03/09/11— The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), has come under scrutiny after the “Fast and Furious” program was discovered earlier this week. The Bureau is voicing complaints that U.S. ATF agents stationed in Mexico are at a disadvantage for a number of reasons, most notably because of a policy that prohibits agents from being armed. Rene Jacquez, a former ATF officer in Mexico City and deputy officer in Ciudad Juarez, said agents did not have the resources to capture gun smugglers. He criticized what he feels is the ATF’s lack of seriousness when dealing with Mexico.
Jacquez also spoke about the structure of the ATF in Mexico, especially in the number of staffers that are placed in each office, saying that some offices only had one agent, and sometimes this agent was not fluent in Spanish. He pointed out that each office should have at least four agents and one supervisor, which is not the case with most ATF offices located throughout Mexico. Due to the lack of staffers in each office, Jacquez remarks that agents are forced to do more paperwork and are not able to follow up on investigations.
The lack of staffers is related to the ATF’s struggle to recruit new agents, especially with the death of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent, Jaime Zapata, on February 15th in Mexico.There is a growing fear among agents of being placed in Mexico, especially when Mexico has a policy stating they are unable to arm themselves with weapons in most circumstances. Since the death of Jaime Zapata, this policy has been challenged. Jacquez states that the Bureau has not increased in size since its inception in 1972, which he seems to correlate with the lack of efficiency of the ATF in Mexico.