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Behind the Scenes at the ATF

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," April 21, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: You're about to see real firepower. A special agent with the ATF went "On the Record" in Arizona and took us behind the scenes at the dangerous crime war raging at the border.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VAN SUSTEREN: Where are we?

THOMAS MANGAN, ATF SPECIAL AGENT: Right now, you're in the Phoenix field division office in Phoenix, Arizona.

VAN SUSTEREN: I see Department of Justice, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, the explosive (ph) Phoenix field Division. So I should have figured it out, right?

MANGAN: Absolutely.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. What do we have here?

MANGAN: Greta, this is a sample of some of the seizures that we're seeing here -- sadly, too frequently -- here in Arizona. These guns and this ammunition was interdicted by ATF agents and law enforcement before it made it south of the border into Mexico to arm the cartels.

VAN SUSTEREN: About how many seizures do we see her? I'm going to go through all the different weapons and ammunition, but what does this represent, about how many seizures?

MANGAN: Sure. You're looking at representation of two different seizures. The ammunition and then these guns you see circling the table here was one seizure, which was purchased -- the ammunition was purchased at a local gun dealer here in town, 24,000 rounds of ammunition. And these guns were destined to go south to Mexico. Back here, you're noticing some of the AK-47 variants, and then the .50-caliber belt-fed ammo. These guns were interdicted in a storage locker in Yuma before they could have made it south into Mexico also.

VAN SUSTEREN: Now, 24,000 rounds of ammunition -- I'm just trying to understand the investigation. Was that done at one purchase?

MANGAN: Yes, it was one purchase. And we have a very good relationship with the gun dealers here in Arizona. That was obviously -- raised obvious suspicion, and they contacted local police and ATF, and a search subsequent to the arrest of the two individuals revealed these guns that they had secreted in their vehicle.

These are rifles, again, very modern, very expensive rifles. They go about $2,200 each. But again, price is not object to these cartel members. And you can notice, obviously, they wanted to deter the -- when these guys are recovered in Mexico. They had filed the serial numbers off the weapons.

VAN SUSTEREN: Every single one seems to have the serial (INAUDIBLE) One, two, three, four, five, six, seven -- they're all -- they're all serial numbers that have been...

MANGAN: Obliterated.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... obliterated. How do you know these were headed south?

MANGAN: Again, post-arrest statements, 20 years of experience here with ATF and 20 years of experience on the border and working trafficking investigations. They realized -- once we put our hands on them, they subsequently made statements and post-arrest statements admitting that these guns were going south into Mexico.

VAN SUSTEREN: What has the most firepower here? What's the -- is there a gun here that sort of is...

MANGAN: You know...

VAN SUSTEREN: ... more powerful than the rest?

MANGAN: You know, again, I think -- I think when you look at it just by ballistic -- ballistically, when you look at certain guns -- certainly, the ammunition that goes in here is a .50-caliber ammunition.

VAN SUSTEREN: (INAUDIBLE) belt.

MANGAN: Yes. This is -- this was seized in an investigation in a storage locker in Yuma, Arizona...

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN: ... far is Yuma from here, about?

MANGAN: It's probably three hours. It's over on the southwest corner of the state. This ammunition, 400 rounds of it -- there's 100 per belt -- were seized with along (ph) 48 assault rifles. These guns were purchased here illegally, trafficked to Yuma. They were being stored in a storage locker, waiting to be trafficked south of the border. Again, the unfortunate part was when we seized this, we didn't have the .50-caliber gun that went with -- that went to it. It was a tripod-mounted .50...

VAN SUSTEREN: Where is it?

MANGAN: It's in Mexico. During the course of our investigation, we were able to obtain video from the defendants that were actually shooting this gun with this ammunition, target practicing out in the desert. We know from the course of the investigation that that gun made it south of the border already.

VAN SUSTEREN: What is this gun?

MANGAN: This is a Barrett (ph) rifle.

VAN SUSTEREN: Where's it made?

MANGAN: It's made in the United States. The gun itself fires -- again, this -- it fires this round.

VAN SUSTEREN: At $5 (INAUDIBLE) I still haven't recovered from the $5...

MANGAN: But it fires from a magazine.

VAN SUSTEREN: So at least you keep your cost down if you can (INAUDIBLE)

MANGAN: But again, it's an effective -- primarily used by the military, by special forces.

