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September 19, 2012 | By Richard A. Serrano
WASHINGTON - Fourteen federal law enforcement officials - from field agents in Arizona to top managers in the ATF and Department of Justice in Washington - created a “significant danger to public safety” under Operation Fast and Furious and those still employed were referred for possible job discipline for carrying out a gun-walking operation that saturated the Southwest Border with more than 2,000 illegally-purchased firearms. Less than an hour after those findings were announced Wednesday by the Justice Department's Inspector General's office, two of the individuals - Kenneth Melson, the former head of the ATF, and Deputy Assistant Atty.
September 8, 2011 | By Richard A. Serrano, Washington Bureau
In the second violent crime in this country connected with the ATF's failed Fast and Furious program, two Arizona undercover police officers were allegedly assaulted last year when they attempted to stop two men in a stolen vehicle with two of the program's weapons in a confrontation south of Phoenix. The officers, members of an elite Arizona Department of Public Safety law enforcement unit, said the driver rammed their cars and threatened them with the firearms, and then fled into the Arizona desert.
March 4, 2011 | Kim Murphy, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
By Kim Murphy, A federal operation that allowed weapons from the U.S. to pass into the hands of suspected gun smugglers so they could be traced to the higher echelons of Mexican drug cartels has lost track of hundreds of firearms, many of which have been linked to crimes, including the fatal shooting of a Border Patrol agent in December. The investigation, known as Operation Fast and Furious, was conducted even though U.S. authorities suspected that some of the weapons might be used in crimes, according to a variety of federal agents who voiced anguished objections to the operation.
A "rogue operation" within the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has accelerated approval of import permits for 150,000 modified assault weapons, despite President Clinton's clear intent to keep such guns out of the country, administration sources said Wednesday. The permits were approved "in an expedited manner" by a group of ATF agents who "knew full well that the weapons were all but banned by the president," said one senior administration official. The official noted that Clinton is on the verge of issuing an executive order barring imports of the rapid-fire arms.
May 3, 1987
Generally speaking, media coverage of the defense business is characterized by slanted, sensational, anti-industry diatribes. But Ralph Vartabedian's Advanced Tactical Fighter story ("Subcontractors See Red When Looking at ATF," April 19) is damn good. When it comes to publicity, civil servants are notorious cowards, so we have seen government officials increasingly criticizing the industry to satisfy congressional and media critics. There also is increasing direct government participation in the actual management of defense programs.
December 22, 2011 | By Richard A. Serrano, Washington Bureau
A reputed Mexican drug cartel leader was charged in the ambush slaying this year of a U.S. immigration officer in Mexico — a killing that set off a massive search for the assailants on both sides of the border. Julian Zapata Espinoza, an alleged chief with the Zetas cartel, pleaded not guilty in a brief court appearance Wednesday in the killing of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Agent Jaime Zapata on Feb. 15. He and another agent, who was wounded, were ambushed in their car by a convoy of vehicles in the Mexican state of San Luis Potosi.
March 22, 2012 | By Richard A. Serrano
Manuel Celis-Acosta, the chief suspect in the ATF's "Fast and Furious" investigation who was caught but released at the U.S.-Mexico border in May 2010, was also stopped and released two months earlier while in possession of a Colt .38-caliber pistol purchased illegally under the gun-tracking operation. The revelation that officials twice declined to arrest their prime suspect shows that agents were keenly aware of Celis-Acosta's activities yet repeatedly turned down opportunities to charge him with felony offenses and bring a quick end to the Fast and Furious probe.
April 28, 2013 | By Tom Zoellner and Sam Kleiner
The mayhem in Boston the week of April 15 was a reminder of how an American city can be paralyzed by a homemade bomb. The same kinds of improvised explosive devices that menaced U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan can easily be deployed by freelance terrorists or madmen trying to send a message, incite panic or just create a media spectacle. The Tsarnaev brothers were identified because of surveillance videotape, but the FBI might have been able to do it faster if tiny plastic markers had been part of the small-arms propellant packed into the pressure-cooker bombs.
December 15, 2013 | By Richard Feldman and Arkadi Gerney
A year ago, in the days after 20 schoolchildren and six adults were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., it seemed for a moment that something had changed in America's long-running cultural debate on guns. A new kind of national conversation - even some consensus - seemed possible. But that was then. Today the voices on both sides of the gun policy debate are back to being as shrill as ever. Still, behind the heated rhetoric, there are areas of agreement.
July 31, 2013 | By Carol J. Williams
Lax U.S. gun regulations are enabling the international trafficking of high-powered weapons and fueling the spread of gun violence in Latin America and the Caribbean, the Council on Foreign Relations argues in a report urging President Obama to take action on initiatives that have foundered in Congress. More than 70% of the 99,000 weapons recovered by Mexican law enforcement since 2007 were traced to U.S. manufacturers and importers, the council report said, citing data from the eTrace program of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
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