Time to rein in ATF


Another firearm supplied to Mexican drug cartels by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has been linked to a mass killing.

A semi-auto AK-47 was found by investigators following a December 18 gunfight in Puerto Peñasco, a popular tourist destination. Five suspected gunmen from the Sinaloa Cartel were killed, according to news accounts. atf patch

The AK used in the shootout, which involved Mexican police and military, was one of approximately 2,000 guns that the ATF allowed to walk across the border as part of their bungled “Fast and Furious” investigation, which was run out of the agency’s Phoenix field office.

These “Fast and Furious” weapons have been found at crime scenes in the U.S. and Mexico. One of the weapons was involved in the killing of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in 2010. Approximately 600 have been recovered, leaving 1,400 still in the hands of cartel gunmen.

More troubling than the number of firearms was the latest response from the agency.

In a written statement emailed to the media after the most-recent killings, ATF officials said: “ATF has accepted responsibility for the mistakes made in the Fast and Furious investigation and at the attorney general’s direction we have taken appropriate and decisive action to ensure that these errors will not be repeated. And we acknowledge that, regrettably, firearms related to the Fast and Furious investigation will likely continue to be recovered at future crime scenes.”


In my opinion, this tacit acceptance of future violence – aided and abetted by ATF officials – is pretty far from an acceptable response.

If a licensed gun dealer, an FFL holder, had shipped 2,000 firearms to the drug cartels, he’d be buried under a federal prison.

It’s hard to imagine other federal agencies, such as the FBI, taking such a ho-hum, wait-and-see approach to possible violence that their agents may have helped facilitate.

Why should ATF get a pass? Are they still The Untouchables?

I’ve known several ATF agents over the years. In all honesty, most have been hard working agents who simply wanted to arrest bad guys. However, to a man they’ve all said that they work in spite of their superiors in D.C., rather than with the bureau’s administration.

The ATF has had some legendary lawmen with brass balls – the kind needed to operate undercover while infiltrating an outlaw motorcycle gang. Its administration, however, has never operated at the same high standards – often placing more emphasis on harassing FFL holders over bookkeeping errors, and punishing whistleblowers, than on arresting violent offenders.

A fix is long overdue.

It’s time to dismantle the agency – removing the trouble-plagued administrators – while retaining the expertise of its agents, bomb techs, arson investigators and other well-trained specialists by transferring them en masse to other agencies, such as the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service and the DEA.

As to the ATF’s tobacco and alcohol enforcement responsibilities, these duties should have been relegated to the states long ago.

Hard estimates of the exact numbers and the exact types of firearms that walked south are difficult to acquire. Suffice it to say the amount of weapons could arm several battalions of cartel gunmen.

It’s time the ATF is held to the same level of accountability it demands from those within its purview.


About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1777 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.


  1. Pingback: Time to rein in ATF | The Gun Feed

  2. CNN exclusive: FBI misconduct reveals sex, lies and videotape

    By Scott Zamost and Kyra Phillips, CNN Special Investigations Unit
    January 27, 2011

    Washington (CNN) — An FBI employee shared confidential information with his girlfriend, who was a news reporter, then later threatened to release a sex tape the two had made.

    A supervisor watched pornographic videos in his office during work hours while “satisfying himself.”

    And an employee in a “leadership position” misused a government database to check on two friends who were exotic dancers and allowed them into an FBI office after hours.

    These are among confidential summaries of FBI disciplinary reports obtained by CNN, which describe misconduct by agency supervisors, agents and other employees over the last three years

    FBI agents caught sexting and dating drug dealers
    Dating drug dealers, harassing ex-boyfriends with naked pictures, and pointing guns at pet dogs: these were just a few of the offences committed recently by serving FBI agents, according to internal documents.
    The US provided officers from the Egyptian secret police with training at the FBI, despite allegations that they routinely tortured detainees and suppressed political opposition.

    Disciplinary files from the Bureau’s Office of Professional Responsibility record an extraordinary range of transgressions that reveal the chaotic personal lives of some of America’s top law enforcers.

    One male agent was sacked after police were called to his mistress’s house following reports of domestic incident. When officers arrived they found the agent “drunk and uncooperative” and eventually had to physically subdue him and wrestle away his loaded gun.

    A woman e-mailed a “nude photograph of herself to her ex-boyfriend’s wife” and then continued to harass the couple despite two warnings from senior officials. The Bureau concluded she was suffering from depression related to the break-up and allowed her to return to work after 10 days.

  3. Absolutely. It is disgusting how our tax dollars are being spent by the ATF to create false flags to push for gun control, entrapping mentally retarded folks, etc.

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  5. It is time that all involved in the illicit gun walking were brought to task. Crminal prosecution needs to start at the top! The misdeeds of our US Attorney General must not be ignored and he must be brought to task. Politicians who are guilty of misdeeds need to see the inside of a jail!

  6. I can’t believe some smart lawyer in Mexico hasn’t filed lawsuits against the obama administration and the DOJ and holder for being accessories to murder and other criminal activities as a result of Fasy and Furious.

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