Journalism in the Public Interest

Whistleblower Alleges that U.S. Gun Agency Purposely Allowed Weapons to be Smuggled to Mexico

In an effort to catch Mexican drug lords, the federal agency responsible for regulating the gun industry and cracking down on gun crime allowed thousands of weapons to pass into Mexico and fall into the hands of criminals, according to a report by CBS News and other outlets this week. 

A senior agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives—better known as the ATF—told CBS and the Center for Public Integrity that ATF supervisors instructed agents to not intercept weapons made in suspicious sales, but to monitor them to see where the weapons ended up. CBS reported that a number of unnamed agents have made similar allegations.

ATF's acting director has said that the agency will convene a panel to review its strategies for stopping the flow of firearms, but he did not comment to CBS on specifics about the allegations. ATF officials did acknowledge to CPI that there has been a larger shift in the organization’s strategy to go after the drug rings seeking the weapons instead of pursuing the low-level buyers involved in smuggling them:

Mark Chait, ATF’s assistant director in charge of field operations, told the Center he personally decided to change the strategy in September 2010 after years of futile efforts to interdict guns from small-time straw buyers with little hope of dismantling major drug trafficking organizations in Mexico.

The ATF whistleblower, John Dodson, told CBS that the strategy to monitor weapons purchased by suspected smugglers instead of seizing them was approved all the way up to the Justice Department and was kept secret from the government of Mexico. The Justice Department—of which ATF is a division—has denied the allegations. In a letter to Sen. Chuck Grassley, it stated that ATF “makes every effort” to prevent arms smuggling into Mexico and has never sanctioned or “knowingly allowed” sales to straw purchasers who then smuggled the guns across the border.

Recent incidents of violence against U.S. Border Patrol agents suggest that intentionally or otherwise, U.S. guns are still falling into the wrong hands. Last month, two U.S. Border Patrol agents were shot in Mexico with an AK-47 smuggled from Texas. One of those agents died. In December, another Border Patrol agent was killed near the Mexico border. Two guns were found at the scene of the killing, both purchased by a suspected gun smuggler who ATF had reportedly been monitoring but had taken no action against. According to the Los Angeles Times and CPI, hundreds of these weapons have still not been recovered.

The ATF has historically had fairly limited powers when it comes to cracking down on the trade of illicit guns, even domestically. As we’ve noted, it faces strong opposition by the pro-gun lobby, which has fought measures that would expose gun dealers or strengthen the agency’s reach. From our previous story:

[The agency] has gone without a permanent director for four years. The Obama administration, while stating its commitment to doing “all that we can” to stop the flow of U.S. weapons to Mexican drug cartels, waited more than a year and half to even nominate a director—and when a nominee was named, the National Rifle Association was quick to opposethe nomination.

The agency is still without a director.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon last month criticized the efforts of U.S. agencies working to combat the cartels, calling them “notoriously insufficient.” Calderon met with President Obama yesterday, who said that the U.S. has to do its part and “take responsibility” in fighting the drug wars.

The Justice Department’s inspector general has been asked to investigate the recent allegations about the ATF’s strategy. ATF’s public affairs officer sent an internal memo on Thursday asking the agency’s press officers to “proactively push positive stories” to counter the recent “negative coverage,” CBS reported.

More govt. doublespeak.  How exactly is ATF or Justice “monitoring” guns bought in suspicious deals?  Monitoring by definition implies a certain level of control or awareness as to the whereabouts or condition of that which is being observed.  Picking up a gun from the ground AFTER it has been used to murder a US Border agent or other individual and linking the serial number to that on a list, is not exactly what any sane person would consider “monitoring’.

The incompetence at even the highest level of government is dazzling.

This is the same government who sought to dimiss Mexico culpability of the murdered ICE agent by “suggesting” mistaken identity was at fault—What BS—- all to spare the MEx Pres visit from embarrassment. This was an inside job and who did it knew they were defenseless and wanted to send a message back to ICE investigators—BACK OFF…  Whats sad is it looks as though it was successful—- think of the message that sends

The American control, complains it is losing the war to Aljazeera and; ie the war of propaganda? Are the American PUBLIC aware of what is being done in thier name? The common garden American is now becoming a universal pariah, is s/he aware of their disolving international image/standing. Do they know what these same controls are aiming to do to the Wikileaks founders who were not even involved in the deliberate delivery of lethal weapons to a neighbouring country that appealed to their neighbours for “help” and had America and their own people sacrifice???? Are you surprisd that Libya want nothing to do with “help” from that quarter????No one in control ever seems to be responsible, no matter what the crime.?? Perhaps if the national media were INSTRUCTED ot apprise the American puplic of the service done by wlikileaks and the exposure of the Mexican tragedy, they might shake off thier torpidity.

I suggest life imitate art, which imitates life. In the movie Schindler’s List the weapons manufactured by the Jewish workers were purpously made to malfuction,  They blended into the over-all weapons supply so the source escaped indentifiication.
This is the age of technology, where I can find my dog with satelite tracking.  Wouldn’t it make more sense if they fed a few duds into the smugglng operation? Maybe planted a chip under a grip?
I not real fond of guns, I think they are best used for defending youself from wild animals on a back country hike. 
The minds that run the ATF might consider thinking things through, somewhere quiet.


