|Posted by Matthew Jordan on July 26, 2011 at 11:17 AM|
The federal anti-gunrunning program that is known as “Operation Fast and Furious” got out of control in November 2009. So much in fact that it appeared the U.S. government was "arming for war" the Sinaloa Cartel single handedly, documents show. Those shocking allegations are revealed in the latest congressional report investigating the operation.
Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives say guns sold under the program took only 24 hours to travel from a gun store in Phoenix to a crime scene in Mexico. The ATF agents that were placed in Mexico pleaded for help concerning the rise in crime, but were told nothing about Fast and Furious. The program was intended to let guns cross the border in order to track them to higher-profile traffickers. How were they supposed to be tracked when the agents in Mexico were not aware of the plan?
The report also claims that the agents' superiors in Washington met every Tuesday, to review the latest sales figures and the number of guns recovered in Mexico. "How long are you going to let this go on?" Steve Martin, an assistant director of intelligence operations asked the ATF top brass at meeting Jan. 5, 2010. None of the men responded and several quickly left the room, the transcript reveals.
By February 2010, Lanny Breuer, the head of the Criminal Division of the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., was allegedly told that the ATF had successfully helped sell 1,026 weapons worth more than $650,000 to members of the Sinaloa cartel. This briefing also included all top ATF officials, including the agents in charge in Los Angeles and Houston, as well as a half dozen top Justice Department attorneys.
"So there's no doubt after this briefing that guns in this case were being linked to the Sinaloa cartel?" a congressional investigator asked Martin during a July 2011 interview.
"I'd say yes." Martin replied.
"Very apparent to everyone in the room?” the investigator asked.
"That's correct," Martin said.
Meanwhile, ATF agents in Mexico were seeing a flood of weapons coming south. When asked, ATF brass told the resident ATF attaché in Mexico things were under control. "They were afraid I was going to brief the ambassador on it or brief the government of Mexico," said Darren Gil, former ATF attaché in Mexico.
For months, officials assured Gil that Fast and Furious was going to be "shut down," but it wasn't. "We're getting hurt down here," Gil told ATF International Affairs Chief Daniel Kumor. Kumor reportedly raised Gil's concerns and was told the case "was going great," and nothing happened until the death of Agent Brian Terry in December 2010.
Ironically, a year before, in December 2009, Southwest Border Czar Ray Rowley threatened to expose Operation Fast and Furious because of "the large number of guns that had already been trafficked" but ATF officials talked him out of it.
When the case was finally revealed in the press, Gil said, "never in my wildest dreams ever would I have thought of (gun walking) as an (investigative) technique. Never. Ever. It was just inconceivable to me. You don't lose guns. You don't walk guns. You don't let guns out of your sight."
The precise number of casualties in Mexico isn't known, but ATF officials confirm the murder of Mario Gonzales Rodriguez, brother of the Chihuahua attorney general, with a Fast and Furious gun.
According to the report, the U.S. knew for eight months of the link between the ATF operation and his death, but refused to tell any Mexican officials.