, let alone a bullet. It's paper-thin aluminum!
Item: There are big game and long distance rifles that actually carry a higher velocity and energy despite having a smaller round. The .50BMG is big and impressive, but it's not the OMGINSTAKILL weapon you think it is. It's also extraordinarily expensive to buy one, it's expensive to feed one (often several dollars per round and I'm not talking about tracers), and they are very large, very cumbersome weapons, barely man-portable at best. The M82 weighs THIRTY POUNDS empty and is 57 inches long. It does NOT break down for transport. Did I mention the things are ridiculously expensive and not surprisingly usually only found in the hands of the police or military? In fact, most of the ones found in 'the wrong hands' were, uh, stolen or bought from said police or military somewhere, not civilian hands.
Item: No crime of violence has ever been committed in the US with a legally-civilian-held .50 BMG weapon.
Item: The cartels already have .50BMG weapons... mostly ones WE sold to the Mexican, El Salvadoran, Guatemalan, etc., etc. militaries and police.

I also strongly suggest you read this post and the referenced source article first, before you go any further: http://forums.finalgear.com/off-topic/the-gun-thread-34352/page-63/#post1598928
 
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nomix

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It can. But a .22 is not designed as an anti material round.
 

Spectre

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You can punch through the skin of some planes with a PEN. You know, the thing you write with? Yeah, one of those.

If your task is to disable a taxiing jetliner, you don't need a .50 BMG. My much more commonly available Remington 700 in .308 or a Lapua .338 rifle will do the job just fine from not much closer than you'd need to be for a .50.

If your concern is "OMG SOMEONE MIGHT BRING DOWN AN AIRCRAFT WITH ONE", yeah, sorry, that's damn near any firearm that can do that. Planes generally do not require the use of an anti-materiel rifle.
 

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And yet, it will be a very effective way of doing it. An anti material round is, in of itself, designed for doing a job that civilians really don't have a need to do. Let's just agree that a fucking Barret .50 is a more effective way of disabling an airplane than a fucking pen.
 

Spectre

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And yet, it will be a very effective way of doing it. An anti material round is, in of itself, designed for doing a job that civilians really don't have a need to do. Let's just agree that a fucking Barret .50 is a more effective way of disabling an airplane than a fucking pen.

And an 'antimateriel' round, such as the Raufoss, is NOT legal for US civilians to have in the FIRST place! I can't buy explosive or DP rounds at my local store or gun show. I can get surplussed old tracer and ball and that's about it.

So if you can't buy that ammo in stores or at shows, where the hell do you get it? Oh, wait, the ATF will happily provide it, apparently.
 
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nomix

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The ATF has been acting like complete arses, we agree on that.
 

Spectre

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The ATF has been acting like complete arses, we agree on that.

The fun part (from my point of view) is that they continued to blame US civilian gun sales for this when it clearly was the agency setting up weapons to be carried across that wouldn't normally be on the civilian market as they would be illegal. See the post I linked above, I have more info on 'Project Gunwalker' there.
 
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Spectre

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And oh, look, the main stream media is grudgingly starting to report the story, almost four months after it broke. We also now know the name of the operation, and it was just as much fail as the operational concept itself. From the Los Angeles Times:

U.S. gun-tracing operation let firearms into criminal hands
A federal operation aimed at tracing weapons to Mexican drug cartels lost track of hundreds, including two guns found at the scene of a Border Patrol agent's killing in Arizona.
By Kim Murphy, Los Angeles Times

March 3, 2011, 6:13 p.m.

A federal operation that allowed weapons from the U.S. to pass into the hands of suspected gun smugglers so they could be traced to the higher echelons of Mexican drug cartels has lost track of hundreds of firearms, many of which have been linked to crimes, including the fatal shooting of a Border Patrol agent in December.

The investigation, known as Operation Fast and Furious, was conducted even though U.S. authorities suspected that some of the weapons might be used in crimes, according to a variety of federal agents who voiced anguished objections to the operation.

Many of the weapons have spread across the most violence-torn states in Mexico, with at least 195 linked to some form of crime or law enforcement action, according to documents obtained by the Center for Public Integrity and The Times.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which ran the operation, said that 1,765 guns were sold to suspected smugglers during a 15-month period of the investigation. Of those, 797 were recovered on both sides of the border, including 195 in Mexico after they were used in crimes, collected during arrests or intercepted through other law enforcement operations.

John Dodson, an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives who worked on Operation Fast and Furious, said in an interview with the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit research group based in Washington, that he was still haunted by his participation in the investigation.

"With the number of guns we let walk, we'll never know how many people were killed, raped, robbed," he said. "There is nothing we can do to round up those guns. They are gone."

