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Tag: ATF

ATF Concludes Deadly Fire at Texas Fertilizer Facility Was Intentionally Set

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A massive explosion at a fertilizer facility in Texas that killed more than three dozen people and injured hundreds was intentionally set, the ATF said Wednesday.

The announcement comes more than three years after the explosion.

The ATF said it has ruled out “all reasonable, accidental and natural causes,” the Washington Post reports. 

The agency has not made any arrests yet and is offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person or people responsible.

The explosion also leveled nearby homes.

Other Stories of Interest

Congressman Pushes Bill to Rename ATF Headquarters After Slain Agent Ariel Rios

Ariel Rios

Ariel Rios

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Congressman André Carson from Indiana hopes history repeats itself.

The Congressman has introduced a bill to name ATF headquarters at 99 New York Avenue NE in Washington as the Ariel Rios Federal Building.

ATF agent Rios, 28, was murdered by drug traffickers in Miami in 1982 while assigned to then Vice President George Bush’s South Florida Drug Task Force. He was the first ATF agent killed by hostile action.

It’s not such an unusual request considering the old ATF headquarters at 1200 Pennsylvania Ave NW was named after Rios in 1985.

In 2007, ATF moved into a more secure headquarters on New York Avenue, but Congress never named the new building after Rios.

“Naming the ATF headquarters after Ariel Rios is an important symbolic reminder of risks faced by ATF’s front line agents and their ongoing service to our country,” said Rep. Carson in a letter to colleagues asking them to co-sponsor the bill. “As a former law enforcement officer, I believe this important recognition  of Ariel Rios will serve as a tribute to every frontline law enforcement officer past, present, and future.”

According to ATF, Rios and another agent, Alex D’Atri,  made arrangements to meet with two suspects at the Hurricane Motel in Miami to make an undercover buy of large quantities of cocaine and machineguns. One of the suspects suddenly became suspicious, drew his weapon and made threats.

Rios struggled with him and was shot. He died shortly after in the hospital. The other agent, D’Atri, was shot and wounded but survived.   

Read Rep. André Carson’s full letter to Congressional colleagues.

Dear Colleague:

I am writing to ask you to cosponsor the “Ariel Rios Federal Building Act”
which  will name the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
(ATF) headquarters in honor of its first special agent killed by hostile
action. This bill will designate the federal building at 99 New York Avenue,
NE Washington D.C. as the Ariel Rios Federal Building. Ariel Rios was a
young ATF special agent murdered by drug traffickers in 1982 while assigned
to then Vice President George Bush’s South Florida Drug Task Force.

In 1985, Congress designated the ATF headquarters building at 1200
Pennsylvania Avenue as the Ariel Rios Memorial Federal Building.  The
designation honored both the personal sacrifice of Ariel Rios and served as
an enduring reminder of the dangers that front line law enforcement officers
willingly confront to keep the rest of us safe.  For nearly 30 years, the
original ATF headquarters building bore the name of Ariel Rios.

Read more »

Congressman Urges Passage of ATF Enforcement Act to End Gun Hypocrisy

gunsBy Rep. Donald S. Beyer Jr.
for Washington Post

Those who oppose gun safety legislation often contend that the president and Congress should enforce existing gun laws before considering any new ones. National Rifle Association President Wayne LaPierre has said that under current federal law, President Obama “could take every felon with a gun, drug dealer with a gun, and criminal gang banger with a gun off the streets tomorrow and lock ’em up for five years or more”; House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), who holds great power over whether gun legislation sees the light of day, has said that “the federal government is not doing the job they should be doing in enforcing our current gun laws.”

We should call their bluff. The truth is that Congress routinely blocks the power of the federal agency responsible for overseeing and investigating firearms sales: the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The ATF is unable to carry out its mission because of the multiple obstacles placed in its path. For example, a 2004 budget amendment blocked the agency from providing data on the tracing of guns used in crimes for any state license revocation action or civil lawsuit. Gun-trace data are critically important for sourcing illegally trafficked firearms and identifying corrupt gun dealers. Another amendment that year banned any requirement that gun dealers keep a physical inventory of their wares. In 2012, Congress said that the ATF couldn’t deny applications to import any shotgun simply because it lacked a sporting purpose. The list goes on.

So what if we didn’t pass new gun safety laws, but instead simply returned to the ATF the authority and autonomy to fully perform its duties? What if this key agency were enabled “to protect communities from violent criminals . . . the illegal use and trafficking of firearms . . . [and] acts of terrorism,” as its mission statement reads, without interference?

