This summer, the Office of Inspector General had the ATF’s balls for breakfast. The federal watchdog took the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (and Really Big Fires) to task for Project Gunrrunner’s abject failure to nail “the big fish” behind the so-called “iron river” of smuggled guns heading south. Today, an ATF press release trumpeted their success in the case of one Edwing Ronal Morales, convicted for lying on his ATF Form 4473. Yes, well, back in September 2009, nashvillecitypaper.com reported the wider picture . . .
According to the indictment, Julio Cesar Rojas-Lopez was the ringleader of an alleged conspiracy to legally purchase semi-automatic pistols, revolvers, and ammunition for export to the Republic of Guatemala. The firearms and ammunition were being smuggled to members of the Lorenzana and Mendoza drug cartels located in Guatemala, officials said.
Metro Police officer Edwing Ronal, Donald Efren Franco, Denis Franco, Luis Armando and Monterroso Pineda were recruited by Rojas-Lopez to purchase the weapons, according to the indictment.
Members of the two drug cartels, which authorities say control trafficking routes through Guatemala for drugs headed to Mexico, allegedly controlled most of the decision-making from Guatemala. They allegedly gave Rojas-Lopez a supply order of what to purchase and when to smuggle the weapons out of the U.S., the indictment claimed. Thousands and thousands of dollars were then wired to Rojas-Lopez for the purchase and export of firearms and ammunition.
From June 2008-July 2009, the defendants purchased 23 firearms and attempted to purchase five more guns and ammunition. Eighteen of the 23 fraudulently purchased firearms were smuggled to the Republic of Guatemala.
So . . . what happened to the larger case? And while we’re at it, why have gun dealers suddenly become the bad guys? Check this from the Nashville police press release back in September 2009:
“The case was made by the work of Metro Nashville Police, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ATF and the US Attorney’s office. Critical as well, was honest Federal Firearms Dealers who carefully maintain their records and who refuse to be swept into a straw purchase conspiracy.”
Question: if there are so many U.S. straw purchases of black rifles for Mexican drug lords that the feds need a long gun registry, why aren’t we seeing any press releases touting the ATF’s success on that score? Perhaps they blame their lack of results on the lack of a long gun registry?
Speaking to that point, today’s press release doesn’t tie the Morales case to the ATF’s multiple handgun sales reporting requirement—upon which the long gun reporting initiative is based. If the ATF’s handgun rule doesn’t deliver results, why would the long gun version work?
And while we’re at it, how many feds does it take to bust a group of gunrunners? How much did the Morales case cost U.S. taxpayers? Today’s press release on the dirty cop has reps from the ATF, Department of Homeland Security and the Nashville police taking credit for the bust. (ICE got stiffed.) I’ve never seen a press release from the ATF that didn’t involve another local, state, tribal or federal agency. Other than checking form 4473, do we really need these guys?