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

Scot L. Thomasson, the ATF's public affairs chief in Washington, said the Fast and Furious strategy is still under evaluation.

"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.

But enough concern has been raised that some Washington officials have begun to dig deeper into the details of the operation.

On Thursday, as President Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon met in Washington to discuss the increasing problems with drug and gun smuggling, Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. asked top officials at the Justice Department to consult the inspector general to determine if further investigation of the operation was needed.

U.S. Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, initiated an inquiry to determine whether guns traveled to Mexico through inadvertence or deliberate policy on the part of U.S. law enforcement.

"We still don't have the documents we've asked for. Maybe we will get the documents. But right now it's stonewalling," Grassley said in an interview Thursday.

"Too many government agencies always want the big case," he said. "They keep these gun-running sales moving along, even when they have people within the agency that say something bad's going to happen. They had plenty of warnings ? and the prophets turned out to be right."

Much of what is now known about the case has only surfaced in the last few months following the December shooting death in Arizona of Customs and Border Protection Agent Brian Terry.

But the investigation was underway more than a year earlier, when Mexican customs agents in the small border town of Naco stopped a passenger car traveling from the U.S. that was carrying a surprising cargo: 41 AK-47s, a .50-caliber rifle, 40 semiautomatic gun magazines, a telescopic rifle sight and three knives.

At least three guns found that day were traced through their serial numbers to a gun shop in Glendale, Ariz., which then led to a Phoenix man, Jaime Avila, who had purchased four weapons there.

Over the course of the next year, federal agents watched Avila and several associates buy more heavy-duty weapons, which investigators were convinced were intended for Mexican drug cartels.

Despite their suspicions, the ATF allowed Avila to continue.

It was part of a new strategy embarked upon after the agency had found it increasingly difficult to build cases against "straw buyers," who purchased weapons for the cartels.

The buyers were working for increasingly complex trafficking organizations in which guns were passed among several legal owners in many locations in the U.S. before being transferred to Mexico.

As a result, the ATF decided to go after not just the buyers, but the organizations, Thomasson said.

"That was the shift in strategy. We recognized we were facing a far more sophisticated trafficking organization. We recognized the organization was a lot deeper in bodies, and we recognized that unless we went after the head of the organization, the person ordering the guns, ordering the violence, we were going to have little to no success in stemming the violence down there," he said.

It was an attempt to apply the tactics of a narcotics investigation, in which small-scale drug buyers are allowed to operate under surveillance in the hope of catching their more powerful cartel counterparts.

But several veteran agents were outraged at the shift, saying that there is a big difference between tracking drugs and tracking guns. They saw the change as a violation of a sacred ATF policy: Make the big case or don't make the big case, but don't let the guns go.

"We're not talking about bags of dope. We're not letting the guy walk away with a stolen flat-screen TV. We're talking about guns. Our job is to keep guns off the street and out of criminals' hands and prevent them from being used in violent situations," said Jay Dobyns, an ATF agent in Phoenix who was not part of the Fast and Furious team but who has watched it unfold.

Dodson, the ATF agent who did work on the operation, was transferred last fall to the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force. He said a supervisor justified the strategy by saying, "If you're going to make an omelet, you've got to scramble some eggs."

"I took it to mean that whatever crimes these guns were going to be involved in, those were the eggs, those were acceptable," Dodson said.

One agent, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added: "We voiced our concerns quite vocally to the point of yelling, screaming. We were overridden."

The dissent prompted a harsh e-mail last March from the ATF's group supervisor in charge of the day-to-day operations, David J. Voth, warning agents to stay on board.

"Whether you care or not, people of rank and authority at HQ are paying close attention to this case, and they also believe we ? are doing what they envisioned the Southwest Border Groups doing," he wrote.

"I will be damned if this case is going to suffer due to petty arguing, rumors or other adolescent behavior," he added. "This is the pinnacle of domestic U.S. law enforcement techniques. ?Maybe the Maricopa County Jail is hiring detention officers and you can get paid $30,000 (instead of $100,000) to serve lunch to inmates all day."

But even Voth became worried about the number of guns moving to Mexico ? 359 last March alone, according to an e-mail he sent to the U.S. attorney's office in Phoenix.

The risks of Operation Fast and Furious became apparent on Dec. 14, when Terry was killed in a shootout with bandits near Rio Rico, Ariz.

To the horror of federal authorities, two guns whose serial numbers matched guns purchased by Avila the previous January were found at the scene. Avila was promptly arrested.

Two months after the shooting, Sen. Grassley sent a query to the Justice Department, asking for more detail on Terry's death.

In response, the department denied that any guns had been allowed to enter Mexico as part of an investigation.

