Tag Archives: ATF

Reese Family Thanksgiving

Being Thankful for Less Pain

Barack Obama has nominated US Attorney for New Mexico, Ken Gonzales, to a lifetime appointment as a federal judge.  This nomination is particularly significant because Gonzales was the US Attorney who oversaw the investigation, arrest, and prosecution of the Reese family.  At the time of the Reese’s arrest, Gonzales had the audacity to release a statement saying, “Those who sell firearms knowing that they will be illegally smuggled into Mexico to arm Mexican Cartels share responsibility for the violence that has been devastating Mexico.”  So far, he has not called for the prosecution of any of the federal agents or administrators who oversaw Operation Fast and Furious.

Gonzales has much to be thankful for this season, but what about the Reese family?  For them, being thankful is a relative term.  The Reese family is thankful that, so far, the bad they’ve suffered has not been as bad as it could have been.  They have been so abused, harassed and persecuted that they feel thankful for the crumbs of “less bad” news that comes their way.  They’re thankful that federal agents arrested them while they were away from their home rather than taking them during the massive raid involving hundreds of officers, helicopters, and armored vehicles.  They were thankful last March when, after 8 months in jail, Terri Reese was released on bail to a halfway house.  They were especially thankful when youngest son, Remington was acquitted of all charges (after spending a year in jail), and they were thankful when Terri, husband Rick, and older son Ryin were cleared of all but one count each, two for Ryin, of the comparatively minor charge of lying on 4473s – even though the lies they were convicted of were perpetrated by federal agents and the Reeses’ crimes were that they “should have known” that the agents were lying.

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Reese Family Not Guilty on 24 of 28 Counts

Jury rejects Conspiracy,  Smuggling, and Money Laundering charges

           After almost a year in jail and a three week trial, a jury has declared the members of the Reese family to be not guilty on 24 of the 28 counts against them.  The jury did convict Rick Reese and his wife Terri on one count each of making false statements in connection with the acquisition of firearms.  Eldest son Ryin was convicted on two counts of the same charge, and younger son Remington was acquitted of all charges.  The convictions are expected to result in sentences of about one year for each count, but harsher penalties are possible.  Sentencing is scheduled for early October.  Rick and Ryin will stay in jail until then, but Terri will remain out on bail until sentence is passed.  Remington was released from custody at the conclusion of the trial.

As reported previously in this column, Rick Reese and his family ran a gun shop outside of Deming, New Mexico for over 17 years.  Over that time they built up the business into a profitable enterprise and Rick had planned to retire and close the store.  His son, Ryin, 24, was in the process of obtaining an FFL to open a store of his own in nearby Las Cruces.  In August of last year, local ATF agents asked the family to come down to their offices to discuss Ryin’s FFL application.  When the Reeses showed up at the ATF office, they were arrested on charges of conspiring to illegally sell firearms and assist in smuggling them to Mexico, money laundering (because the money paying for the guns was from illegal activities), and making false statements in connection with the acquisition of firearms – lying on the 4473.  Almost all of those charges were thrown out or returned as Not Guilty.

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Issa Threatens BATFE Head With Contempt Citation

Issa Threatens BATFE Head With Contempt Citation

Congressman Darrell Issa (R. CA) threatened Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives has threatened acting head Kenneth E. Melson with a contmpt citation for his failure to comply with a Congressional subpeona. 

“Let me be clear … we are not conducting a concurrent investigation with the Department of Justice, but rather an independent investigation of the Department of Justice – specifically, of allegations that the reckless and inappropriate decisions of Department officials have created a serious public safety hazard.”

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, in a letter yesterday to ATF Acting Director Kenneth E. Melson, threatened to bring contempt charges against him for refusing to produce documents subpoenaed by the committee last month. The subpoena was issued in response to ATF and DOJ officials stonewalled the “Project Gunwalker” investigation.

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“Gunwalker” Scandal Widens

ATF Scandal Widens

“Project Gunwalker” may have strolled from Arizona to Texas.
The gun that was used by a smuggler to kill ICE Agent Jaime Zapata
last month in Mexico has been traced to a Texas gun shop, where it was
purchased by suspected gun traffickers who had reportedly been under
ATF surveillance for over a year.

According to an affidavit in the arrest of alleged straw purchasers,
Otilio and Ranferi Osorio, and Kelvin Morrison, they had previously
sold 40 guns to a federal agent, but had not been arrested.

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New ATF Director?

The Knox Update

From the Firearms Coalition

Obama Attacks Gun Rights Again

By Jeff Knox

(Manassas, VA, 22 November 2010) President Obama has named yet another anti-rights extremist to a high government position – this time to a position directly overseeing, interpreting, and enforcing the nation’s gun control laws. Andrew Traver, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago branch of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) has been named to become the next Director of the troubled agency.

Traver, who has risen through the ranks at ATF over a 23-year career, is reputed to be well-liked by his peers and subordinates on a personal level, but not particularly respected for his effectiveness or management skills. The Traver appointment is seen as another example of President Obama’s hostility towards guns and gun owners, as Traver has a long history of opposition to individual rights and support for government restrictions on firearms.

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What ATF Stands For

ATF – Always Think Forfeiture

 

A very dangerous mindset was revealed recently when the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) filed an Invitation for Bids to purchase 2000 Leatherman multi-tools engraved with the words “ATF – Asset Forfeiture” and “Always Think Forfeiture.” (emphasis added)

Imagine you had a job picking up defective widgets and the definition of exactly what constitutes a defect is rather subjective.  You have the authority to simply dust off a widget that some might call defective and put it back, or you can pick up a widget that seems to be perfectly good and, by poking and prodding a bit, find some minor discrepancy that you can call a defect and drop that one in your bag.  Now imagine that you get paid a bonus and get brownie points based on the value of the widgets you collect and some of the widgets are made of lead while others are made of gold.  You’re supposed to be focused on finding and removing the widgets with the worst defects, but do you think you might be tempted to instead focus on the gold widgets?  Might you pass over seriously flawed lead widgets in favor of questionably flawed gold widgets? 

That’s basically the position the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives puts their agents in when they send them out to enforce firearms laws.  While the agency claims that they do not set quotas for their agents’ prosecutions, the agency uses successful prosecutions as the primary measure of their field agents’ performance.  Add to that the temptation of asset forfeiture – where the agency gets to keep seized assets and prosecuting agents get bonuses and “atta-boys” based on the value of assets seized – and there is clear potential for conflict of interest and abuse.

Is it possible that government enforcers would target a business or individual specifically because that entity had valuable assets that would be forfeited in a successful prosecution?  (And actually a prosecution can be unsuccessful and still result in forfeiture.)  If the agency gets to keep forfeited assets, use them to bolster their budget, and reward agents who successfully instigate actions that result in these windfalls, isn’t this creating conflict of interest and literally inviting abuse? 

Of course the ATF, like all other government agencies, is only interested in seeing that laws are obeyed and justice is done.  They would never seek to grow their agency just for the sake of growth and institutional ego or intentionally look for ways to pad their budget.  No doubt their focus in every investigation is always on finding criminal activity, stopping that activity, and bringing the perpetrators to justice.  If in that process, it turns out that the criminals have some ill-gotten gains that should be forfeited, it is only right that the agency and agents that successfully brought an end to the criminal enterprise should be rewarded…  They’re from the government and they’re here to help.

Update:  The original link disappered.  You can read the archived bid request and award announcement here.  

The contract was awarded to Freedom (sic) Enterprises of Spokane, Washington in the amount of $37,460.00.