COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- A special agent for the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tabacco, Firearms, and Explosives) in Colorado Springs has resigned after 18 years of service. In his resignation letter obtained by 13 Investigates, Brandon Garcia says he cannot support the way criminals are being handled by the current government.
The ATF is a federal law enforcement agency within the Department of Justice. ATF has a field offices in Denver and Colorado Springs.
ATF says they "protect our communities from violent criminals, criminal organizations, the illegal use and trafficking of firearms, the illegal use and storage of explosives, acts of arson and bombings, acts of terrorism, and the illegal diversion of alcohol and tobacco products."
Garcia, who according to his resignation letter has served in law enforcement for 18 years, has concerns about the over 5,000 ATF agents nationally.
"The last time morale was this low with ATF was probably 2013-2016," Garcia said. "Over the last couple of years, ATF has been spending a significant amount of time talking about and changing the course of this agency to focus on 'the gun'. Frankly, I don’t really care about investigating the gun, I care about investigating the criminal, and then plucking that criminal out of society."
Garcia said he became an ATF agent to make the streets of Colorado safer. He believes people take a career in law enforcement to protect law-abiding citizens.
"For at least the last decade, the government has focused on holding police accountable. I agree, that we do need to be held accountable. But everyone needs to be held accountable for their actions, not just the police. Who is holding the criminal accountable? Who’s holding the politicians accountable," Garcia questioned.
He says his belief is that law enforcement officers are often questioning their "use of force" in today's day and age. He worries that people expect words to stop violence. However, he says only violence stops violence when dealing with violent criminals, the resignation letter states.
"Violence is the only language these violent criminals understand. If you have not experienced that type of evil on the streets or while conducting your investigations, you are investigating the wrong people," Garcia said. "They are out there, and they will kill you without thinking twice."
The special agent says he agrees with the sentiment that gun crimes are "out of control." However, the letter states that he believes taking away citizens' guns will not help. Rather, he says democrat-led states are not holding criminals, who perpetuate gun crimes, accountable.
"Fewer and fewer defendants associated with gun crimes are actually sentenced to prison. Additionally, violent crimes committed with firearms are consistently pled down to non-violent crimes and the defendant again avoids prison," Garcia said. "If there is no consequence to committing a crime, then why would a criminal stop? If guns were banned, why would the criminals actually agree to abide by the law," he questioned.
In the letter, Garcia said he worries about the number of violent criminals being released from both state and federal custody.
"This year alone, our office has had more violent federal defendants released following their detention hearing than I have seen in my entire career. That is saying something because I have never had to fight so hard just to get violent offenders prosecuted," Garcia said. "Especially in the past two years, it seems like jails and prisons can’t let people out fast enough. I wonder why violent crime is up."
According to the Common Sense Institute, violent crime in Colorado in 2020 was 35% higher than in 2011. Additionally, the average monthly crime rate in 2021 is 28% higher than it was in 2011 and 15% higher than it was only two years ago in 2019 in Colorado.
"The problem is that we don’t hold criminals accountable for their actions anymore. I have spent the majority of my career working violent crimes. I learned a long time ago that you do not combat violent crime by seizing firearms; you combat violent crime by locking up violent criminals for a really long time," Garcia said. "Not just a really long time on paper, a long time behind actual prison bars; like we used to do it before legislators and members of the judicial system decided to neglect their oath."
Garcia said he knows ATF agents at the Colorado Springs office are doing all they can to deter violent crime and keep people safe. However, he says nowadays prosecuting criminals comes down to a "roll of the dice."
"Since I can no longer do this job the way I think it needs to be done and have the appropriate level of success, then it is time for me to fight this fight from a different angle," Garcia said in the letter.
ATF Denver Field Division Special Agent in Charge David S. Booth. issued this statement to 13 Investigates:
“Brandon Garcia served the ATF in a variety of roles and was an outstanding Special Agent and supervisor. I wish him well in his future endeavors, but he will be missed. Every day across our country ATF works diligently to combat violent crime. We do so by working within the scope of federal law and alongside prosecutors with a unified goal of holding accountable those who victimize our communities.”