ecurity Information Publicly Disseminated

Thursday, July 21, 2011

ATF Gets Spanked From OIG

U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General Evaluation and Inspections Division
Review of ATF’s Project Gunrunner November 2010

The latest office of Inspector Generals report characterizing ATF’s weapons operations as incompetent and ineffective. What prompted The IG’s report that heavily criticizes the ATF’s performance and is filled with statements such as

“Despite the increased ATF activity associated with Project Gunrunner, we found that significant weaknesses in ATF’s implementation of Project Gunrunner undermine its effectiveness.”
and this.
“We also determined that intelligence personnel in ATF’s Southwest border field divisions do not routinely share firearms trafficking intelligence with each other.”

Was there a leak in ATF early on that generated this scathing portrayal of ineptitude?

The ATF field supervisors clearly were focused on the quantity of cases rather than the quality. The recent Fox News report about an ATF operation William La Jeunesse stated “That after thousands of man hours and millions of dollars spent, only one of the 20 suspects remains behind bars. Most were released within 24 hours of their arrest. In the end, all prosecutors got was one middle man and a handful of straw buyers.” Mr La Jeunesse tracked the “straw buyers” to there homes not jail cells.

The strategy that ATF has adopted in going after the small fries instead of the meat and potatoes of the cross border smuggler kingpins is not compatible with Homeland Security’s vision. The justification for this is that ATF is not willing to commit time and resources to larger conspiracy cases that involve logistics such as wiretaps and surveillance.  They can boost there arrest statistics by shuffling “straw buyer” cases through at a higher rate, thus increasing there overall success rate. ATF field supervisors claim that money is at the root of the problem and repeated attempts for increased funding have been rebuffed by DOJ or the White House. This was not washing with the IG investigators as they stated that.

“ATF increased the number of gun dealer compliance inspections along the Southwest Border by 133 percent and increased the number of compliance inspection hours worked by 102 percent.Gunrunner Impact Team initiative that increased the number of gun dealer compliance inspections conducted and cases initiated within the Houston Field Division area. Under this initiative, ATF deployed 100 agents, investigators, and support staff to the Houston Field Division for 120 days. ATF reported that the team conducted over 1,000 inspections of gun dealers and generated investigative leads leading to the seizure of over 400 firearms.”

(It seems as though ATF has the time and money to harass gunsmiths and sporting goods store owners but not the Los Zetas drug cartel. Who is the ATF considering the enemies hear? Quiet obvious it’s you and me: end comment)

The report states that the same ATF agents in the Southwest border field division who reported that they felt discouraged from pursuing complex conspiracy cases told investigators that field supervisors generally discouraged OCDETF (Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force) cases because “the supervisors favored faster investigations.” For example, an agent that was interviewed from a firearms trafficking enforcement group described “taking a lot of heat” for having taken a case to the OCDETF Program. The agent said that “ATF field management had previously turned down a number of cases that might have been proposed for OCDETF consideration.” The agent said that not using the OCDETF Program has resulted in agents not pursuing the “higher people in the food chain” of the trafficking rings.

Reading between the lines of the previous paragraph that was taken from the IG report. One can conclude that the agent that was being interviewed was saying that he was instructed to let the guns walk. It is hard to believe that the investigators did not follow up more with the field agents. If they did and found that in FACT guns were walking to Mexico at the instruction of supervisors then the office of the Inspector General is implicated in a criminal conspiracy as well as the Attorney Generals office.

In 2009, ATF reported to Congress that about 90 percent of the guns recovered in Mexico that ATF has traced were initially sold in the United States. The Southwest border states – Texas, California, Arizona, and to a lesser extent, New Mexico – are primary sources of guns used by Mexican drug cartels.

in response to a draft of this report ATF told the OIG that the 90-percent figure cited to Congress could be misleading because it applied only to the small portion of Mexican crime guns that are traced. ATF could not provide updated information on the percentage of traced Mexican crime guns that were sourced to (that is, found to be manufactured in or imported through) the United States.

How do you trust what a government agency is saying in response to an investigation when revelations like this come out. Clearly ATF was deliberately deceiving congress.

In July 2009 Stratfor decided to vet this statement and there results was.

the 90 percent number was derived from a June 2009 U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report to Congress on U.S. efforts to combat arms trafficking to Mexico. According to the GAO report, some 30,000 firearms were seized from criminals by Mexican authorities in 2008. Of these 30,000 firearms, information pertaining to 7,200 of them (24 percent) was submitted to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for tracing. Of these 7,200 guns, only about 4,000 could be traced by the ATF, and of these 4,000, some 3,480 (87 percent) were shown to have come from the United States.
This means that the 87 percent figure relates to the number of weapons submitted by the Mexican government to the ATF that could be successfully traced and not from the total number of weapons seized by Mexican authorities or even from the total number of weapons submitted to the ATF for tracing. In fact, the 3,480 guns positively traced to the United States equals less than 12 percent of the total arms seized in Mexico in 2008 and less than 48 percent of all those submitted by the Mexican government to the ATF for tracing. This means that almost 90 percent of the guns seized in Mexico in 2008 were not traced back to the United States.

There where 15 recommendations that the IG specified in the report and number 8 was.

Focus on developing more complex conspiracy cases against higher level gun traffickers and gun trafficking conspirators.

Response by Kennith Melson ATF Acting Director

ATF concurs. ATF has and will continue to develop complex conspiracy cases. ATF will reinforce previously issued guidance including the National Firearms Trafficking Enforcement· Strategy and Implementation Plan and "Project Gunrunner -A Cartel Focused Strategy." ATF is working with the Department of Justice, Criminal Division and United States Attorney's Offices to bring prosecutors and agents from both sides of the border together to work on enhancing this effort.
Is this an admission of the ATF TOP SECRET program “Fast and Furious”

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