Whistleblower Solutions Questions About ATF/DOJ Quick and Livid Malfeasance

Former ATF Agent Peter Forcelli IMG CSPAN Video c4354559

“ATF whistleblowers sound alarm on Biden admin proposal that successfully bans non-public gun gross sales,” Fox News reported in early February. “Watchdog group says alleged ATF proposal would ‘go after law-abiding residents for personal’ gun gross sales.”

One of many names within the story was acquainted, Pete Forcelli, a retired ATF deputy assistant director turned “whistleblower” and creator of The Lethal Path: How Operation Quick & Livid and Unhealthy Legal professionals Armed Mexican Cartels, scheduled to go on sale March 5, and accessible now for pre-order. AmmoLand will publish my evaluation of this e-book as a follow-up to this report.

The identify was acquainted as a result of each my colleague, the late Mike Vanderboegh, and I had written about Forcelli’s testimony again in 2011. It was the story of a person smuggling grenades throughout the border to the Mexican cartels the Division of Justice didn’t need to prosecute, and when it bought uncovered, tried throwing brokers beneath the bus.

“Three hours in the past the Wall Avenue Journal ran this, a narrative that David and I had been conscious of for a couple of week however had been requested to not point out,” Mike wrote on his Sipsey Street Irregulars blog. “David can have his personal story out tomorrow morning. Word that DOJ continues to be making an attempt to cowl up by blaming the brokers. Word additionally that they’re retaliating in opposition to Pete Forcelli.”

Mike and I weren’t solely able to go together with it (albeit unwilling to burn a supply and publish beneath a requested embargo), however after the mainstream press has been on it for days now, there was just one place internet hosting the letter (different tales solely talked about it) from the lawyer for the Federal Regulation Enforcement Officers Affiliation to Sen. Chuck Grassley and Rep. Darrell Issa detailing not simply the setup for the grenade operation, but in addition, and importantly, concerning the retaliation his ATF agent-client was subjected to by DOJ administration for testifying at a Home Oversight Committee listening to.

The column I wrote at the time is now solely retrievable by way of the Web Archive, so not solely is formatting a large number, however it could take eternally to load, and lots of the inner hyperlinks not work, together with the slideshow the place the letter was posted. Fortuitously, I saved the file and now have a copy posted at my War On Guns Placeholder site, the place it may be accessed and downloaded and hopefully seen by somebody with the assets to resume investigations.

With that as a backdrop, I used to be delighted when AmmoLand Editor-in-Chief Fredy Riehl requested me to interview Forcelli and evaluation his e-book, particularly since so lots of the characters showing in its pages had been DOJ and ATF functionaries Mike and I had written about, some many occasions. I discovered Pete, which is what he inspired me to name him, to be approachable and forthright.

He pledged from the beginning that no questions can be off limits. As soon as extra, the paradox arose as when Vanderboegh and I, each Second Modification purple meat absolutists, developed belief and respect for males you’d assume we’d be mortal enemies with. There’s no different option to clarify it than to say whereas we hoped the blokes who trusted us with data they freely offered would come to simply accept “shall not be infringed,” they every shared qualities as males that we got here to respect and admire: Private braveness and willingness to place their all on the road in opposition to the baddest of the dangerous, a way of obligation and honor, and utter candidness with no façade.

So Vanderboegh and I had been each gratified when Quick and Livid whistleblower John Dodson trusted our advice to speak with Sharyl Attkisson for her historic and Murrow Award-winning CBS Information interview and protection, which finally resulted in administration deciding she was now a legal responsibility to their agenda. I used to be genuinely honored when Jay Dobyns, the person who infiltrated the Hells’ Angels and lived to inform about it, made a particular journey to fulfill me and hear me speak. And I mourned the passing of the agent Vince Cefalu, a driving pressure behind the CleanUpATF web site, the place allegations of “walked weapons” first appeared, a person who by no means was afraid to name somebody he didn’t respect one thing I can’t repeat right here, and whose phrases to me beneath his autograph on RatSnakes meant loads about sentiments going each methods.

With preliminaries out of the best way, right here’s the Forcelli interview. I began with the query I figured most readers rolling their eyes at my final paragraph would in all probability need me to ask.


DC: Thanks for agreeing to reply all questions put in entrance of a readership that views “shall not be infringed” as a “hands-off” mandate to authorities. So let me get the hardest query out of the best way first: An commentary that Second Modification advocates are going to make is to problem the constitutionality of ATF and the “gun legal guidelines” it enforces to even exist within the first place, particularly now contemplating the Supreme Courtroom’s Bruen resolution invalidating legal guidelines not supported by textual content, historical past, and custom within the time of the Founders. How do you reply?

