Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Codrea & Vanderboegh Exclusive: Documents detail early knowledge by Lanny Breuer and subordinates of "gunwalking."

"I'm shocked! Shocked! To find gunwalking going on here!"

Email correspondence and handwritten notes obtained today by
David Codrea of the National Gun Rights Examiner
and this correspondent provide details on information and strategy being shared between top level officials of the Department of Justice and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, including between Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer and then-ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson.

These documents, in the possession of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, provide a much clearer picture than that given by Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer in his statement of yesterday of what the Justice Department knew of the tactic of "letting guns walk" and when they, and Breuer himself, knew about it.

Readers will recall that on 4 February 2011, Ronald Weich the Justice Department's Assistant Attorney General wrote a letter to Senator Charles Grassley, saying, "ATF makes every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally and prevent their transportation to Mexico."

Yet, in an email exchange during the 3rd and 4th of December 2009, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer approved a Gang Unit prosecutor being assigned to ATF gun trafficking cases at the request of ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson. These documents are labeled with the committee filing notation "HOGR ATF 2730."

From: Melson, Kenneth E. (REDACTED)
Sent: Thursday, December 03, 2009 5:45PM
To: Breuer, Lanny A.
Cc: Siskel, Edward N. (ODAG) (SMO); Hoover, William J.
Subject: Weapons seizures in Mexico

Lanny: We have decided to take a little different approach with regard to seizures of multiple weapons in Mexico. Assuming the guns are traced, instead of working each trace almost independently of the other traces from the seizure, I want to coordinate and monitor the work on all of them collectively as if the seizure was one case. Using the traces as intelligence, and compiling the information from each trace investigation, we can connect the purchases, identify the traffickers and use more serious charges against them. The intelligence analysis and linking of trace data and investigation results will be done at HQ out of our intelligence directorate. I would like to see if you have any interest in assigning a criminal division attorney to work with that group to develop multi-division/district cases and perhaps go to the district with the best venue to indict the case. The level of activity will depend on the number of Mexican seizures, and whether they will trace the guns, or allow us to do it. We do seem to be making progress with our Mexican partners. We are currently working on a case with SSP which might lead us to the first joint arrest in Mexico of a person connect to US arms trafficking. We should meet again just to catch up on where we are in our gun trafficking issues and we could talk about the above idea as well. Let me know what you think. Thanks. Ken.

From: Breuer, Lanny A. (REDACTED)
Sent: Friday, December 04, 2009 10:18 AM
To: Melson, Kenneth E.
Cc: Siskel, Edward N. (ODAG) (SMO); Hoover, William J.; Weinstein, Jason; Rosen, Paul; Raman, Mythili; Fagell, Steven
Subject: RE: Weapons seizures in Mexico


We think it is a terrific idea and a great way to approach the investigations of these seizures. Our Gang Unit will be assigning an attorney to help coordinate this effort. Please let us know who will be the POC at ATF on this, and we'll have the Gang Unit folks reach out to that person. I would love to see you to discuss this further and other issues of common interest. I hope you are well.



From: Melson, Kenneth E.
Sent: Friday, December 04, 2009 12:26 PM
To: Back, Michelle A.
Subject: FW: Weapons seizures in Mexico

Would you set up a meeting with Mr. Breuer. Billy, Mark, and Sam should go too. Thanks.

Pursuant to this meeting of the minds, on 1 March 2010, DOJ Gang Unit prosecutor Joe Cooley reported to ATF and began work on Operation Fast and Furious around the time his fellow Gang Unit prosecutor Laura Gwinn is reporting up the chain that guns were walked in Operation Wide Receiver. These documents are filed by the committe as "HOGR ATF 2155-2156."

From: Cooley, Joseph (REDACTED)
Sent: March 01, 2010 10:43 AM
To: Gillett, George T. Jr; Voth, David J.
Cc: O'Keefe, Kevin C.
Sunject: Firearms Investigation


At the request of ATF Headquarters, Gang Unit has agreed to assist in the Firearms trafficking into Mexico investigations. Earlier this year, I was assigned to this task. I just finished up a trial last week and am now available to provide any assistance needed. I understand that the case agent working out of the Phoenix Office is Hope McAllister. I could not find her in the email directory. Please have her contact me at her earliest convenience.


