WASHINGTON – Documents provided to Senator Chuck Grassley suggest that a gun purchased by George T. Gillett may have been found at the scene of a Mexican shootout between drug cartel members and the Mexican military. Gillett was the Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) during the Fast and Furious scandal, where the federal government allowed nearly 2000 guns to be bought by straw purchasers and transported across the Mexico-U.S. border.
The weapon apparently purchased by Gillett was recovered in the same area and on the same weekend as an AK-47 purchased by Uriel Patino was recovered. Patino was the most prolific straw purchaser in Fast and Furious, buying 720 guns under the federal government’s eyes.
The Firearms Transaction Record which suggests Gillett was the purchaser of the weapon is one of three such records in Gillett’s name which list a non-residential address. The Firearms Transaction Records list the addresses of the ATF office as well as a local shopping center. Using false home residences on Firearms Transaction Records is a felony. Jaime Avila, the straw purchaser of a gun found at the murder scene of Customs and Border Patrol Agent, was recently sentenced to 57 months in prison for using false addresses on the same form.
In a letter to the Department of Justice Inspector General, Grassley asked the IG to thoroughly investigate the matter. Grassley also has informed the ATF of the weapons that were apparently purchased by an employee, using false home residences, and are now being found in Mexico. Gillett is still employed by the ATF, despite being recommended for disciplinary action by the IG.
Here is a copy of the text of Grassley’s letter. A copy of the signed letter and attachments can be found here.
December 19, 2012
Via Electronic Transmission
The Honorable Michael E. Horowitz
Office of the Inspector General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530
Dear Inspector General Horowitz:
Your office recently completed a review of ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious (OIG report). That review specifically assessed the performance of each of the Department of Justice (Department) employees who were most involved in Fast and Furious.
One of those Department employees was former Phoenix ATF Assistant Special Agent in Charge George T. Gillett, Jr. Gillett oversaw Fast and Furious from October 2009 until April 2010. The OIG report “found Gillett’s supervision and judgment in Fast and Furious seriously deficient.” I understand from public reports that Mr. Gillett, along with other Department employees, is currently under review by ATF’s Professional Review Board (PRB) due to the OIG report.
While ATF’s PRB continues their review, other issues involving Mr. Gillett have come to my attention. My office recently obtained documentation that is troubling and raises many questions regarding Mr. Gillett’s actions during his time in Phoenix, Arizona.
Specifically, documentation appears to indicate that during Operation Fast and Furious, Mr. Gillett made multiple firearm purchases at a Federal Firearm Licensee (FFL) in Phoenix. According to the forms, Mr. Gillett appears to have purchased weapons on December 15, 2009, January 5, 2010, and January 7, 2010. Documents show the residence listed on the Firearms Transaction Record (Form 4473) for two of the gun purchases was the local Phoenix ATF office. For the third purchase, Gillett listed a commercial shopping center in Phoenix as his residence. Clearly, the addresses on the forms do not accurately and truthfully reflect Gillett’s actual residence in Phoenix.
Lying on a Form 4473 is a felony and can be punished by up to five years in prison, in addition to fines. Many individuals who were arrested in Fast and Furious were charged for lying on the Form 4473. Jaime Avila, Jr. recently plead guilty to a variety of charges, including making false statements in connection with the acquisition of a firearm, and his initial arrest just after Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s murder was for giving a false address on Form 4473.
One of the most troubling aspects of this new information is that one of the weapons listed as having been purchased by Gillett was recently recovered in Sinaloa, Mexico, the same weekend and in the same area as a shootout between the Mexican military and drug cartel members in Sinaloa, Mexico.
The January 7, 2010, purchase included an FN Herstal 57 Caliber pistol. According to documents, this weapon was recently recovered in an attempted homicide in between Caitime and Mocorito in the Guamuchil area of Sinaloa, Mexico. Mexico’s CENAPI requested the trace from ATF’s National Tracing Center on November 29, 2012, and an initial trace was completed on December 4, 2012. Another trace on the weapon was completed on December 10, 2012, indicating that the purchaser of the weapon was the former ASAC of ATF’s office in Phoenix, George Gillett.
Further, this weapon was recovered in the same area and on the same weekend as an AK-47 purchased by Uriel Patino was recovered in Ciudad Guamuchil, Sinaloa, Mexico. Patino was the most prolific straw purchaser in Fast and Furious, and records indicate that he purchased the AK-47 on March 16, 2010 from the FFL in Phoenix, Arizona referred to in your report as “FFL #1.”
On the same weekend these two weapons were recovered in the Ciudad Guamuchil area, ABC News reported on a gunfight in the same area between Sinaloa drug cartel members and the Mexican military. The gunfight claimed five lives, including a member of the Mexican military and a Sinaloa beauty queen, Maria Susana Flores Gamez. According to ABC News, near Gamez’s body, authorities found an AK-47 assault rifle and 60 shell casings.
In addition to my staff immediately contacting your office about these revelations, they have reached out to ATF as well. I request that you initiate an investigation into these matters and that you specifically examine whether Mr. Gillett was the purchaser as indicated by these documents, why the forms list multiple, inaccurate residential addresses while purchasing the weapons, and how the weapon purchased on January 7, 2010 ended up in Mexico. I have attached the referenced documentation to assist you in your investigation.
This information’s implications and its ability to undermine public confidence in the integrity of ATF operations cannot be overstated. Your office needs to work swiftly. There must be a thorough, independent, and public explanation of these circumstances as quickly as possible.
Should you have any questions regarding this request, please contact Brian Downey of my Committee staff at (202) 224-5225. Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Charles E. Grassley
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