DeGuerin said despite years of supplying tips to the ATF, Carter's Country employees were accused of "being in league with, in other words, conspiring with the straw purchasers and it simply wasn't true."
DeGuerin prepared a chart that responded to investigators' questions about 16 specific gun sales that took place during the ATF's Houston operation.
"On each and every one of them, we had the date and time and the manner in which the ATF had been notified," said DeGuerin, who allowed Local 2 to view the chart. DeGuerin declined to allow Local 2 to copy the chart, citing personal information of Carter's Country employees.
DeGuerin said at his insistence, the U.S. Attorney's Office and an ATF agent involved in the investigation met with him and Carter's Country's owners. DeGuerin said during the meeting, he presented the chart of information regarding the 16 suspicious gun sales. DeGuerin said "pretty promptly" after that meeting he received a letter from the U.S. Attorney's Office stating the investigation into Carter's Country was being dropped.
"I don't believe the ATF agents involved or even their supervisors were being honest with the U.S. Attorney's Office," said DeGuerin. "They tried to cooperate with ATF. It got them nothing except attorney's fees and a tarnished reputation for these people that have been in business for 50 years."
When asked about that meeting, ATF officials said they had not seen the chart and had not been able to obtain a copy.
However, an ATF spokesperson told Local 2 they never denied Carter's Country had always been extremely cooperative with the ATF before and during the Houston investigation.
"They constantly provided us information, but sometimes the information would come in one hour after a sale and sometimes the information would come in seven days after a sale. There was one time during the investigation they called us in enough time to actually get an agent to a store in time to track the buyer," the spokesperson told Local 2.
ATF officials did admit the federal investigation soured its relationship with Carter's Country and "damaged the reputation" of the ATF's Houston office with other gun dealers in the area.
In addition to the meeting, ATF officials provided Local 2 with a written statement in response to direct questions as to whether the tactics being scrutinized in Arizona were used during the Houston investigation.
"It is the priority of the ATF Houston Field Division to stop all firearms trafficking to Mexico. We have never knowingly allowed firearms to be diverted to Mexico and we work closely with licensed dealers to prevent this from happening," wrote an ATF spokesperson.
DeGuerin said this was not the end of the questions. DeGuerin said he and Carter's Country owner, Bill Carter, traveled to Washington, D.C., at the request of congressional staffers and attorneys looking into the Fast and Furious operation.
DeGuerin said Carter recounted his relationship with the ATF during the Houston investigation. DeGuerin said he also gave attorneys for the "minority and majority" a copy of the same chart he shared with the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Local 2 requested to speak with congressional leaders regarding the allegations lodged by Carter's Country.
A spokesperson for the House Oversight Committee sent Local 2 the following written statement.
"Anytime guns are put into the hands of known criminals is clearly a catastrophe. What happened in Houston was an egregiously reckless act. Unfortunately, people pay with their lives when the basic foundation of the ATF rulebook -- don?t let guns walk -- is disregarded in favor of controversial methods. Going forward, we?re expecting the Justice Department to provide our Committee with the information we need to conduct our investigation."
Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, ranking member of the Senate committee on the Judiciary sent a separate statement to Local 2.
"Knowingly allowing guns to be purchased by straw buyers and then transferred to third parties is wrong no matter how you cut it. Whether it?s one or 1,800, the ATF?s actions in Houston and Phoenix were reckless and ill-advised. The Justice Department and the ATF need to come clean, accept responsibility, and provide honest, straightforward answers from here on out."