Friday, August 26, 2011

Sipsey Street Exclusive: Before he became "Gunwalker Bill." October 2008 "Priorities" Memo From ATF Phoenix SAC Newell.

Over the electronic transom comes this 6 October 2008 memo kindly posted on Scribd by David Codrea.

MEMORANDUM TO: All Phoenix Field Division Employees.
FROM: William D. Newell, Special Agent in Charge
SUBJECT: Fiscal Year 2009 Priorities

These are essentially marching orders to each subdivision of the Phoenix Field Division for the next year. From Page One;

ATF's FY 2009 -- FY 2015 Strategic Plan contains four mission activities and two management activities asw strategic priorities. The mission priorities in firearms trafficking, criminal organizations, explosives, and fire/arson reflect our core areas of expertise that we consistently work to strengthen. The management priorities -- managing our workforce and modernizing our agency -- will support our mission and ensure its successful accomplishment.

Firearms Trafficking -- ATF is the only Federal law enforcement agency with the legislative mandate to regulate the firearms industry. The goal of ATF's firearms trafficking enforcement efforts is to reduce crime by deterring the diversion of firearms from unlawful commerce into the illegal market. ATF investigates and arrests individuals and organizations who illegally obtain and supply firearms to prohibited individuals. Utilizing multiple complementing approaches and technologies, ATF carries out its mission to thwart illegal firearms trafficking.

Strategic Priority -- Strategic Priority: reduce violent firearms crimes by strengthening firearms trafficking intelligence gathering, analysis, inspection and investigative activity.

This memo is made up of much standard ATF boilerplate. Of some interest are the instructions to Phoenix Group I on firearms trafficking on Page Five:

With a primary focus on "Gunrunner" investigations, which are those that involve the trafficking of firearms to Mexico. Continue to be proactive in dealing with the USAO (United States Attorneys Office, MBV) on these cases to ensure they are afforded the opportunity to bring to bear the pertinent Federal firearms statutes. Continue to build upon the effective relationship with the Arizona Attorney General's in addressing those cases not meeting the USAO's criteria or declined by same.

Here we have confirmation of the difficulty with Napolitano protege' Dennis Burke's office that the street agents testified to in the second hearing regarding "straw purchase" busts.

On pages five and six, in his instructions to Phoenix Group II which is tasked with "eliminating the illegal source(s) of firearms destined to violent gangs and groups in Maricopa County," Newell says:

Fully support the newly formed ECDETF Strike Force (MBV: This is certainly a typo. I think Newell means OCDETF) by assigning two special agents full-time to the DEA Phoenix Office, where the Strike Force will be housed. The mission of the Phoenix OCDETF Strike Force is to disrupt and dismantle the most significant drug trafficking organizations, designated by DOJ as Consolidated Priority Targets, currently trafficking narcotics in and firearms out of the U.S.

Ah, yes, OCDETF -- Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force:

The OCDETF Program was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multi-level attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. Today, OCDETF combines the resources and expertise of its member federal agencies which include: the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Internal Revenue Service, and the U.S. Coast Guard – in cooperation with the Department of Justice Criminal Division, the Tax Division, and the 93 U.S. Attorney’s Offices, as well as with state and local law enforcement. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s drug supply.

OCDETF is the centerpiece of the Attorney General’s drug supply reduction strategy. In order to enhance the OCDETF Program’s ability to contribute to the President’s mandate to reduce the drug supply, the Program focuses its resources on coordinated, nationwide investigations, targeting the entire infrastructure of major drug trafficking. It also assisted in the development of the Attorney General’s Consolidated Priority Organization Target (CPOT) List, a unified agency target list of international “command and control” drug traffickers and money launderers. OCDETF’s attack on the related components of these major trafficking organizations will not only disrupt the drug market, resulting in a reduction in the drug supply, but will also bolster law enforcement efforts in the fight against those terrorist groups supported by the drug trade.

The OCDETF Fusion Center (OFC) will gather, store and analyze all-source drug and related financial investigative information and intelligence to support coordinated, multi-jurisdictional investigations focused on the disruption and dismantlement of the most significant drug trafficking and money laundering enterprises.

There is no doubt that the bureaucracy was in place in 2009 to widely disseminate the knowledge of gunwalking operations to all the agencies involved in OCDETF fusion centers, including of course EPIC. (Previous EPIC story here -- "El Paso Intelligence Center: What did EPIC know about Project Gunwalker and when did they know it? Likely answer: Everything and early."

Newell's instruction to Tucson Group I on firearms trafficking are also interesting:

With a primary focus on "Gunrunner" investigations, which are those that involve the trafficking of firearms to Mexico. Primary focus in furtherance of this should be proactive investigations and operational activity of the sources of crime guns recovered in Mexico and the Tuscon AOR, specifically but not limited to Gun Shows, FFLs and Straw Purchasers of large quantities of "weapons of choice".

"Proactive investigations and operational activity." We will have to wait for more 2008-dated documents to know just exactly how Newell defined that. Still, testimony of the agents so far indicates that the "gunwalking" program didn't begin until later in 2009.

I will also be most interested to receive, and thus compare and contrast, "Gunwalker Bill's" instructions for the Fiscal Years of 2010 and 2011, as he assigned tasks to his swelling personnel rolls in furtherance of the Obama administration's acceleration of Project Gunrunner as it morphed into Project Gunwalker.

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