PF: I perceive their view and I do know that I’ll by no means have the ability to change the minds of some people who assume that each one people who work for ATF are evil individuals who don’t help the Second Modification. I grew up in a reasonably dangerous neighborhood in Yonkers, New York. The realm was very ethnically various, and my household was one in every of a couple of half-dozen white households left there. The neighborhood had a luncheonette and a gun retailer—Agramonte Arms—which had been among the many final of the companies owned by the identical people who had been there when my household moved in. I virtually grew up in that gun retailer and the parents who labored there handled me like household.  I at all times appreciated weapons, though I’m positive I don’t know as a lot about them as a few of your readers or a few of my colleagues at ATF, who might let you know the place a gun was made by the proof marks stamped onto it.  I by no means grew up eager to be an ATF Agent.  I grew up eager to be a cop and, hopefully, in the future, a murder detective. I grew to become a cop in New York Metropolis at age twenty, and by age twenty-seven, I used to be a detective. New York had a few of the most restrictive gun legal guidelines within the nation, and whereas I didn’t agree with them, I noticed that the New York prison justice system was a joke. Criminals pled their circumstances down; few actually violent individuals went to jail, and those that did hardly ever stayed there very lengthy. My final state homicide case that went to trial was the homicide of a four-year-old boy named Joseph Dauphin. After trial, his killer was sentenced to 4 years in a New York Jail.

In 1997, I used to be assigned to a federal job pressure and was assigned to work with ATF on a case in opposition to a gaggle referred to as “Intercourse, Cash, Homicide,” which was a faction of the Bloods avenue gang. The primary man we locked up was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was sentenced to 4 years in jail. The chief, who was amongst 51 members we charged, was sentenced to life-plus 105 years in solitary confinement on the Supermax. It was this consequence that led me to hitch ATF, not any kind of need to infringe on the rights of trustworthy Individuals who personal weapons. I feel most individuals who be a part of ATF achieve this for comparable causes. I labored with DEA Brokers, and lots of had been good guys, however their work was largely wire-tap-driven. I hate wiretaps, and I feel they’re overused and infrequently abused. I labored with FBI Brokers within the job pressure, too. Some had been actually good guys, however a variety of them had been pompous, smug, tight-asses who had been nearly cult-like of their organizational satisfaction for “The Bureau.” I couldn’t survive that atmosphere. For probably the most half, the ATF Brokers had been common people who simply needed to place violent individuals in jail. Throughout my time with ATF, I solely know of two who I’d describe as anti-gun: Dave Chipman and Mark Jones (there are a couple of Mark Joneses – however solely one in every of them matches this invoice).  You’d be shocked about what number of ATF Brokers have a love-hate relationship with the company. They love the mission of going after armed, violent criminals, however they hate the politics of the company.

DC: A recurring media meme is that Operation Quick and Livid was a “botched gun sting.” If no try was made to trace weapons as soon as they’d “walked” throughout the border, how was that not deliberate, with concerned ATF personnel and administration realizing full properly a portion would find yourself being recovered at violent crime scenes? And the way did that not serve the needs of these demanding stricter gun legal guidelines right here?

PF: I by no means understood why some people within the media referred to as it a “botched gun sting,” similar to I by no means understood why people referred to as it a “program.” It was a case that spiraled uncontrolled and had completely nothing to do with “Huge Receiver,” which was one other catastrophe, however they weren’t linked or a part of a program. “Quick and Livid,” which, as you already know, was truly referred to as Jacob Chambers et. al, ought to have been a easy, straw buy case. The straw purchasers ought to have been charged early on, and in the event that they had been, the gun that killed Brian Terry would have by no means crossed over-the-counter of the gun retailer. As an alternative, they determined to let the straw purchasers proceed to buy firearms, realizing that the weapons had been turning up in Mexico as a result of they someway believed that the traces from Mexico might someway tie this case into a much bigger conspiracy and consequence within the takedown of a cartel-driven firearms community. The weapons crossing the border was deliberate, in that they knew the weapons had been being traced from areas in Mexico, however they continued to let the gross sales proceed—EVEN AFTER a number of FFLs mentioned they didn’t need to promote to those straw consumers anymore. Brokers from that group and Emory Hurley, the lead prosecutor within the case, met with the FFLs and informed them to maintain promoting to them (mockingly, a few of these people are being sued by Mexico for doing precisely what they had been informed to do by ATF and the USAO).  What’s most complicated to me is that for years, we had been informed that when the firearm crossed the border, the Corpus Delecti (physique of the crime) crossed the border the case couldn’t be prosecuted, after which in a single day, the identical prosecutors are quarterbacking this case, and the weapons are purposefully being allowed to cross the border?  It was astounding to me.  I used to be not aware of what was mentioned on the conferences concerning the case particularly in both Phoenix or DC, however within the basic supervisory conferences that I did attend, there was dialogue about how “Operation Quick and Livid” was a justification for the implementation of “Demand Letter #3”—The a number of sale type requirement for rifle purchases in Border States.  Fairly appalling, huh?  Brian Terry lifeless. Jaime Zapata lifeless. Numerous Mexicans lifeless. However they carried out a type…

