Comment(s)

U.S. law enforcement officials have devised an aggressive and potentially controversial new strategy to crack down on the illegal gun trade to Mexico by targeting cartel networks inside this country and “corrupt” U.S. firearms dealers, according to internal Justice Department documents obtained by NBC News.

The documents also state that the drug traffickers appear to have expanded efforts to acquire firepower in the U.S. by tapping well-developed supply networks beyond the Southwest border region in order to acquire high-powered assault rifles as well as components for improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

The new strategy was prepared in recent weeks by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF)’s Office of Field Operations, in the wake of stinging criticism of current ATF efforts to stem the flow of weapons to the cartels by the Justice Department’s inspector general.

Labeled “law enforcement sensitive,” it calls for ATF agents to put more emphasis on monitoring the activities of U.S. guns stores and other federally licensed firearms dealers who may be assisting or turning a blind eye to gun purchases by drug cartel operatives.

The report describes such “corrupt” U.S. firearms dealers as “high value targets” — a phrase that could rile gun rights groups and their supporters in Congress who charge ATF is already too aggressive in regulating the firearms industry.

The principal thrust of the revised strategy directs that ATF agents focus on taking down the operations of high-level gun traffickers working for specific Mexican cartels rather than simply trying to arrest low-level “straw buyers,” as they have often done in the past. It also calls on agents to use more sophisticated investigative methods, such as analyzing financial and telephone records, routinely used in terrorism and organized crime cases, and to work more closely with other federal agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Source: Michael Isikoff for MSNBC.

Up Next

Missile-killing interceptors eyed by Israel, U.S.

U.S. law enforcement officials have devised an aggressive and potentially controversial new strategy to crack…