BATFE camouflage

Yesterday, I received a response to a letter I wrote in April to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The Obama administration (Himself, Holder and Hillary included) and various Mexican authorities had then been actively lying about the number of firearms used by drug criminals in Mexico which could be traced to the United States.

They repeatedly claimed the number was north of 90% of all guns seized. In fact, that percent relates only to the guns given by the Mexicans to BATFE for tracing. In other words, guns the Mexicans already were pretty sure came from the US turn out to be 90% from the US. The rest they don’t send to BATFE.

There is much uncertainty about how many guns, in total, the Mexican authorities confiscate in raids and in the aftermath of gun battles with drug dealers, because the Mexican authorities do not provide any data. The letter I received from BATFE said BATFE had no idea about the total number, and confirmed that the +90% only applied to the weapons the Mexicans submitted for tracing. This I already knew.

You can find my April letter here, but I think the context and central content are obvious in the letter I mailed to BATFE today, as is the deficiency of BATFE’s response:


Assistant Director
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
Office of Public and Governmental Affairs
99 New York Ave. NE
Mail Stop 5S144
Washington, DC 20226

Mr. [name],

I am in receipt of your letter dated 22-June-2009, a response to my inquiry of 20-April-2009. The information was not helpful and I do need further assistance. [He asked me to let him know.]

In my April 20th letter, I asked for specific information about the sources of US firearms submitted to BATFE for tracing. You indicate that you have no information about “the total number of firearms seized by government authorities in Mexico.” Thank you for letting me know that cannot answer that question, but I did not ask it.

What I did ask, and what has not been answered, regards information you certainly have.

What are the various sources in the United States of those firearms submitted by Mexican authorities to the BATFE for tracing? That is, of the submitted firearms you have, or have had, in your possession – where in the US did they come from?

I specifically inquired about the following: “Which of these weapons can be traced to official aid provided by the United States to Mexico? That is, which, if any, of these firearms were legally imported by Mexico from United States law enforcement or military sources, or other government departments or programs?

I assume that such transfers from law enforcement or military sources in the United States will have been precisely documented.

In addition, can you provide a breakdown by type of weapon? Handguns vs long guns and the number of semi-automatic, automatic and other types would be extremely helpful.”

I think it is obvious to both of us that you have this information, since you have had the firearms in question in your possession for the purposes of tracing them.

Thank you in advance,

I did say in April that I would keep you posted. If anyone out there has tips on effective FOIA filing, I would be interested. I suspect I may need it.

1 thought on “BATFE camouflage”

  1. In the period 1995-1999 one could initiate a FOIA request by letter that specifically identified it as such. Also required is a detailed description of the information requested. One must balance having it broad enough yet specific. Since the guvment can charge you for fulfilling your request, it was also advisable to specify a not to exceed charge or ask for an estimate of the cost.I have not done one in ten plus years; procedures, rules, and even the law may have changed. YMMV.