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ATF’s #2 Says Agency Mistakenly Used Drug Strategy in Operation Fast and Furious

Tom Brandon/atf photo

 
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The number two person at ATF says a key mistake in the controversial Operation Fast and Furious was that “a narcotics based strategy was applied to a firearms trafficking investigation.”

Tom Brandon, who stepped in last October as ATF’s deputy director as part of an effort to clean house after the failed Operation Fast and Furious came to the public’s attention, explained that while drug agents sometimes let drugs and money walk to further an investigation, it’s not good to do the same for gun probes.

“When you use that in firearms, that’s not good,” he said during an interview  on the radio show “The Badge” with Howard Safir.

He said people in management at the Phoenix ATF office had good intentions when they launched the operation, but “their decisions were bad.”

Fast and Furious encouraged Arizona gun dealers to sell to straw purchasers, all with the hopes of tracing the guns to the Mexican cartels. ATF lost track of many of the guns, some of which surfaced at crime scenes on both sides of the border including one involving the murder in Arizona of U.S. Border agent Brian Terry.

“We made mistakes and we’re owning up to them,” he said of the operation.

Reader Responses

I am Mike Grimes, DEA retired, and a frequent reader of Tickle the Wire.

Tom Brandon at ATF is very misinformed about DEA’s policy on allowing drugs to “walk.” He makes it sound as though it is an every day occurrence. This is not the case. Yes, DEA will occasionally allow (the taxpayers’) money to walk. Money, as it exists, is not dangerous.

Yes, DEA will occasionally allow a very small drug sample to walk for testing purposes, not for use or distribution. DEA allowing a drug sample to walk is a rare occurrence because of the liability potential.

Mr. Brandon needs to find another avenue to deflect ATF’s foolish operational standard.

*********

Comment from BobbyT7 | [e]

Time March 6, 2012 at 5:37 pm

Mike Grimes tells it like it is. I was assigned to a DEA group for several years and participated in dozens of undercover buys. I doubt the group let even a total of an ounce walk in those years.

I retired from the former USINS and was a border patrol agent for ten years, prior to my USINS special agent experience.

The part I don’t understand is how Fast & Furious got through the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) process??? This is a major DOJ program in the criminal division. It requires review and approval by all of the member agencies of OCDETF, which includes ATF, DEA, FBI, ICE, IRS/CID and the U.S. Marshall Service. How could anyone sign off on such an operational proposal, much less experienced agents of all of these federal agencies, plus numerous federal prosecutors that review ALL proposals.

Did the operational plan come from the top (very high political level) down, so it didn’t matter what was written in the proposal??? Was there ever a proposal written???

ICE had an agent assigned directly to the ATF group that conducted Fast & Furious, what was he reporting through his chain of command???

Who decided to NOT tell the Mexicans??? Not some civil servant, I can certainly assure you.

Who decided not to tell the U.S. Department of State, our embassy etc…???


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Comment from BobbyT7
Time March 6, 2012 at 5:37 pm

Mike Grimes tells it like it is. I was assigned to a DEA group for several years and participated in dozens of undercover buys. I doubt the group let even a total of an ounce walk in those years.

I retired from the former USINS and was a border patrol agent for ten years, prior to my USINS special agent experience.

The part I don’t understand is how Fast & Furious got through the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) process??? This is a major DOJ program in the criminal division. It requires review and approval by all of the member agencies of OCDETF, which includes ATF, DEA, FBI, ICE, IRS/CID and the U.S. Marshall Service. How could anyone sign off on such an operational proposal, much less experienced agents of all of these federal agencies, plus numerous federal prosecutors that review ALL proposals.

Did the operational plan come from the top (very high political level) down, so it didn’t matter what was written in the proposal??? Was there ever a proposal written???

ICE had an agent assigned directly to the ATF group that conducted Fast & Furious, what was he reporting through his chain of command???

Who decided to NOT tell the Mexicans??? Not some civil servant, I can certainly assure you.

Who decided not to tell the U.S. Department of State, our embassy etc…???

Comment from herculesone
Time March 7, 2012 at 3:26 pm

“…In reference to your article….. from sensitives source working with the US Army on the Mexican border in the NM area. This is about to break out in DC : This is extremely sensitive at this time, but is about to be leaked by a committee member in DC. We thought we would give you a heads up, because of the article you printed. Also, releasing this first will perhaps protect us to some degree. I do not deal with MSM… to political and too many cover ups for special interest.

COPY sensitive source

Gun running to MX:

LHM copy

“… The US Border Patrol San Teresa NM and El Paso Texas both sent LHM to all proper agencies asking for clarification on weapons being allowed to walk across Columbus New Mexico in Feb 2010 approximately one year before the Columbus New Mexico Police department AND THE COLUMBUS CITY COUNCIL WERE BUSTED FOR GUN RUNNING. Why has this been kept from the investigative committees or the documentation been kept from the Senate of the United States?

Palomas Mexico In 2010 the Mayor of Palomas Mexico was gun down, murdered. Reports were sent via US Border Patrol concerning information they had received from an informant in the Mexican Army, Palomas- about guns being allowed to cross over the US border into Mexico and all tracking devices were removed by the Mexican police at the border crossing, Palomas..( ref LHM to DoJ, State, and Homeland Security, memos dispatched concerning this matter in late 2009 or early 2010) These memo have not as yet been turned over to the investigative committees by HLS, DOJ, ATF, or The State Department. These agencies have all received the same memos concerning these events. MSM seems to refuse to investigate or ask for copies of these documents. Why? …”.
This is for your background…. it will fit into your past article concerning time line F&F…. good article Morgan. TF7 Ft Bliss, TX

Comment from eagle54
Time March 19, 2012 at 7:55 am

I’ll tell you what, What this all comes down to is that the guy in the White house gov subsidized housing and Eric the dick Holder should be arrested for what they did. They should impeach the whole lot of them. This country is getting really Chicken S_ _ _ when they can’t even police our own. That’s all I have to say about it, except I want to be the trigger man when they realize the need to put these low life’s to death for treason!

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