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Inside the ATF gun vault

Friday, January 25, 2013 - 7:10pm

The drug wars in Mexico require lots of money and lots of firepower.
The money comes from drug sales.
But a lot of the guns come from the United States and KETK’s Roger Gray visited the ATF Field Office in Dallas, and got a look at the arsenal.
The drug cartels in Mexico have turned that country into a battleground.
And the battles are being fought with weapons that have two traits the cartels like…high power and rapid fire.
This is the Federal Court building in Dallas, and inside are the offices of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
It’s their job to intercept illicit weapons going to the cartels in Mexico.
And today, we’re going to see them.
Robert Champion is the Special Agent in Charge for the ATF Dallas Field Division.
And he said, the drug lords like American guns.
"A large percentage of the traceable arms in Mexico, 70-90%, came from the United States,” he told us. “The AR and AK variants are still the favorite guns, just like they have been for 20-30 years."
And along the border, they’ll go to gun shops, gun shows, anywhere.
“Some people will buy one or two, maybe one, go to a different store and buy another one, maybe on a different day,” champion said. “They’ll go to different FFL’s or they’ll go to a gun show on a given weekend and buy guns there, either from an FFL or from a collector who is trying to get rid of his firearms.”
And the ATF and other agencies are hamstrung by one simple fact of life.
“Well, one of the things we struggle with is that there is not a firearms trafficking statute, making it illegal to traffic firearms. There’s no statute that exists at this point,” Champion said.
Then, they took me to the gun vault, and through lots of security.
I was signed in, and then the tour began.
The ATF is undermanned…
"We have about 2500 agents nationwide,” Champion told us. “At one time there were more gun dealers than gas stations in the US."

And underfunded. Those are facts of life.
But so is the drug war, so, the work goes on.


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