Inside Story – How US Agents Paid A Gun Dealer To Send Weapons to Mexico

By Paul M. Barrett
Author of the new book GLOCK: The Rise of America’s Gun

Mike Detty, Owner Mad Dawg Global Marketing - Image: Thomas Prior, Businessweek
"I tried to do the right thing. I took a risk letting these dirtbags into my house. It turns out there never was a plan to trace the guns to Mexico. Mike Detty, Owner Mad Dawg Global Marketing - Image: Thomas Prior, Businessweek
AmmoLand Gun News
AmmoLand Gun News

USA –-( With all the fuss about Fast and Furious -much of it hyperbole and posturing- the readers of might like some fresh information gathered on the ground in Phoenix and Tucson.

With all due immodesty, I offer my recent profile of the gun dealer who served as a confidential informant for the ATF in the precursor to Fast and Furious, an equally bone-headed investigation called Wide Receiver (when will federal police agencies stop giving their operations dumb names that sound so embarrassing in retrospect?).

This confidential informant, Mike Detty, a longtime FFL based in Tucson, told me a hair-raising story that ended with his falling out with the ATF and deciding that he should bring the whole sordid situation to light.

Good for him, I say.

I heard that Mike was ready to talk from a mutual acquaintance, Jim Shepherd, the publisher and editor of The Outdoor Wire.

Here’s a link to my piece for Bloomberg Businessweek magazine, where I am Assistant Managing Editor and a Senior Feature Writer:

(Yes, that Bloomberg. The mayor owns, among many other properties, the finest business magazine on the planet, for which I’m proud to work. Give Businessweek a look sometime, regardless of your opinion about Mike Bloomberg’s views on gun control.)

There are a couple of lessons to be learned from my reporting in Arizona:

  1. The ATF’s performance was every bit as bumbling and pathetic as it appears from afar. I, for one, do not think there was any vast conspiracy to ship guns to Mexico as a way to lobby for a renewed assault weapons ban. What unfolded in southern Arizona was incompetency wrapped in stupidity and tied up with a bow of lack of adult supervision. You can draw your own conclusions from my shoe-leather reporting.
  2. Detty’s account, which I corroborated with court documents and other interviews, contradicts the widely circulated myth that when the ATF allowed guns to “walk” during the Bush administration, they somehow did it in a more responsible way. False! Detty authoritatively explains that back in 2006 and 2007, when he was at the center of Wide Receiver, and privy to all of its ugly details, the ATF was NOT tracking the contraband guns any more closely than they did during Fast and Furious. In other words, this was a fiasco from start to finish, not a competent investigation that evolved into something nefarious only when President Obama took office. The same local ATF guys were involved throughout.
  3. Something my reporting does NOT shed light on: The allegations that the main Justice Department in Washington “covered up” what had happened in Arizona, once ATF whistleblowers began sounding off. My work was confined to the Southwest.

We’ll all have to keep an eye on what happens in Washington to determine what happened there.

GLOCK - The Rise of America’s Gun
GLOCK - The Rise of America’s Gun

PAUL M. BARRETT is an assistant managing editor at Bloomberg Businessweek. He is the author of American Islam: The Struggle for the Soul of a Religion and The Good Black: A True Story of Race in America. Barrett lives and works in New York City.

by Paul M. Barrett
Crown Publishers • On sale: January 10, 2012
Price: $26.00 hardcover • Pages: 304 • ISBN: 978-0-307-71993-5 or