VAN SUSTEREN: Our special forces?

MANGAN: Absolutely.

VAN SUSTEREN: Where did you get it?

MANGAN: Worldwide. This gun was -- this gun was seized here on a firearms trafficking case. The individuals had purchased it here in Arizona. It was intended to be trafficked through New Mexico to the Juarez cartel.

VAN SUSTEREN: How do you know that?

MANGAN: We know that through post-arrest statements. We know that through -- through our tracing of guns and other guns that were purchased like this that were recovered south in Mexico.

VAN SUSTEREN: Great. Well, let's go see some guns.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAN SUSTEREN: Coming up: How did Rod Blagojevich just lose $123,000? Well, as always, he is not keeping quiet about it. You will hear from Governor Blagojevich coming up.

But next: You just saw a table full of AK-47s and other weapons seized by the ATF. Next, we shoot them.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm going to do it again. (INAUDIBLE) Did I even hit the target this time?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAN SUSTEREN: We just showed you a huge pile of high-powered weapons seized near the border by the ATF. Now we are going to the firing range.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MANGAN: Aim that right in the middle of where you want to hit.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK, good.

MANGAN: You know, these guns -- we are seeing a lot of these guns coming from - any recovery south of Mexico are coming from Central America. These are true machine guns, so we are not seeing any of those guns being purchased here.

However, the one agent shooting the AK variant, many times those guns are converted, and they're easily converted, to fire full auto from a semi- automatic mold. So, again, it increases the lethality because they're able to spray.

And, again, why do they want these type of weapons? They want the high-powered weapons to penetrate and assassinate individuals that are driving in hard cars wearing body armor. And these rounds have no problem, as you can see, penetrating standard car door(ph).

VAN SUSTEREN: What about those vehicles that do have the -- armored vehicles? They're very expensive, I understand, but are they effective with this weapon, or not?

MANGAN: Again, certain vehicles are rated for different types of armor they have. But for, like, the Barrick 50, the 50 caliber round, it's a hot knife through butter. That round was designed to penetrate light armor.

So, as you'll see from the demonstration, it will have no problem penetrating two doors, two people wearing body armor, and going right out the other side -- again, an effective range in excess of a mile.

And, again, this is the type of fire power that you are seeing that is being recovered on a daily basis in Mexico, machine guns that are being sourced through Central America. But the predominant amount of weapons that we see are being purchased here and trafficked into Mexico.

MANGAN: Single shot. Here's -

(Gunfire)

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, so --

MANGAN: And, again, what do you see here. You're just looking at - it's just the soft body armor. You're looking at a ballistic vest. As you can see, no protection. It's a high-powered round.

Now, the military does possess body armor, so does law enforcement, that has ballistic plates to go with this. But, obviously, again, why do they want to have this type of fire power? They want high powered rounds to take on law enforcement and the military, and also rival members of the drug cartel and criminal organizations.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is this the most routine vest that police wear?

MANGAN: It varies. Certainly a lot of the smaller municipalities in Mexico don't even have body armor.

VAN SUSTEREN: Because this is of no value against these weapons. That's what I'm saying, what's the point?

MANGAN: Absolutely.

You're looking at a true military weapon that the agent was shooting. It was an M60 machine gun. Some of these guns are being recovered in Mexico. They are being sourced from Central America.

These types of military weapons are recovered on a weekly basis, specifically those types of machine guns. But, again, the predominant amount of firepower -- again, they want this type of weapons, they wan these type of high-powered rounds so they can take on law enforcement.

And, again, even a standard car door with a bulletproof vest offers zero protection.

(Gunfire)

VAN SUSTEREN: Incredible, is it not?

MANGAN: Yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: That's it goes right through the door?

MANGAN: Like a hot knife through butter. This, again no door -- you need to get behind a mountain or a building to be safe from this type of firepower.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Elbow tight. You should be ready to roll.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK. What am I pointing at? What do you want me to shoot at?

MANGAN: You can shoot at the silhouette target right there.

VAN SUSTEREN: Above the car door?

MANGAN: Above the car door. And then when you're ready, you can shoot into the vast, if you'd like.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK.

MANGAN: There you go.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right.

(Gunfire)

Going to do it again.

(Gunfire)

Did I get anything?

MANGAN: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)




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