January 7, 2013
Source: Narcosphere, Bill Conroy
ATF Supervisor’s Questionable Gun Purchases Appear to Be Business As Usual
Two guns of interest were found in late November of last year near the scene of a gun battle in the Mexican state of Sinaloa. The battle, waged between the Mexican military and alleged drug traffickers, left five people dead, including a Mexican solider and a beauty queen named Maria Susana Flores Gamez.
One of those guns can be traced back to a Phoenix gun store that sold multiple weapons to local, state and federal law enforcers who allegedly provided inaccurate information on firearms-transaction reports filed as part of those purchases, Narco News has learned. The ultimate fate of those guns is not known but the potential fallout for multiple law enforcers in the Phoenix area could be serious, possibly even criminal, should the matter be investigated thoroughly — though it is that potential alone that may assure no law enforcer or prosecutor is going to take on the task.
The victims in the Sinaloa shootout last November were five of the estimated 120,000 Mexicans killed since late 2006 in that country’s bloody drug war. The two guns that made headlines in the wake of that shootout were among the 2,000 or so weapons that US law enforcers, specifically the ATF, allowed smugglers to purchase in Arizona and transport into Mexico, unimpeded, as part of the now-infamous Operation Fast and Furious.
The supposed goal of Fast and Furious was to let the guns flow across the border, resulting in countless homicides in Mexico, so that ATF brass and US prosecutors could identify and indict the big fish in the arms smuggling rings — thereby grabbing big headlines and advancing their careers.
The lead prosecutor for Operation Fast and Furious was an Assistant U.S. Attorney out of Phoenix named Emory Hurley. The ATF supervisor who served as the Assistant Special Agent in Charge of Fast and Furious from October 2009 until April 2010 was George Gillett Jr. Both individuals are still employed by the Department of Justice — though both have since been transferred new assignments.
One of the prime targets of the Fast and Furious investigation was an individual named Uriel Patino, a prolific arms smuggler who liked to deal in AK-47-style assault rifles and semi-automatic FN Hertsal 5.7 caliber pistols —known as cop killers in Mexico because of their knack for firing rounds that can penetrate bullet-proof vests.
Given these facts, it was more than a little disconcerting to a U.S. senator who has been investigating Fast and Furious when he discovered that one of the guns found near the scene of the recent Sinaloa gun battle was previously owned by ATF supervisor Gillett — while yet another gun found at the same crime scene, an AK-47, traced back to the arms smuggler Patino. What are the odds of that?
And it also appears that Gillett purchased the gun found at the Sinaloa crime scene — a FN Hertsal 5.7 — from a Phoenix retailer called Legendary Guns, according to media reports and other sources. In fact, records released by the office of U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, show Gillett not only purchased the FN Hertsal but also four other handguns between Dec. 15, 2009, and Jan. 7, 2010 — all while he was still helping to oversee Operation Fast and Furious, which was targeting Patino, among others.
To make matters worse, according to Grassley, as he outlines in a letter sent last month to the Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General, ATF supervisor Gillett allegedly was less than truthful in filling out the required firearms-transactions forms for the purchase of those five weapons — including the FN Hertsal later found in Mexico at a crime scene.
The federal form, known as a 4473, called for Gillett to use his residential address. Instead, he wrote in the address of the Phoenix ATF field office, 201 E. Washington (adding Apt. 940) for two of the arms transactions — which involved the purchase of three handguns, including the FN Hertsal. For the third transaction, involving two more handguns, Gillett used the address of a Phoenix strip shopping center, 7000 N. 16th St.
In his letter to the DOJ Inspector General, Grassley wrote:
Specifically, documentation appears to indicate that during Operation Fast and Furious, Mr. Gillett made multiple firearm purchases at a Federal Firearm Licensee (FFL) in Phoenix. According to the forms, Mr. Gillett appears to have purchased weapons on December 15, 2009, January 5, 2010, and January 7, 2010. Documents show the residence listed on the Firearms Transaction Record (Form 4473) for two of the gun purchases was the local Phoenix ATF office. For the third purchase, Gillett listed a commercial shopping center in Phoenix as his residence. Clearly, the addresses on the forms do not accurately and truthfully reflect Gillett’s actual residence in Phoenix.
Lying on a Form 4473 is a felony and can be punished by up to five years in prison, in addition to fines. Many individuals who were arrested in Fast and Furious were charged for lying on the Form 4473. Jaime Avila, Jr. recently plead guilty to a variety of charges, including making false statements in connection with the acquisition of a firearm, and his initial arrest just after Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s murder [in December 2010] was for giving a false address on Form 4473.
One of the most troubling aspects of this new information is that one of the weapons listed as having been purchased by Gillett was recently recovered in Sinaloa, Mexico, the same weekend and in the same area as a shootout between the Mexican military and drug cartel members in Sinaloa, Mexico.