No, frankly. The people I know are mostly ignorant of how we are percieved.  Yesterday I had to explain it to someone,

What’s worse: In 1984, my sister traveled globaly, She was grateful to have a male companion in India. In Turkey they were both afraid, and choose not to venture furture into the middle east. When she returned she made a point of telling me “’s really bad, they HATE US there”.

In a conversation with a 16 yr old boy from Lebennon in 2001 I was told “from a very young age we are taught to hate Americans because of what they did in the early [19] 70’s. We are told how they did things like kill babies. They invaded our homes and killed babies when they didn’t have to.” And “We are told this all the time, how the Christians are Evil.’

If I can come across imformation like that walking my dog, or picking up my sister at the airport, I am sure that Middle Eastern idealology was pain-stakingly kept from the American public.

...after a year and a half a Directer is nominated, BUT THE NRA WAS QUICK TO OPPOSE…  ARE THEY JOKING!!!!???

That is who is runnig this circus.  I forgot for a second that the lobby system had replaced “A government run by and for the people”.
What is even sadder is that it is written without qualifications. It is accepted as understood, like wipe…then flush and wash your hands.

Sorry the analogy was to tempting.

arnold klein md

March 5, 2011, 12:59 p.m.

The true Whistleblowers are seldom noted or rewarded in our society…look at the following from December 22, 2010

Sally Quillian Yates
Richard B. Russell Federal Building
75 Spring Street, S.W. Suite 600
Atlanta, GA 30303-33

Dear Ms. Yates:

I reviewed the Justice Department settlement with Allergan and there are factors that are alarming.  Before he met with me Randy Chardash of the US Justice Department was not aware of the promotional courses given by Allergan for the spasticity associated with Botox.  As I indicated to him these courses provided a dangerous manner in which to treat Cerebral Palsy.  Additionally I provided him as well as the FBI and INS data concerning unlicensed Canadian physicians Alastair and Jean Carruthers who worked for virtually every company with injectables including Allergan and Medicis. Working these companies they practiced throughout the USA and did not have green cards. These doctors provded false and dangerous data regarding Botox dilution that was published in the medical literature and still used today.  I met with the FBI three times and INS two times.  I was promised inclusion in the whistleblower suite if filed.  Furthermore when I revealed the forged data on Botox dilution, David Pyott CEO of Allergan fired me as a consultant took my teaching grant, and prevented me from teaching additional CME courses and courses at medical meetings. A famous patient of mine became the spokesperson for Allergan and I was not allowed to inject him.Additionally, when I was sued over the use of Botox Allergan refused to speak with me or support me during the trial. They held a mock trial at Allergan which I lost . Fortunately I was responsible for winning the real trial according to Judge Victor Chavez. The trial personally cost me well over $500,00.00 which Allergan never reimpured me.Nevertheless, when I realized they were forging data I was the physician responsible for getting the Black-box warning on Botox.

2 weeks after I met with Chardash the computers from Allergan were confiscated. In the recent whitleblower Justice Department’s global settlement against Allergan they include both Nevada and California data none of the other individuals in the settlement could provide.Quickly after the settlement the FDA approved Botox for severe migraine . Are you aware the 6th investigator in one of the two trials holds the patent on this application.  Furthermore one of the investigators uses a dose of only 80 units leaving him 70 units to freely use cosmetically. The pivatol studies recommend doses of 155-195 units which when injected by neurologist’s unfamiliar with injection techniques may result in severe adverse reactions.

Arnold William Klein, MD
Professor of Medicine and Dermatology
The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

The above comments are correct but for the wrong reasons.

Whenever a government agency, the military (also a government agency) , police forces,  etc. etc, etc, are told to look away as they were for 8 years, it will take 20 years to get them back in line.

Actually, its not only in government, its everywhere. Where there all specific rules and the boss tells the worker not to apply the rules for any number of reasons, the rules are worthless and the workers that were present when this took place, are also now worthless because they know the rules don’t matter.

The financial crash of 2008 was caused by this same exact problem.
Madoo got away with what he did for the same reason, the rule makers told the rule keeps to “let this one slide”

It will take an entire generation to repair the damage that Bush/Cheney did to this country.

This is old information and has been printed in a book called, Causes of Death, by Pell(ton). He also wrote, The World’s Most Dangerous Places.  There is no whistle blower info here , no money to collect. . I have the Causes of Death book and gave a friend, the other book.

John:  I hate to pop your bubble, but Libya has been asking the U.S. for a no-fly zone for weeks now…..they DO want us to help them.  Do you read a newspaper??

So, the NRA is saying that they are in favor of guns being smuggled to Mwexico that eventually end up in the hands of known criminals?  Why are Congressmen/women so afraid of the NRA?  They speak to a very small constituency of the American people, their executive director thinks he is god.  Go away!

allison holand

July 6, 2011, 9:31 a.m.

and the whistle blower ?  the no-longer-supreme court has made it more difficult for the truly honest and concerned to stand up and say something. i wonder how his days are going. there is no leader in the atf because republicans wont let a vote occur. they want to dismantle from above. from the middle and below. and they can do this with the help of the five justices who only love what the industrialists can do for them. i know they would decide in favor of gun makers over us. the citizens and families of America were there ever to be any vote on akms and whatever else. i think they would let grenades be sold on the street legally if they were asked in court to decide such a thing. it is time for the unjust thomas to be indicted for taking bribes in the form of gifts which if you add an r for republican becomes a more representative word for gift…which is grift.

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