Tuesday, October 3, 2023

ATF Alerts Texas Firearm Dealers of Potential Cartel Threats Within 60 Days

Texas-based Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) have been alerted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) about individuals seeking to purchase .50 caliber rifles and belt-fed firearms.

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The ATF initiated communications with gun vendors in Dallas and Houston due to concerns about straw buyers seeking high-powered weaponry. There's a belief, based on a captured phone call, that cartels are orchestrating these purchases, potentially prepping for an event within two months. However, the ATF agent didn't provide details about the cartels' intentions. The circulated advisory states:

"Law enforcement recommends FFLs be vigilant of potential illicit intents to use straw buyers to acquire large caliber firearms, such as .50 caliber and belt-fed rifles, in the upcoming 60 days across Texas. Reach out to your regional ATF office for any suspicious transactions."

This advisory is statewide, with the ATF urging dealers to report any questionable transactions. The ATF remains tight-lipped about further details.

It's uncertain if the anticipated cartel activity will manifest within the U.S. or in Mexico.

A Historical Perspective

The current scenario revives memories of the controversial "Fast and Furious" operation during the Obama administration. In that operation, overseen by then Attorney General Eric Holder, guns were deliberately sold to cartels, with the intention of tracing them to Mexico. However, the Department of Justice (DOJ) lost track, and these weapons were eventually used against U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officers, leading to the tragic death of one agent.

Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry encountered a group of armed criminals near Nogales. One individual, Heraclio Osorio-Arellanes, used a weapon obtained through the "Fast and Furious" operation to fatally shoot Terry.

Born in Michigan, Terry had a passion for law enforcement. After serving in the Marines, he pursued a career in the police force. Later, he joined the CBP, rising to be part of their elite unit handling high-risk situations.

Given past incidents like "Fast and Furious", there's now skepticism among Texas FFLs towards the ATF. Many perceive federal agencies as adversaries rather than collaborators.

Certain FFLs are apprehensive that reporting dubious sales could bring unwarranted ATF scrutiny. Under the Biden administration's strict approach, FFL revocations have surged.

The relationship between FFLs and gun shops has become strained. Instead of fostering collaboration, the ATF under President Joe Biden appears more confrontational, potentially compromising efforts to combat crime and inadvertently bolstering the power of Mexican cartels.

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