DC: FFLs had been pressured to permit what they knew to be “straw purchases” to undergo, even over objections at occasions. You admit within the e-book how a lot they’re “wanted and trusted.” Care to touch upon how ATF’s present “zero tolerance” crackdown on them stifles any “partnership” incentive they must cooperate past what’s required?

PF: Identical to the outdated males that labored at Agramonte Arms the place I grew up, the FFLs in Phoenix had been good individuals (besides one you’ve examine in my e-book). They referred to as us EVERY time they suspected a straw buy or a criminal offense was going down. Ninety % of the circumstances in my group got here from them.  In fact, there have been straw purchases that will often occur that we weren’t referred to as, and generally these weapons would get smuggled to Mexico, however a straw buy is an act of deception in addition to a criminal offense, and in contrast to the media, we by no means blamed the sellers for what they DIDN’T know.  After they referred to as us, we responded and did what cops do.  We stopped the straw consumers, requested probative questions and seized the illegally bought weapons and really useful expenses.  ATF’s zero-tolerance crackdown on FFLs is an absolute betrayal of belief, for my part, akin to leaving a person behind.  Former ATF Director B. Todd Jones after which Appearing Director Tom Brandon used to publicly say, “The FFLs are our first line of protection within the battle on gun violence.”  As soon as they left, the company fell into the palms of people that had been extra involved with activism and fewer involved with what most ATF Brokers cared about—placing criminals in jail. The present Director, Steve Dettelbach, is a device for the gun management foyer. He doesn’t have the arrogance of the rank and file. For the primary time, ATF is having a retention subject as brokers go away for different businesses and that scares me.  Who replaces the brokers that joined for the precise causes?  Most brokers are pro-gun. Will the brand new ones share these views?

DC: You discuss in your e-book about creating credible proof solely to have U.S. attorneys deny doing something with it and forbidding additional use of intelligence sources.  Why do you imagine they did that?

PF: Now, that is the query for the ages. I want, after reflecting on this for over a decade, that I knew the reply to this query. In addition to Phoenix, I’ve labored with U.S. Legal professional’s Workplaces in New York, South Florida, Puerto Rico, and the USVI.  All had been just a little completely different, and a few had been extra aggressive than others, however what I noticed in Phoenix shocked me (as you’re seeing within the e-book). I can solely say that I imagine that workplace had a tradition of laziness and ineptitude, primarily in its Gun Unit.  We used to joke that they had been extra afraid of courtrooms than they had been of criminals.  After Brian Terry’s dying, that joke wasn’t as humorous to us.

DC: Earlier than Border Patrol agent Brian Terry’s homicide was the catalyst for exposing “gunwalking,” the Justice Division made an enormous media deal saying vital stimulus cash for Venture Gunrunner to ostensibly cease firearms trafficking to Mexico. What’s your sense that Phoenix ATF administration was pressured/motivated to encourage weapons to “stroll” to provide outcomes and win recognition, favor, and profession development from HQ?

PF: Once more, that is the place politics get muddy.  Venture Gunrunner was funded as a result of a push from Senator Bingaman from NM, partially after he despatched employees to look at our work at each the “Crossroads of the West” gun present and responding to these calls from FFLs. (Crossroads administration, just like the FFLs we handled there in Phoenix, had been good Individuals, involved with public security—stable people). That funding was then used to create many places of work and to rent ATF Brokers. The Yuma ATF workplace, for instance, was created with Gunrunner cash however had NO function in Operation Quick and Livid or any of that nonsense.  Blaming Gunrunner was a means for the left to attempt to say that “Operation Quick and Livid” was someway tied to “Huge Receiver” and, subsequently, was actually Bush’s fault.  Phoenix VII, which conceptualized, began, and ended “Quick and Livid,” didn’t even exist till Obama was president. Obama was the captain of the ship; he simply didn’t need to personal the error, in order that they pointed fingers again in time.

