Critic of Fast & Furious Now Heads Tucson ATF Office: Updated
Read the whole thing here.
A year ago, Carlos Canino testified before a U.S. House committee in Washington, D.C., about Operation Fast and Furious, passionately criticizing Arizona-based ATF agents for their actions.
Now he’s one of them.
Canino has moved from an attaché post at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City to a position heading the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ Tucson office. For Canino, who watched the reports of gun seizures from Arizona piling up in Mexico during 2009 and 2010, it is a chance to make amends for ATF’s past mistakes here.
“I requested to come here because the American people lost its trust in ATF in Phoenix,” Canino said in an interview in Tucson Friday. “I want to be on the ground floor to get the trust back.”
The Tucson office is a branch of the bureau’s field office in Phoenix, which oversees ATF operations in Arizona and New Mexico. Canino came in as part of an overhaul of the Phoenix division’s leadership after Operation Fast and Furious became a public scandal last year.
A 23-year veteran of the agency, 47-year-old Canino became known to the nation on July 26, 2011, when he lambasted the ATF Phoenix office’s performance in Fast and Furious, even as the supervisor of the operation sat nearby and tried to defend it.
Q: Is there any way to estimate the scale of the flow of guns from here in Southern Arizona to Mexico?
A: People say there’s 2,000 guns a day going across (from the United States to Mexico). How do they come to that figure? There is no baseline for that. It’s illegal to have a federal gun registry, so we don’t know.
So, when these people say 2,000 guns a day - or say, 10,000 - you don’t know. It’s impossible. That’s frustrating to me. It’s amazing to me what some people don’t know about the gun laws.
Q: What are some of the other things people don’t know?
A: Until just recently on the multiple purchase, people who bought two or more handguns in a five-day period, they (licensed dealers) had to fill out a form and notify ATF. For rifles, you didn’t have to do that. You could go into a gun store and buy 100 AK-47 variants. The only way we would know about that is when it turned up at a crime scene and we start tracing and find out that some guy bought a hundred of these a month and a half ago.
Now with this demand letter (a new requirement for licensed dealers to report multiple purchases of high-powered rifles made over a five-day period in the four border states) that’s helping out, frankly. Now we can get on these guys a lot faster. If somebody comes in and orders or buys multiple guns, we know about it right away. We can say, “Hey, not for nothing, but you’re a 19-year-old female on public assistance. Where did you get $28,000 to buy all these guns?”
There are more questions and answers at the link.
Gun dealers are complaining about the new scrutiny, but it seems pretty minimal to me, considering the potential consequences.
UPDATE, 7-10-12: The author of the article, Tim Steller, has put up a blog post, including more excerpts from the interview with Mr. Canino.
In Canino’s view — and he’s long been a teacher of ATF agents — if they’re done right, trafficking cases can go fast. What agents in Fast and Furious did wrong, Canino said in his testimony, is not intervene quickly against straw purchasers and turn them into witnesses against higher-ups.