Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) in Texas are receiving emails and phone calls from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) warning of people trying to acquire .50 caliber rifles and belt-fed firearms.
The ATF started emailing and placing calls to gun dealers in the Dallas and Houston areas, warning about attempts by straw purchasers to acquire high-powered weapons. According to one recorded phone call, the ATF believes that the cartels are behind the straw purchases and are “gearing up” for something over the next 60 days. The ATF agent did not give any specifics as to exactly what the cartels were planning. The email reads:
“(U) Law enforcement is advising Federal Firearms Licensees or expanding interest of criminal networks’ intention to utilize straw purchasers in acquiring large caliber firearms such as .50 caliber and/or belt fed rifles within the next 60 days. This activity is anticipated to occur throughout the entire State of Texas. Please contact your local ATF office if any suspicious, attempted or finalized purchases occur.”
The warning extends to all of Texas. The ATF asks any dealer to contact them immediately if there are any suspicious purchases. The ATF is playing their cards close to their chest.
It is unclear if the mentioned cartel action is expected in the United States or south of Mexico’s border.
The Circle of Trust
The situation reminds a lot of Texas FFLs of the Obama-era “Fast and Furious” gun-walking scandal. Former Attorney General Eric Holder authorized the sale of guns to the cartels in that operation. The idea was to track the weapons back to Mexico, but the Department of Justice (DOJ) lost track of the firearms. Cartels soon turned the guns on U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents, causing one officer working the border to lose his life.
U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was pursuing a group of armed robbers near the Nogales border when a man named Heraclio Osorio-Arellanes pulled out a firearm and fired at the agents. A bullet would strike Terry, killing him.
Mr. Terry was a Michigan native who always wanted to be a cop. He joined the Marines and then became a police officer. Terry felt that he could help more people by joining CBP. He excelled at his job and soon would be assigned to the CBP’s elite unit that deals with the most dangerous situations. The bullet that killed Terry was fired from a gun that the DOJ and the ATF let the cartels acquire through the Fast and Furious scandal.
Since the U.S. government has a history of using FFLs to arm the cartels, many FFLs in the Lone Star State are weary of helping the embattled Bureau. Right now, there is a lack of trust between gun stores and what they see as hostile entities trying to shut down their livelihood.
Some FFLs expressed concerns about the ATF targeting their gun shops if they do report a suspicious sale. The ATF and the Biden administration enacted a “zero tolerance” policy, which has seen FFL revocations hit record levels.
Right now, there is a trust issue between FFLs and gun shops. Instead of being a partner in the industry, under President Joe Biden, the ATF has taken an adversarial role. These conflicts hurt the ATF’s chances of stopping crime and are strengthening the Mexican cartels.
AmmoLand News asked the ATF to comment on the story, but the Bureau did not respond to our request by publicatio