DC: It’s evident from former Legal professional Basic Eric Holder’s contempt of Congress cost that official coverup and stonewalling went to the very high. How excessive up did the precise operational path of Quick and Livid go earlier than it was uncovered?

PF: The true “operational management” remained in Phoenix, however there was consciousness all the best way as much as Holder, and I’ve been informed (again then) the White Home. How a lot and what they knew, I can’t precisely say as a result of even in Phoenix, these of us who weren’t concerned in that case didn’t know they had been strolling weapons till after Brian Terry was murdered and John Dodson referred to as Grassley’s Workplace.  A lot of the brokers in Phoenix initially thought John was filled with shit as a result of what these people had been doing was so taboo that we simply couldn’t fathom that it was occurring and that each Invoice Newell and George Gillett condoned it.  It was like a shockwave hit the sphere division, and the reactions had been visceral.

DC: What are you able to inform us about ATF’s Mexican attaché and Mexican legislation enforcement being intentionally omitted of the data loop on “gunwalking”?

PF:  ATF’s Attache was by no means informed about what was occurring with Quick and Livid. Initially, the attaché was a man named Darren Gil.  He and Newell despised each other, and it didn’t assist that if Operation Quick and Livid didn’t blow up of their faces that Invoice Newell was mentioned to be slated to interchange him because the Attache.  They accredited sending Invoice down there as an SES, whereas Gil was a GS-15 worker.  Gil left Mexico and Carlos Canino was appointed to interchange him briefly.  Carlos is old style (he testified as a whistleblower within the second spherical of hearings).  Carlos was buddies with the Mexican Legal professional Basic, and he was telling her all alongside that the concept of strolling weapons was bullshit.  Like most of us, he didn’t imagine it.  Carlos got here as much as Phoenix for the arrests within the “Quick and Livid” case and when he learn the Operational Plan and noticed that weapons truly walked, he actually grew to become bodily unwell.  He pulled me apart and flew off the deal with. He needed to strangle Newell as a result of he informed me “Pete. I’ve been telling the Mexican AG that that is bullshit and that ATF walks weapons.  She’s a pal, and she or he respects us, and now I’ve to go and inform her that I used to be fallacious.”  As for Mexico, they didn’t inform Mexico, and we even had a Mexican PGR prosecutor who had an workplace INSIDE of the Phoenix ATF Workplace that Newell organized to deliver up.  All they needed to do was actually knock on his door.  He was ultimately thrown out of the workplace house for misconduct unrelated to F&F.  It pertained to porn on his Mexican government-issued laptop… No marvel zero individuals had been prosecuted in Mexico for his or her function in operating straw purchaser networks…

DC: Give us a synopsis of the Max Kingery grenade case and why the U.S. Legal professional didn’t need to prosecute it though you’d handed him irrefutable, stable proof.

PF: After I inherited the Yuma Group from Rene Jacquez, Jean Baptiste Kingery had beforehand been referred for prosecution for straw buying a couple of weapons, however that case was declined for prosecution by the Phoenix USAO—Tracy Van Buskirk and Emory Hurley.  We had been tipped off that he was shopping for inert grenades at an Military Navy retailer by the storeowner who discovered him to be suspicious and once we seemed into him we came upon he was shopping for a whole bunch of grenade elements from many elements of the US. We labored that case for a protracted, doing intensive surveillance, interviewing household and associates, and eventually figuring out that he was taking the inert grenade elements into Mexico and turning them into IEDs.  We met with Emory and Tracy a number of occasions and we believed we had sufficient to arrest him.  They disagreed, and in contrast to lots of the gun smuggling circumstances we labored, there have been no underlying state expenses that we might search via both the county or state lawyer’s places of work.  The one doable cost would have been a violation of the AECA if he crossed the border, or an NFA cost if he possessed ALL of the supplies wanted to make the grenades into reside grenades within the USA.  Emory Hurley, the chief of the USAO gun unit, hated this case. He actually mentioned, “The protection might simply say that their consumer in making these hilarious ‘criticism department-take a quantity’ novelty desk objects” after which put that very same language in an e-mail to his boss. He additional opined that the case had “No jury enchantment.”  When Kingery bought caught crossing into Mexico on the “San Luis Rio de Colorado” POE with 114 disassembled grenades hidden in his tire by a CBP x-ray machine, a bomb squad was referred to as, and the port shut down in plain view of the Plaza Bosses, he was interviewed by my brokers and HSI Brokers (then nonetheless beneath ICE).  He gave an in depth confession, stating that he was making grenades for the Sinaloa cartel for years and taking the AK-47 variant and AR-15 platform rifles and changing them into machineguns in Mexico.  We had been informed by Emory to let him go and that they’d contemplate indicting him in a few weeks. It was probably the most disgusting factor I’ve seen to at the present time, in 35-plus years of legislation enforcement.  I even referred to as prosecutors in NYC who had been doing a case on the Sinaloans to see in the event that they’d cost him, however they didn’t have venue—however they did say they might if we might discover it.  We additionally referred to as the parents in Mexico (each ATF and Mexican intelligence people) who we labored with to see if they may cost him so we wouldn’t must let him stroll out the door. Kingery himself requested us to cost him, saying that the cartel knew he was arrested and he’d have issue explaining why he wasn’t charged.  We had no alternative however to let him go and as you already know the e-book goes into a lot higher element on this and his eventual arrest.  Why Emory wouldn’t cost him?  God and Emory solely know.

