Thursday, March 10, 2011

Indictment At Center Of Operation Fast And Furious

On January 25th, Dennis Burke, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona, announced a grand jury indictment of 20 people on gun-running and drug charges. These charges were based upon the Operation Gunrunner (now Fast and Furious) investigation by the Phoenix Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. It seemed like a big bust at the time and it got a lot of publicity - as it was intended to do. We now know that this was only the tip of the iceberg.

Reading through the indictment of Jaime Avila, Jr. and the other defendents is interesting. By my rough count, the defendents purchased 717 firearms while only 123 were recovered by police and other law enforcement agencies. The majority of the firearms were sold by Lone Wolf Trading of Glendale, AZ. Indeed, I count 618 AK rifles and AK Draco pistols sold by them alone.

My conclusion on reading the indictment is that no FFL would have sold anything in that sort of quantity without the permission (and encouragement) of ATF.

Second, red flags had to be going off in Clarksburg, WV where the FBI was processing all those NICS checks before allowing the sales to go through. The FBI has not been mentioned in connection with Operation Gunwalker previously but these sales could not have been processed without their assistance. This leads to the question of what the FBI knew about this investigation and were they ordered by higher-ups in the Justice Department to provide assistance to ATF's ongoing investigation. If so, who?

H/T The Firing Line forum

ATF - AVILA, Jaime Indictment - USBP Agent Terry Murder


  1. "permission (and encouragement) of ATF". Call me pessimistic, but I've been assuming threats were involved. Reading the internal memos I've seen posted on the net leads me to believe they would not say "can you please help us mister gun store owner".

  2. @kayak - Encouragement come in all forms including threats. I don't doubt that coercion was used to get the FFL's to go along with those sales. No dealer who wanted to stay in business would sell 40 AK-47s to a Hispanic male unless he was forced to do so.

  3. I wouldn't be so sure the NICS people were in on it. First of all, each individual sale for 1 or many guns generates only 1 NICS check and all they're told besides the ID info is if it's long or handgun but not the number involved.

    Second, by law they're not supposed exceed their ambit of checking individual transactions, they're required to destroy the data in due course. And even if they were/are continuing to ignore that, it would require some slightly or even more clever analysis to detect this pattern (depends on how many sales mules were used). And they'd still not have much of an idea about the total firearms sold.