"The allegation ? that ATF 'sanctioned' or otherwise knowingly allowed the sale of assault weapons to a straw purchaser who then transported them into Mexico ? is false," Assistant Atty. Gen. Ronald Welch wrote. "ATF makes every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally and prevent their transportation to Mexico."

The department said that Project Gunrunner, the umbrella operation across the Southwest border of which Operation Fast and Furious was a part, has resulted in the seizure of more than 10,000 firearms and 1.1 million rounds of ammunition destined for Mexico since 2006.

But Grassley produced documents provided by ATF agents in Phoenix and elsewhere that showed that weapons bought by straw purchasers who were under surveillance were finding their way to Mexico, in addition to the two guns found at the scene of Terry's shooting.

Avila and 33 others were indicted in January on charges of acting as straw purchasers of weapons, along with related drug and money laundering charges. As a result of detailed spadework, ATF and Justice Department officials say, those cases now include strong evidence against suspected recipients of the contraband weapons.

No one, however, has been charged with shooting Terry. ATF officials said there was no evidence showing the two Fast and Furious guns found at the scene were used to kill the agent.

On Thursday, the Justice Department declined again in a letter to Grassley to release internal communications about the sale of the weapons to Avila and a 30-page memo the ATF's special agent in charge, William D. Newell, reportedly wrote to ATF headquarters after Terry's death.

Welch said any such documents, if they exist, cannot be released while they are part of an ongoing investigation.

Terry's mother, Josephine, said she had received no answer as to how the two guns from Arizona came to be at the same place her son died.

"They don't tell us nothing. They say they don't want to mess up their investigation. I'm disappointed. I'm really disappointed," she said. "As devoted as my son was to the government, I think they just want him to go away. They just want to forget that this even happened."

According to other stories, such as the one in the Dallas Morning News and broadcast by WFAA-TV this morning, gun stores were SCREAMING to the ATF that they were suspicious of the buyers - but the ATF deliberately told them to ignore the NICS background check (which reportedly these buyers weren't passing) and sell them the guns anyway. The gun store owners and staff didn't fail, the civilian safeguards didn't fail - the government failed.
 

WillDAQ

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You can punch through the skin of some planes with a PEN. You know, the thing you write with? Yeah, one of those.

Sorry Spectre, but you do talk some crap sometimes.

You could shoot at a airliner will a 22 all day and it would still be flyable if damaged. Not so a 50cal.
 

Spectre

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Uh, no. Unless you have HE or other 'special' rounds, all it's going to do is make a .50" hole in the aluminum skin. And a .22 will go through the thin aluminum skin of an aircraft just fine, leaving a, well, 0.22" hole. In both cases, the plane can still fly.

But if I put a .22 into one of the compressor stages, it might just cause the turbine to self-destruct. If you don't think it can happen, why don't you go look at what happened to Concorde? A tiny strip got sucked into the engine, damaged a fan, threw it off balance and down Concorde went.

Someone's talking shit here, but it's not me.
 
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WillDAQ

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But if I put a .22 into one of the compressor stages, it might just cause the turbine to self-destruct. If you don't think it can happen, why don't you go look at what happened to Concorde? A tiny strip got sucked into the engine, damaged a fan, threw it off balance and down Concorde went.

Someone's talking shit here, but it's not me.

First off, i'm not sure how shooting a compressor blade would cause a turbine stage to 'self-destruct'... wrong end of the engine.

Secondly the metal strip the case of Concorde hit a tyre, not the engine. Your progression of events is entirely wrong.

More to the point, if you shot a weapon into the inlet you're going to be hitting the fan face, the blades of which are usually titanium. It's going to take something all together more meaty than a 22 to damage them sufficiently for them to fail.
 

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mpicco

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Spectre, the only way you'll bring down a plane with a .22 is if you shoot it at very high altitude and cause a MAJOR explosive decompression. There have been instances of planes losing doors, even the whole fucking roof and landing safely. Are you gonna hit a plane at 35 thousand feet moving at 450 knots with a .22?

The Concorde fell because as the plane was on it's take-off roll, it went over that metal strip. However the strip never got sucked into the engines. It punctured a tyre which then shredded and desintegrated in all directions with extreme force and velocity (and weight, thus great momentum), hit one of the wings and therefor the tanks creating a ripple inside the fuel tank, building up pressure and puncturing it, which then ignited with the engine or a loose sparking cable. It was no tiny piece of hot lead.

Not to mention many planes can fly without 1 engine and engines do not explode when they hit foreign objects.

You might know a lot about guns but I sure as hell know a lot about planes and trust me, you'd need a full Sopranos gang shooting 22s at a plane at takeoff to disable it if they're lucky.
 
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