DC: What was the ultimate straw so that you can resolve you needed to change into a whistleblower? And what was it about company whistleblower protections constructed into the legislation that made you resolve you wanted the additional safety of the Senate?

PF: For practically three years after my arrival in Phoenix, my brokers labored with FFLs to cease a variety of weapons that had been headed to Mexico. 1000’s of recoveries and lots of circumstances referred for prosecution, about 90% of which had been declined or simply sat ready for a choice.  Not weapons going to hunters, goal shooters, or people who needed to train their proper to bear arms, however cartel assholes who had been butchering different human beings… All these declinations after which as a supervisor’s assembly, Invoice Newell talked about that the USAO was pissed off at John Dodson for blowing the whistle and contacting Grassley’s Workplace, including I’d steer clear from Dodson if I had been you. He’s in all probability going to get indicted.  That was the straw.  I didn’t even know John Dodson and wasn’t even positive if I had ever met him in passing, however the thought that dozens and dozens of criminals bought a move and so they had been even considering indicting John as a bridge too far.  Approach too far.  That following morning, I referred to as Grassley staffer Brian Downey.  I saved the Senate staffers shut as a result of I had met Jay Dobyns (mockingly, the night time I spoke to Downey), and I realized what he went via for blowing the whistle on some ATF managers.  I wasn’t solely doing that. I blew the whistle on Federal prosecutors all the best way as much as the US Legal professional himself and folk in Major DOJ.

DC: Plenty of the “gamers” accountable for Quick and Livid, for turning a blind eye to it, and for retaliatory actions, have gone on to both retire or stay in place, with a few of the notable ones even promoted. With the slayings of Brian Terry, ICE agent Jaime Zapata, and untold estimate a whole bunch of Mexican nationals utilizing “walked” weapons, how is it nobody in authority accountable for engineering ongoing slaughter is behind bars?

PF: That’s a very good query. I do know that the Division of Justice’s Workplace of the Inspector Basic investigated them and so they had the facility to advocate expenses, however that will require DOJ to prosecute the case.  Folks going through jail time converse up. It was simpler to bury them in jobs elsewhere.  Some people had been truly fired, however the ones with the bloodiest palms remained—some are nonetheless there.

DC: The Arms Export Management Act mandates any one that willfully violates its provisions “shall upon conviction be fined for every violation no more than $1,000,000 or imprisoned no more than ten years, or each,” and additional consists of provisions for “principals” who “induce” or “willfully trigger” offenses. How does that not apply to Quick and Livid?

PF: It ought to have. Once more, it will have needed to be prosecuted by the DOJ, and I’ve realized that the DOJ does what it desires, and it crushes those that dissent or converse up.


I might have gone on with lots extra questions primarily based on all of the reporting Vanderboegh had finished, however the task right here was to conduct an interview, not write a e-book. Talking of that, I’ll come again and replace this report with a hyperlink to my evaluation of Forcellis’ The Lethal Path when it’s been posted.

Spoiler alert: Purchase it.


About David Codrea:

David Codrea is the winner of a number of journalist awards for investigating/defending the RKBA and a long-time gun proprietor rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament. He blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” is a usually featured contributor to Firearms News, and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.

David Codrea



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Whistleblower Answers Questions About ATF/DOJ Fast and Furious Malfeasance is written by David Codrea for www.ammoland.com

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