ATF Employee Allegedly Caught Running Gun Smuggling Operation

One of the most influential departments in American law enforcement is the ATF, or Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Legislation it passes may have far-reaching consequences for responsible citizens who possess firearms. A Senate leader has accused agency staff of wrongdoing and is now demanding answers.

On October 18, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) sent a letter to ATF Director Steven Dettelbach telling him that whistleblowers have contacted his office to raise concerns about the agency’s failure to “hold its employees accountable for engaging in criminal misconduct.” Specifically, the ATF reportedly failed to fully investigate an employee who was allegedly illegally trafficking firearms.

According to documentation provided to Grassley, ATF Investigator Jose Luis Meneses was posted to the US Consulate in Tijuana, Mexico in 2017. Meneses, a foreign national, allegedly confessed to a lengthy career of gun trafficking. The ATF decided against conducting a thorough probe.

Craig Saier, who was serving as ATF Attaché for the Mexico Country Office (ATF Mexico) at the time, emailed William Duncan, who was serving as Deputy Chief of Mission for the State Department in Mexico City, in May of that year. The email, sent to the Mexican government, was labeled “Notification to Government of Mexico of ATF Investigator Involved in Firearms Trafficking” and detailed the agency’s supposed discovery of evidence showing Meneses was involved in gun trafficking.

Among the many requests Grassley made to the ATF director were the following:

  • hand over information related to an investigation of the allegations against Meneses;
  • provide answers as to whether the agency investigated any other ATF employees or other possible co-conspirators;
  • give the senator any records pertaining to Meneses trafficking arms into the US;
  • provide documents about the investigator allegedly using his ATF-issued vehicle to traffick firearms from America into Mexico, and;
  • explain the process the agency uses to screen foreign nationals before hiring them.

The ATF director had until October 18, the same day as the date of the letter, to provide the material to the senator.




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