(Ken Silva, Headline USA) An ATF whistleblower has filed a shocking disclosure, alleging that an ATF investigator trafficked guns to Mexico for years, and that top bureau officials covered up his illegal activity.
The whistleblower disclosure raises grave questions about whether the ATF is continuing to flood Mexico with illegal firearms. It comes more than 10 years after the revelations from Operation Fast and Furious—an Obama-era scandal where the purposely allowed illegal gun purchases under the guise of tracking organized crime.
According to the whistleblower, ATF Investigator Jose Luis Meneses, a foreign national, admitted to engaging in trafficking numerous firearms for multiple years.
The whistleblower said that in May 2017, the ATF Deputy Attaché in Tijuana interviewed Meneses after ATF Mexico received a tip that he had trafficked numerous firearms into the country.
In the interview, Meneses admitted that for multiple years he ordered various firearms parts from the internet and retail stores in the U.S. to traffic into Mexico. Meneses claimed that he purchased enough firearm parts to complete eight AR-15-style rifles.
Meneses further admitted that he purchased and trafficked firearms for at least three people in Mexico: his brother who was a police officer, a state judicial official, and a man identified as “Romero,” a former member of the Mexican military. “Romero” would complete the AR rifles in Mexico to further sell and traffic the firearms to others in Mexico.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who received the whistleblower’s disclosure, wrote a letter to ATF Director Steven Dettelbach about the apparent scandal.
“According to the ATF memo and whistleblower disclosures, ATF did not investigate whether Meneses had ties to Mexican cartels, whether ‘Romero’ was connected to the cartel, the full extent of Meneses’s trafficking network, whether he had co-conspirators both in the U.S. and Mexico, or if other ATF employees were complicit or involved in his criminal activity,” Grassley said to Dettelbach.
“Whistleblower disclosures indicate that Meneses used his ATF issued devices and diplomatic vehicle to conduct some or all of his firearm trafficking into the U.S. because his diplomatic plates would not subject him to searches at the U.S. and Mexico borders.”
Grassley further said that the ATF could have run a trace on Meneses government phone and GPS location data for the vehicle but, according to allegations, they did not.
Instead, the ATF seemingly treated Menses’s activities as a minor administrative matter.
“For example, the memo provides that the consequence for admitting to engaging in this activity merely was that ‘Menses was placed on administrative leave on March 14, 2017.’ The memo further states that ‘following an administrative investigation, on April 10, 2017, his employment at the U.S. Consulate in Tijuana ended,’” the Senator noted.
According to allegations, the ATF terminated Meneses “without cause” and ultimately paid him a severance package after the termination.
Grassley asked numerous questions to Dettelbach, including whether the ATF referred Meneses’s case to the Justice Department.
“If not, why not?” he added.
According to media reports at the time, it was widely known that Mexican drug cartels would recruit current and former Mexican military personnel to be enforcers to carry out violent attacks on behalf of cartels.
Some have gone as far as to suggest that the U.S. government has purposely armed the Sinaloa Cartel—pointing to evidence such as the DEA exchanging intelligence with the criminal organization.
Meanwhile, the ATF still doesn’t even know how many guns are still on the streets from the original Fast and Furious scandal.
The U.S. government reportedly lost 2,000 firearms during Operation Fast and Furious, of which only 710 were recovered as of February 2012.
In April, Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., asked Dettelbach how many more have been recovered since then, and the ATF boss said he didn’t know.
Biggs said one of the Fast and Furious guns has recently been used in a crime. Biggs didn’t provide details of this crime, but said the ATF is now questioning the firearms dealer from which the gun emanated.
Ken Silva is a staff writer at Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.