Monday, March 21, 2011

Whistleblower: ATF Allowed Suspect Weapons Sales, Smuggling to Mexican Cartels & Gangs; US Ambassador to Mexico Resigns

US Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry- Victim of Operation Fast & Furious?
This was something I had gone over nearly a month ago over at Not Another New England Sports Blog! but it seemed to get lost in the shuffle with the latest developments out of Libya and Japan (understandably so, I might add).

Do you remember how politicians from New York Mayor Micheal Bloomberg to Mexican President Felipe Calderon had basically came right out and said that guns sold legally in America were to blame for the ongoing drug cartel violence in Mexico (as opposed to the systematic corruption by Mexican officials further enabling groups like Los Zetas, the Beltran-Leyva cartel or the cult-like La Familia Michoacana)?

I had initially derided such claims as pure and unmitigated bovine crap- I mean think about it, a criminal organization like Los Zetas (which largely consists of deserters from the Special Forces Brigade of the Mexican Army) has the werewithal and contacts in both the underworld, Mexican military, and international arms market to make bulk purchases of not only guns but also grenades, anti-armour weaponry, detonators and explosives. It's more than likely that the other cartels have the same or similar contacts, so the notion of them stocking up on their arsenal courtesy of the local Wal-Mart or Cabelas seems ludicrous.

However it turns out they were more on the nose than anybody thought. But what nobody banked on was that the cartels and Mexican criminals were arming themselves with American guns thanks in large part to the complicity of the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms.

BATF Agent John Dodson has come forward and in an interview with CBS went on record as saying that allowing suspect sale of firearms to straw purchasers in Arizona go through before they were smuggled to Mexico was part of a tactic known as letting the guns 'walk'.
Agent Dodson and other sources say the gun walking strategy was approved all the way up to the Justice Department. The idea was to see where the guns ended up, build a big case and take down a cartel. And it was all kept secret from Mexico.

ATF named the case "Fast and Furious."

Surveillance video obtained by CBS News shows suspected drug cartel suppliers carrying boxes of weapons to their cars at a Phoenix gun shop. The long boxes shown in the video being loaded in were AK-47-type assault rifles.

So it turns out ATF not only allowed it - they videotaped it.

Documents show the inevitable result: The guns that ATF let go began showing up at crime scenes in Mexico. And as ATF stood by watching thousands of weapons hit the streets... the Fast and Furious group supervisor noted the escalating Mexican violence.

One e-mail noted, "958 killed in March 2010 ... most violent month since 2005." The same e-mail notes: "Our subjects purchased 359 firearms during March alone," including "numerous Barrett .50 caliber rifles."

Dodson feels that ATF was partly to blame for the escalating violence in Mexico and on the border. "I even asked them if they could see the correlation between the two," he said. "The more our guys buy, the more violence we're having down there."

Senior agents including Dodson told CBS News they confronted their supervisors over and over.

Their answer, according to Dodson, was, "If you're going to make an omelette, you've got to break some eggs."

There was so much opposition to the gun walking, that an ATF supervisor issued an e-mail noting a "schism" among the agents. "Whether you care or not people of rank and authority at HQ are paying close attention to this case...we are doing what they envisioned.... If you don't think this is fun you're in the wrong line of work... Maybe the Maricopa County jail is hiring detention officers and you can get $30,000 ... to serve lunch to inmates..."
Agent Dodson and others knew that allowing the guns to walk wouldn't end well, and their fears were confirmed in December 2010 when two guns from Fast & Furious were recovered from the scene of an Arizona shootout that killed US Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.

Not surprisingly, Mexican authorities were kept in the dark about Fast & Furious as well. Mexican diplomats have petitioned the US Department of Justice for more details regarding the operation since Agent Dodson came forward as a whistleblower.

Dodson has formally sought protection as a whistleblower under Federal law and has been providing information to the Senate Judiciary committee, chaired by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA).

The whole premise sounds like something out of the underpants gnomes theory of law enforcement:

Phase 1- Allow weapons to be smuggled to criminal organizations out of our jurisdiction.
Phase 2- ?
Phase 3- High profile arrest!

In a more recent development, US Ambassador to Mexico Carlos Pascual has stepped down this weekend after months of pressure from the Calderon administration. Most reports in the media are depicting this as fallout from a wikileaks revelation where Ambassador Pascual disclosed in diplomatic cables that cartel informants are thought to have infiltrated President Calderon's inner circle [in other words, he was pressured to step down for paying attention and noticing the obvious?] but Mexican lawmakers were irate about the latest allegations regarding the ATF's Fast and Furious.

The resignation came about a week after the Arizona Daily Star published an op-ed by President Obama titled We Must Seek Agreement on Gun Reforms, alluding the deadly January shooting spree in Tuscon, AZ that killed 6 and critically injured Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D- AZ, 8th District), but made zero mention of the weapons the ATF allowed to head South of the Border.

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  1. Holy Crap! This is a great article

  2. I'm pretty sure the ATF's real goal was to document a flow of arms into Mexico, in order to give them a rationale to clamp down on long gun sales in the US. Honestly, the BATFE's couldn't care less who dies in Mexico or why, as this episode demonstrates.