NOTE: The original posting of this letter indicated that the "Deputy Attorney General of the United States" participated in the meeting that decided upon what would turn out to be the beginning of the cover-up of Project Gunwalker -- the deliberate failure to tell the Mexican government. That was incorrect. The source meant to say "Assistant Attorney General." Specifically, Lanny Breuer, the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. Fortunately the hard-copy of the letter was not yet sent, and the correction was made before it was placed in the mail. -- MBV.
3 February 2011
CÓNSUL GENERAL SALVADOR DE LARA
Consulado General de México en Atlanta
1700 Chantilly Dr. NE
Atlanta Georgia 30324
I have been asked by someone who knows you well to brief you in writing about what I know about the scandal known as "Project Gunwalker" which resulted in the death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry on 14 December and especially on the deliberate, calculated and premeditated violation of Mexican sovereignty that this incident entailed.
By now I understand that you have been made aware of the questionable circumstances surrounding the death of BPA Terry -- how the ATF allowed over 2,000 semi-automatic rifles to be purchased by informants and "straw purchasers" and smuggled south of the international border in an ill-conceived attempt by the ATF to boost the agency's case for more funding in the much criticized "Project Gunrunner." In this operation, American gun stores were encouraged to allow questionable sales to go through, even when they called ATF to ask if they wished the transactions to be declined at the point of sale. (See the case of Carter's County gun stores in the Houston area.)
Here is what attorney Dick Deguerin was quoted as saying about this case, just a day before the murder of BPA Terry:
"Let me tell you something about Carter's Country. They have been co-operating with ATF from the get go," says attorney Dick Deguerin who represents Carter's Country owner, Bill Carter.
Deguerin says the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms asked Carter's Country to complete transactions, even when sales people strongly suspected the weapons were headed to Mexican drug gangs.
"They were told to go through with what they considered to be questionable sales. They were told to go through with sales of three or more assault rifles at the same time or five or more 9 millimeter guns at the same time or a young Hispanic male paying in cash. It's all profiling, but they went through with it," said Deguerin.
It was inevitable that one or more of the weapons allowed to go south without notifying the appropriate authorities of your government would end up in the hands of criminals. Brian Terry is dead from a bullet fired from one of these. Statistical probability and plain logic indicates that far more than one of your own citizens have already been killed by them since this operation began.
You should know that one ATF employee, Darren Gil, the ATF attache in Mexico City, tried to do the right thing. Though he was kept out of the "intelligence loop" by Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix, Arizona office, William D. "Bill" Newell, my understanding from other ATF agents who have now been contacted by Senator Grassley's office, is that Mr. Gil, when he learned by informal communication channels that this was happening, clashed with SAC Newell over whether your government should be notified. Newell insisted that there would be no notification of the appropriate Mexican authorities. Mr. Gil, I am told, did not take the word of a mere SAC when such an action involved possible violations of treaty and formal understandings between our two governments, contacted his superiors in Washington, D.C. In a meeting that I am told included Lanny Breuer, the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, Deputy Director Melson of ATF and various subordinates, it was decided to keep the government of Mexico in the dark. Mr. Gil, in return for his honest attempt to prevent an effusion of blood as well as an international incident, was forced into retirement and did so on 31 December of last year. Here, in words of an experienced ATF street agent, is what I was told on 17 December 2010:
"Darren Gil, former attache to Mexico is an honest and honorable guy. He was forcefully removed from Mexico without warning in November in large part because he wouldn't sit silent on these matters. He will tell the truth if asked by competent authority. He retired Dec 31 because of all this."
I understand that representations have been made to your government informally that this was an isolated incident. Yet, if that were the case, then why did our Attorney General Eric Holder select SAC Newell to replace Darren Gil earlier this week? He is to go to Mexico City and take over the attache position by 8 May according to ATF orders.
This again is a studied and deliberate insult to the government and sovereignty of the Republic of Mexico. To select the man who insisted that your government be lied to, either by omission or commission, cannot be otherwise interpreted.
I urge you to press this question with the U.S. State Department at the earliest opportunity. At the least, the government of the United States owes the Mexican government an abject apology for allowing this scandal to threaten the lives of Mexican citizens and the safety of your streets. Whether such an outrage demands monetary damages is, of course, a matter of consideration for your government. I would say, however, after many years of studying the ATF from near and far, that talk is cheap, promises forgotten and apologies insincere. Money damages, on the other hand, is a coin of the realm they well understand.
If I can be of further service, do not hesitate to contact me.
PO Box 926
Pinson, AL 35126