ATF Out of Control


July 9, 2009, 01:18 AM
Hey, BATFE! Ever heard of the Fourth Amendment?:banghead: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Federal agents hunt for guns, one house at a time
By DANE SCHILLER Copyright 2009 Houston Chronicle
June 30, 2009, 9:36PM

In front of a run-down shack in north Houston, federal agents step from a government sedan into 102-degree heat and face a critical question: How can the woman living here buy four high-end handguns in one day?

The house is worth $35,000. A screen dangles by a wall-unit air conditioner. Porch swing slats are smashed, the smattering of grass is flattened by cars and burned yellow by sun.

“I’ll do the talking on this one,” agent Tim Sloan, of South Carolina, told partner Brian Tumiel, of New York.

Success on the front lines of a government blitz on gunrunners supplying Mexican drug cartels with Houston weaponry hinges on logging heavy miles and knocking on countless doors. Dozens of agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — sent here from around the country — are needed to follow what ATF acting director Kenneth Melson described as a “massive number of investigative leads.”

All told, Mexican officials in 2008 asked federal agents to trace the origins of more than 7,500 firearms recovered at crime scenes in Mexico. Most of them were traced back to Texas, California and Arizona.

Among other things, the agents are combing neighborhoods and asking people about suspicious purchases as well as seeking explanations as to how their guns ended up used in murders, kidnappings and other crimes in Mexico.

“Ever turning up the heat on cartels, our law enforcement and military partners in the government of Mexico have been working more closely with the ATF by sharing information and intelligence,” Melson said Tuesday during a firearms-trafficking summit in New Mexico.
Firearms dealers visited

The ATF recently dispatched 100 veteran agents to its Houston division, which reaches to the border.

The mission is especially challenging because, officials say, that while Houston is the number one point of origin for weapons traced back to the United States from Mexico, the government can’t compile databases on gun owners under federal law.

Agents instead review firearms dealers’ records in person.

People who are legally in the United States and have clean criminal records, but are facing economic problems are often recruited by traffickers to buy weapons on their behalf in order to shield themselves from scrutiny.

Knocks at the door of the shack that looked to be the definition of hard times went unanswered.

“I am out of here,” Sloan said a few moments later, as a pit bull lazily sauntered from the back yard. “I don’t like pit bulls walking up behind me.”
Best information source

On second thought, Sloan switched to Spanish and interviewed a neighbor.

The neighbor said the woman left a month ago after a fight with her husband or boyfriend, who still lived there with what she called “other degenerates.”

“An angry ex-girlfriend or wife is the best person in the world, the greatest source of information,” Sloan said.

The night before, the duo were in a stakeout where they watched a weapons sale.

They also combined efforts with the Drug Enforcement Administration for an aircraft to stealthily follow traffickers to the border.

On this day, agents weren’t wearing raid jackets or combat boots and weren’t armed with warrants.

Guns were hidden under civilian shirts.

Another tip took agents on a 30-minute drive from the shack to a sprawling home with a pool in the back and an American flag out front.

It turned out two handguns, of a type drug gangsters prefer, were bought by a pastor for target practice.

Some stories, they say, are hard to believe.

The lamest so far came from a police officer: He said he bought a few military-style rifles, left them in his car and — on the same night — forgot to lock a door. He couldn’t explain why he didn’t file a police report or why he visited Mexico the day after the alleged theft.

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July 9, 2009, 01:18 AM

July 9, 2009, 01:21 AM
And this from the NRA-ILA site:

In Border States, BATFE Asks: "May We See Your Guns?"

Friday, June 19, 2009

NRA-ILA has recently received several calls from NRA members in border states who have been visited or called by agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. In some cases, agents have asked to enter these people's homes, and requested serial numbers of all firearms the members possess.

In each case, the agents were making inquiries based on the number of firearms these NRA members had recently bought, and in some cases the agents said they were asking because the members had bought types of guns that are frequently recovered in Mexico.

This kind of questioning may or may not be part of a legitimate criminal investigation. For example, when BATFE traces a gun seized after use in a crime, manufacturers' and dealers' records will normally lead to the first retail buyer of that gun, and investigators will have to interview the buyer to find out how the gun ended up in criminal hands. But in other cases, the questioning may simply be based on information in dealers' records, with agents trying to "profile" potentially suspicious purchases.

On the other hand, some of the agents have used heavy-handed tactics. One reportedly demanded that a gun owner return home early from a business trip, while another threatened to "report" an NRA member as "refusing to cooperate." That kind of behavior is outrageous and unprofessional.

Whether agents act appropriately or not, concerned gun owners should remember that all constitutional protections apply. Answering questions in this type of investigation is generally an individual choice. Most importantly, there are only a few relatively rare exceptions to the general Fourth Amendment requirement that law enforcement officials need a warrant to enter a home without the residents' consent. There is nothing wrong with politely, but firmly, asserting your rights.
If BATFE contacts you and you have any question about how to respond, you may want to consult a local attorney. NRA members may also call NRA-ILA's Office of Legislative Counsel at (703) 267-1161 for further information. Whether contacting a local attorney or NRA, be sure to provide as many details as possible, including the date, time, and location, agent's name, and specific questions asked.

July 9, 2009, 01:22 AM
I searched "ATF" in the topics/headlines and found nothing.

July 9, 2009, 01:23 AM
There was another thread that this would fit with but it may have been closed.

Anyways, thanks for the read and information!

July 9, 2009, 01:31 AM
You betcha.

The feds have no right to perform these searches. It reminds me of the recent story of the Iowa National Guard's proposed invasion of Arcadia to train their troops in house-to-house searches. Yikes.

It's getting scary out there...

July 9, 2009, 01:44 AM
They're not performing searches, they're knocking on peoples door and asking to see the weapons. Nothing unreasonable about that. every one they speak to is free to (and should)decline to answer anyquestions without an attorney and to decline the search.

and yes, this has been posted several times

July 9, 2009, 01:52 AM
...They're ASKING.....I don't think it's unreasonable for anyone to knock on my door and ask me something.

Doesn't mean I'm going to ANSWER, but they can ask all they want...

They're not entering your house (unless you invite them in) or conducting searches or seizures, so they have every right really to go around asking...

Kind of Blued
July 9, 2009, 01:58 AM
The last two posts have demonstrated a proper understanding of the Fourth Amendment. The ATF has every right to do this. YOU have every right to tell them to get lost and slam the door in their face. If they have a warrant, they won't need to ask your permission.

July 9, 2009, 02:13 AM
repost At least the sixth one.

This is a "hot topic" you know!

Nobody else can have seen it in the 9 days since it was published!

Searched by URL (

Searched by reporters email address (

Searching for '' brings 'em up (

Contacted by BATFE today!! (

Contacted by BATFE today!! *Update* (

July 9, 2009, 02:15 AM
Ordinarily I wouldn’t bring this up, but since I know this thread is going to get locked anyway. I happened to be watching a Cops rerun tonight and in two back to back segments the Pierce County (WA) SO and the Portland (OR) PD walked right past to homeowners that were very specifically stating that they did not wish the Officers to search the premises. In on case the homeowner’s daughter came to the door, asked to see a warrant and asked to see an arrest warrant. The Deputies just kept coming. Lesson learned if the police (or the ATF) show up at your home walk out the door and close it behind you before speaking.

July 9, 2009, 02:22 AM
Already posted and discussed.

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