Whistleblower Alleges That an ATF Investigator Smuggled Guns to Mexico

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

The ATF under Director Steve Dettelbach has been at the forefront of assaulting the Second Amendment. Even after President Biden pushed through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) with the cooperation of submissive Senate Republicans, he has used the administrative powers of the ATF to further infringe on our rights.


Modeling their regulatory attacks on Trump’s bump stock ban, Biden and Dettelbach have unilaterally reclassified unfinished frames/receivers as firearms, reclassified pistol braces as NFA items, reclassified forced reset triggers, and are now changing who must register as a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL). The ATF has also been harassing ordinary FFLs and revoking their licenses permanently using a “zero tolerance” policy.

The ATF has clearly been weaponized against the American people. How good are they themselves though? Reuters reported (archived links) the following:

Former US firearms investigator illegally trafficked guns to Mexico, government document alleges
By Sarah Kinosian and Laura Gottesdiener

MONTERREY, Oct 20 (Reuters) – Jose Luis Meneses, a Mexican national who worked as an investigator for ATF at the U.S. Consulate in Tijuana, admitted to buying firearm parts online and at a California gun store and trafficking them into Mexico for profit back in 2017, according to the letter and an ATF memo from the time obtained by Reuters. […]

The Grassley letter dated Oct. 18, which cites the 2017 ATF memo and information described as “whistleblower disclosures,” accused the agency of not conducting a full investigation into the matter.

“If these protected disclosures are true and accurate, they illustrate a failure by the ATF to hold its employees accountable for criminal misconduct.”


How did the ATF learn about this suspicious activity? It was from the voluntary cooperation of a gun industry member, the sort that the ATF has been harassing:

The internal investigation into Meneses began when a firearm parts vendor called the U.S. Consulate in Tijuana to report suspicious purchases, according to Grassley’s letter.

The tip led U.S. officials to interrogate Meneses, who admitted to buying firearm parts in the U.S., smuggling them into Mexico and handing them off to his brother, a Mexican police officer, and a former Mexican soldier, according to the ATF memo.

ATF agents from the San Diego office then searched the post office box that Meneses said he used for the purchases, where they found assault-style rifle parts and high-capacity magazines, the memo said.

Meneses used a vehicle with diplomatic plates to avoid being searched at the border while smuggling the firearms, according to the letter. In total, Meneses said he bought enough parts to assemble eight AR-15 rifles, the memo said.

This was a serious case involving a neighboring country with whom good diplomatic relations are very important:

“The embassy found out about suspicious activity, revoked compound access within a day, did an investigation, and fired him within a month. It’s terrible that it happened, but this is exactly how it’s supposed to work,” the official said.

The U.S. government “has no tolerance for that sort of behavior,” he added. […]

In Grassley’s letter, he accused the agency of treating the allegations of gun smuggling like an “administrative matter” and questioned whether ATF investigated possible links between Meneses or his associates and Mexican cartels.

The ATF memo is a detailed summary of Meneses’ case prepared by a top ATF official in Mexico at the time, and addressed to the then-head of Mexico’s specialized unit to investigate cases of terrorism and arms trafficking.

But it’s unclear whether the memo was ever sent.

On May 9, 2017, the ATF official sent an email to a top State Department official in Mexico saying that “ATF will not make any notifications to GOM (the government of Mexico).”


So, the ATF caught one of its employees breaking the law, concluded the investigation, and didn’t bother notifying their Mexican counterparts?

ATF’s activities in Mexico have sparked controversy in the past. From 2009 to 2011, a once-secret ATF scheme, known as “Fast and Furious,” set out to thwart U.S.-Mexico gun smuggling by allowing people to illegally buy arms in the United States and take them to Mexico so that the weapons could be tracked and lead law enforcement officials to drug cartel leaders.

But some of the weapons were later blamed for murders in Mexico and set off bitter cross-border recriminations over the gun-running scandal, which continues to reverberate in Mexico’s politics over a decade later.

Reuters noted that the “Fast and Furious” weapons were blamed for murders in Mexico, but they didn’t say anything about Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, who was killed in an attack involving one of those weapons.

What’s grating about the ATF is they’ve been using the “zero tolerance” policy to permanently shut down FFLs in their Jihad against gun ownership. If the same “zero tolerance” policy was applied to them, they would have been shut down a long time ago for their many abuses and misbehaviors. It’s good that the whistleblower came out with this information and Sen. Grassley is trying to hold the ATF accountable. But I doubt that the ATF’s behavior will improve anytime soon.


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