Isaac Hernandez, a 25-year-old American citizen who had been living in Mexico, will spend the next six years in a federal prison contemplating the errors of his ways.
On July 11, 2022, Hernandez was stopped while southbound on I-35 heading toward the Laredo, Texas Point of Entry. Officials found 17 handguns in his car. Further investigation revealed that from Jan. 21, 2020 to July 11, 2022, Hernandez purchased 231 handguns – 9mms, .380s and .22s – which officials suspect he smuggled into Mexico.
Last week, U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez sentenced Hernandez to 80 months in prison for violating the Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act.
“Hundreds of firearms likely ended up in the hands of Mexican cartel members thanks to Hernandez’s firearms trafficking, only worsening the ongoing gun violence terrorizing the citizens of Mexico and the United States,” U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani said in an ATF press release. “He worked with a contact in Mexico who instructed him on the type and number of firearms to purchase. Hernandez’s actions exemplify why laws such as the Trafficking in Firearms Act are so important.”
Then, as you would expect, the ATF had to weigh in.
“This was a textbook case of trafficking firearms to Mexico,” ATF Special Agent in Charge Fred Milanowski said in the press release. “Firearms trafficking is illegal and immoral. Unfortunately, the consequences of a firearm illegally possessed in the United States and Mexico can cause danger and harm for decades. As demonstrated by this case, we will continue to investigate and prosecute gun traffickers who endanger the lives of law-abiding citizens in our communities.”
Illegal and immoral – danger and harm for decades? Okay, the Mexican drug cartels certainly pose a clear and present danger to the security of the United States, so arming them would be foolish and wrong. But SAC Milanowski never mentioned that there was a much larger firearms trafficking conspiracy that allowed thousands of firearms to walk across the border and end up in the hands of the drug cartels, including .50 sniper rifles, semi-automatic ARs, AKs and handguns of all types – a much more serious threat than Hernandez’s 9mms, .380s and .22s.
Operation Fast and Furious was a preposterous plan somehow concocted by ATF’s Arizona Field Office, which ran from 2006 to 2011, mostly in the Phoenix area. According to a series of emails, ATF officials “purposely allowed licensed firearms dealers to sell weapons to illegal straw buyers, hoping to track the guns to Mexican drug cartel leaders and arrest them.” None of the senior cartel members have ever been charged for possessing ATF’s guns.
Of the thousands of weapons ATF allowed to “walk” across the border, only 700 were ever recovered. One of the firearms was used in the 2010 murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, and others have shown up in crime scenes on both sides of the border. Hundreds of Mexican citizens have been wounded or killed by ATF’s guns.
None of this was mentioned in the recent release, but SAC Milanowski is certainly not alone in his misremembering. ATF has always had a selective memory. Their website devotes only one page to the agency’s deadly Waco fiasco, and there is no mention of either Ruby Ride or Randy Weaver.
Last month, U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) introduced the “Abolish the ATF Act of 2023.” Gaetz cited ATF’s recent pistol-brace rule, which could turn more than 40 million Americans into felons overnight, as his main reason for the bill, but those familiar with the agency know there is so much more.
As has been said many times before, no one makes a better case to abolish the ATF than the ATF.
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About Lee Williams
Lee Williams, who is also known as “The Gun Writer,” is the chief editor of the Second Amendment Foundation’s Investigative Journalism Project. Until recently, he was also an editor for a daily newspaper in Florida. Before becoming an editor, Lee was an investigative reporter at newspapers in three states and a U.S. Territory. Before becoming a journalist, he worked as a police officer. Before becoming a cop, Lee served in the Army. He’s earned more than a dozen national journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. Lee is an avid tactical shooter.