The establishment media blackout on the ongoing ATF Gunrunner scandal is starting to crack. Why are guns that ATF allowed to be sold to known Mexican cartel operatives now killing US Border Patrol Agents? That’s the question picked up by CBS News last night in a report that quotes ATF agents saying that the agency allowed thousands of “weapons of choice”, including 50-caliber rifles, to knowingly “walk” into the hands of the drug cartels (video report here). Needless to say, ATF refused to comment on the report.
“Project Gunrunner” deployed new teams of agents to the southwest border. The idea: to stop the flow of weapons from the US to Mexico’s drug cartels. But in practice, sources tell CBS News, ATF’s actions had the opposite result: they allegedly facilitated the delivery of thousands of guns into criminal hands.
CBS News wanted to ask ATF officials about the case, but they wouldn’t agree to an interview. We were able to speak to six veteran ATF agents and executives involved. They don’t want to be quoted by name for fear of retaliation. These are their allegations.
In late 2009, ATF was alerted to suspicious buys at seven gun shops in the Phoenix area. Suspicious because the buyers paid cash, sometimes brought in paper bags. And they purchased classic “weapons of choice” used by Mexican drug traffickers – semi-automatic versions of military type rifles and pistols.
Sources tell CBS News several gun shops wanted to stop the questionable sales, but ATF encouraged them to continue.
Jaime Avila was one of the suspicious buyers. ATF put him in its suspect database in January of 2010. For the next year, ATF watched as Avila and other suspects bought huge quantities of weapons supposedly for “personal use.” They included 575 AK-47 type semi-automatic rifles.
ATF managers allegedly made a controversial decision: allow most of the weapons on the streets. The idea, they said, was to gather intelligence and see where the guns ended up. Insiders say it’s a dangerous tactic called letting the guns, “walk.”
One agent called the strategy “insane.” Another said: “We were fully aware the guns would probably be moved across the border to drug cartels where they could be used to kill.”
That’s exactly what happened to Border Agent Brian Terry on December 14th, who was gunned down on the Arizona border apparently with assault weapons the ATF had allowed to “walk”. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has been attempting to get to the bottom of the scandal with little success. Let’s hope Sen. Grassley can get to the bottom of this growing scandal.