Tuesday I will introduce the ATF Enforcement Act, which would restore the agency’s ability to enforce existing gun laws by removing legislative limitations on its operations, enforcement and day-to-day functions. My bill would also allow the person picked to be ATF director to bypass the Senate confirmation process by moving the appointment power to the attorney general. For years, congressional allies of the gun lobby have blocked nominees by both Democratic and Republican presidents. Only one nominee has been confirmed since the position was made subject to Senate approval in 2006.

Senator Asks ATF to Investigate Gun That Resembles a Smartphone

Gun designed to look like a smartphone.

Gun designed to look like a smartphone.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A new gun designed to resemble a smartphone may soon be investigating by the ATF.

Sen. Chuch Schumer, D-N.Y., requested the investigation, saying the small pocket pistol is designed to evade authorities.

“What’s next, a gun made to look like a chocolate bar?” Schumer said at a press conference on Monday, the Guardian reports. “Enough is enough.”

The two-shot .38-caliber derringer has a foldout handle and is marketed by the company, Ideal Conceal.

“Smartphones are EVERYWHERE, so your new pistol will easily blend in with today’s environment,” the manufacturer’s site reads. “In its locked position it will be virtually undetectable because it hides in plain sight.” The weapon is selling for $395, substantially less than the current generation of flagship mobile devices, and is expected to be available in mid-2016.

The ATF declined to comment on the issue.

Other Stories of Interest

Justice Department: Rifle Recovered from ‘El Chapo’ Hideout Tied to Fast & Furious

Joaquin_Guzman-Loera

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The failed gun-walking operation known as Fast and Furious has been linked to a .50-caliber rifle found at the hideout of drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

The Justice Department shared the information in a letter to Congress, the Associated Press reports. 

The gun was among 19 firearms that Mexican authorities found at the hideout.

The botched sting operation allowed gun-runners to purchase weapons so that authorities could track them to drug smuggling rings.

The Justice Department said the gun was purchased in July 2010.

Nearly 900 firearms bought during the operation have been recovered.

“ATF and the department deeply regret that firearms associated with Operation Fast and Furious have been used by criminals in the commission of violent crimes, particularly crimes resulting in the deaths of civilians and law enforcement officials,” Assistant Attorney General Peter Kadzik, head of the Justice Department’s legislative affairs office, wrote in a March 15 letter.

Kalamazoo Man Accused of Killing 6 People During Shooting Spree Had Cache of Guns

Jason Dalton

Jason Dalton

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Kalamazoo, Mich., Uber driver accused of shooting dead six people and critically injuring two others in a shooting spree Saturday bought the firearm used in the attack in the middle of last year, the ATF said.

Investigators also found 11 long guns and four handguns at his Cooper Township home, WoodTV.com reports. 

The ATF’s Donald Dawkins said 45-year-old Jason Dalton used a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun in the shootings.

But, investigators said, Dalton was not licensed to carry a concealed pistol.

Dalton regularly visited a gun shop in nearby Plainwell and purchased a coat designed to conceal the handgun hours before the shooting spree.

Other Stories of Interest

ATF Recovers Two Dozen Homemade Hand Grenades in Alabama Factory

atf badgeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The ATF recovered 24 homemade hand grenades from a factory in a residential neighborhood near Birmingham, Ala.

AL.com reports that the grenades pose a grave danger, not only because grenades are destructive, but because they were made with faulty fuses and live explosives.

“We’re not sure exactly how many are out there yet,” said David Hyche, ATF’s assistant special agent in charge in Alabama. “We know we recovered 24 that were in the process of being made. We know that hand grenades had been sold in the City of Birmingham to an illegal alien drug trafficker. So if they’ll be sold to that guy, they’ll be sold to anybody.”

Hyche said the grenades were seriously flawed.

“Homemade fuses most likely, at best, will have no delay, and, at worst, will go off when you don’t want them to,” he said. “The kill radius on a hand grenade is about 10 meters, or 30 feet.”

Report: ATF improves after Fast and Furious, But Other Federal Agencies Did Not

atf-gunsBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Some federal agencies have not taken adequate steps to prevent another botched gun-smuggling investigation like the one known as “Operation Fast and Furious,” according to a report from the Department of Justice’s inspector general.

The New York Times reports  ATF has made “significant progress” to address problems related to the operation.

But that’s not the case for some other federal law enforcement agencies. The FBI and DEA, for example, have failed to adequately minimize risks connected with gun investigations, the report stated.

Under the botched ATF investigation that was exposed five years ago, federal law enforcement tried to build a criminal case against Mexican drug cartels by allowing American gun traffickers with links to the cartels to smuggle the firearms across the southern border.

The inspection general report praised the Justice Department for instituting recommended changes, such as better training and more oversight for ATF.

Other federal agencies have “not taken sufficient steps to institute policies to avoid repetition of the errors we identified in our report,” the inspector general said.

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