Joseph A. Cooley
Trial Attorney
Gang Unit
Department of Justice

From: Gillett, George T. Jr. (REDACTED)
Sent: Monday, March 01, 2010 12:59 PM
To: Cooley, Joseph; Voth, David J.
Cc: O'Keefe, Kevin C.; MacAllister, Hope A.; Hurley, Emory (USAAZ)
Subject: RE: Firearms Investigation

Mr. Cooley --

The investigation you are referring to has been dubbed, "The Fast and Furious." This is an approved OCDETF investigation. I will have group supervisor David Voth coordinate with you to meet on this investigation. There is a briefing scheduled at 1:00 PM on Friday, May 5, at ATF Headquarters on this and other active, southwest border investigations. It may be most effective (if your schedule permits) to attend this briefing. However, I will have Mr. Voth contact you on your cell phone to coordinate a meeting with you before the briefing so you can be completely up to speed.

Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have further questions/concerns.

George T. Gillett
Assistant Special Agent in Charge
ATF -- Phoenix Field Division

Committee documents (HOGR 2807-2809) also present the evidence from 5 March 2010 of Joe Cooley's handwritten notes when Cooley is briefed on Operation Fast and Furious as well as Operation Wide Receiver. (See pdf here.)

Committee documents HOGR DOJ 2817-2823 from a 12 March 2010 briefing on Operation Fast and Furious include Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler's notes. The notes include such details as the fact that by 12 March one straw buyer had bought 313 guns and another had bought 231; the amount of money each straw buyer had spent on gun purchases, most in the tens of thousaands of dollars, along with a note from Grindler saying "all cash"; and a map of where in Mexico guns were being recovered.

(See pdf of all documents, photos, notes and emails here.)

In committee document number HOGR WR 3439 On 16 March 2010, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein asks the chief of the Gang Unit Kevin Carwhile, to whom both Cooley and Gwinn report: "(D)id ATF allow the guns to walk, or did ATF learn about the volume of guns after the FFL began cooperating?"

From: Carwhile, Kevin
Sent: Tuesday, March 16, 2010 10:47 AM
To: Weinstein, Jason
Subject: talking points

Here is a quick page of talking points. You did not describe the intended audience. The two operations are pre-indictment so the info on these matters would need to be kept internal. See attached.

P. Kevin Carwhile
Chief, Gang Unit
Criminal Division
U.S. Department of Justice

From: Weinstein, Jason
Sent, Tuesday, March 16, 2010 11:04AM
To: Carwhile, Kevin
Subject: RE: talking points

I'm looking forward to reading the pros memo on Wide Receiver but am curious -- did ATF allow the guns to walk, or did ATF learn about the volume of guns after the FFL began cooperating?

From: Carwhile, Kevin
Sent: Tuesday, March 16, 2010 11:09 AM
To: Weinstein, Jason
Subject: RE: talking points

My recollection is they learned afterward. The pros memo will be ready soon. Any thoughts/progress on the (REDACTED) matter?

P. Kevin Carwhile
Chief Gang Unit
Criminal Division
U.S. Department of Justice

Sources indicate that Justice Department officials acknowledged recently in a widely-attended briefing with Congressional staff that Carwhile's recollection that "they learned afterward" would "prove false."

According to committee document HOGR WR 3845, on 30 April 2010, Weinstein told Breuer that "ATF let a bunch of guns walk in effort to get upstream conspirators but only got straws, and didn't recover many guns. Some were recovered in MX after being used in crimes."

From: Weinstein, Jason
To: Breuer, Lanny A.; Raman, Mythili; Fagell, Steven
Sent: Wed Apr 28 18:59:27 2010
Subject: Operation Wide Receiver

Jim T and I met with Billy Hoover and with Laura and Alisa to talk about this gun trafficking case with the issues about the guns being allowed to walk for investigative purposes. Can fill you in tomorrow in more detail but we all think the best move is to indict both Wide Receiver I and Wide Receiver II under seal and then unseal as part of Project Deliverance, where focus will be on aggregate seizures and not on particulars of any one indictment.

Jason M. Weinstein
Deputy Assistant Attorney General
Criminal Division
U.S. Department of Justice

From: Breuer, Lanny A.
To: Weinstein, Jason
Sent: Fri Apr 30 18:39:45 2010
Subject: RE: Operation Wide Receiver

Anything I should know about thos? (this).

From: Weinstein, Jason
Sent: Friday, April 30, 2010 7:03 PM
To: Breuer, Lanny A.
Subject: Re: Operation Wide Receiver

As you'll recall from Jim's briefing, ATF let a bunch of guns walk in effort to get upstream conspirators but only got straws, and didn't recover many guns. Some were recovered in MX after being used in crimes. Billy, Jim, Laura, Alisa and I all think the best way to announce the case without highlighting the negative part of the story and risking embarrassing ATF is as part of Deliverance.

Jason M. Weinstein
Deputy Assistant Attorney General
Criminal Division
U.S. Department of Justice

On 10 June 2010 Project Deliverance was announced by DOJ:

DEA Acting Administrator Michele M. Leonhart joined Attorney General Eric Holder to announce the arrest of 2,266 individuals on narcotics-related charges in the United States and the seizure of more than 74.1 tons of illegal drugs as part of a 22-month multi-agency law enforcement investigation known as “Project Deliverance.”

Yesterday, 429 of the arrests took place in 16 states as part of “Project Deliverance,” which targeted the transportation infrastructure of Mexican drug trafficking organizations in the United States, especially along the Southwest border, through coordination between federal, state and local law enforcement. More than 3,000 agents and officers operated across the United States to make the arrests yesterday. Also, during yesterday’s enforcement action, $5.8 million, 17 pounds of methamphetamine, 112 kilograms of cocaine, 2,951 pounds of marijuana, 141 weapons and 85 vehicles were seized by law enforcement agents.

In addition to 2,266 arrests overall, “Project Deliverance” has led to the seizure of $154 million, and 1,262 pounds of methamphetamine, 2.5 tons of cocaine, 1,410 pounds of heroin, 69 tons of marijuana, 501 weapons and 527 vehicles during the entire course of the operation.

“This interagency, cross-border operation has been our most extensive, and most successful, law enforcement effort to date targeting these deadly cartels, and it is a direct result of our ongoing Southwest Border Strategy,” said Attorney General Holder. “This successful operation, however, is just one battle in an ongoing war. So long as cartels and smugglers attempt to wreak havoc on our borders, we will continue to target them with every resource available to the federal government. This Administration, working with law enforcement at all levels as well as our international partners, is committed to defeating these cartels, and we have proven the power of strong collaboration and coordination in achieving the goal.”

Whether the strategy to fold the Wide Receiver prosecutions into the larger Project Deliverance was actually implemented is unclear at this writing. What is clear is that the Jason Weinstein, Lanny Breuer and their subordinates were so convinced of the risk of "embarrassing ATF" with charges of gunwalking that they were willing to hide the one case within another.

And the date was 30 April 2010.


Anonymous said...

"...were so convinced of the risk of "embarrassing ATF" with charges of gunwalking that they were willing to hide the one case within another."

Yeah, and they did it like it was nothing but SOP. Ever wonder what else is....?

Anonymous said...

An article for your blog if you want it. http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/11/01/south-carolina-sheriff-need-to-protect-yourself/

Anonymous said...

The DOJ has trotted out Lanny Breuer with the apparent intention of giving the impression that FnF started as a semi-rogue ATF "gun walking" operation with DOJ officials learning the sad facts after the guns were already in the hands of the bad guys.

Its purpose is likely, in part, to draw attention away from Whitehouse National Security Staff member Kevin O'Reilly's coordination with William Newell.........By the way, where is Kevin Orielly, and why hasn't he testified? Who was O'Reilly's boss during "Fast and Furious", and who is his boss now?

Another Anonymous

The Hunter said...

"Who was O'Reilly's boss during "Fast and Furious", and who is his boss now?"

I'm a little hazy on the intermediaries, but the last two links in the chain of command are that fellow President Barack Obama, and then his boss the American People. I'm kinda thinking that in order to get to the bottom of this, that Obama fellow needs to take a little time off from his campaigning vacation and answer a few questions.

Sedition said...

"I'm shocked! Shocked! To find gunwalking going on here!"

Yea. This is my shocked face...

Anonymous said...

I'll bet anything that the charges against New Deal Firearms in Deming, NM are related to this mess....

Good folks sitting in jail, without bail, due to an ATF vendetta...

Anonymous said...

This is The United States of America! The leader of the free world! The last remaining superpower on earth! We have the finest liars money can buy!