When the Gunwalker scandal first pinged TTAG’s radar, I was skeptical about the ATF’s motives for allowing smugglers to export thousands of guns to Mexican drug thugs. If enervating Congress for money and power was the goal, why not just lie about the number of American guns [allegedly] smuggled into Mexico? This they’d already done, with such success that the media still quotes the ATF’s misleading stat (90 percent of guns submitted for trace by the Mexicans come from the U.S.). To use the British expression, launching an anti-gun smuggling gun smuggling operation is like using a hammer to crack a walnut . . .
While I don’t doubt the ATF used Gunwalker to feather their nest, it’s important to see the scandal in its wider context. Mexico’s political landscape is increasingly if not exclusively defined by the multi-billion dollar turf war between the Los Zetas drug cartel and everyone else. Everyone else being the other drug cartels, the Mexican government and Mexican military.
The evidence of Mexico’s bloody split-the-spoils internecine intrigue is everywhere. laht.com offers a look at the recent decision of the Mexican military to keep 5000 federal troops positioned in the heart of Los Zetas territory, in direct competition with local politicians, law enforcement and (obviously) Los Zetas.
Ciudad Juarez, a metropolis of roughly 1.2 million people just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, has suffered nearly 9,000 homicides since the beginning of 2008.
The carnage is blamed on a turf war between the Juarez and Sinaloa drug cartels, both of which rely heavily on local street gangs to carry out attacks.
Contrary to Blake’s assertion, the deployment of nearly 10,000 soldiers and federal police – the troops were pulled out earlier amid an avalanche of abuse complaints – has had no measurable effect on the level of violence in Juarez.
The city’s top cop, Julian Leyzaola, said at least 20 federal police officers shot at vehicles carrying him and his bodyguards in the wee hours of Tuesday as the chief was traveling to the municipal jail to quell a riot that left 17 inmates dead.
City clerk Hector Arcelus dismissed the federal cops’ claim that the shooting was the result of confusion.
No one, I repeat NO ONE, is anti-drug smuggling. Here’s a partial transcript from the video above [via borderlandbeat.com] created by a new group called Mata Zetas (Kill Zetas).
We also send, via this video, our respect and admiration to the Governor Javier Duarte. He is fighting the fight against these filthy Zetas. We have nothing to do with politics, nor do we seek to be involved in politics.
This is for our friends who are sick of injustice. We wish that every one of you could have the opportunity to say what the Zetas have done. Unfortunately not everyone has the financial means to bring justice. We are calling upon citizens to report the Zetas, it is necessary to begin action against them.
We say to all Mexicans that it is Time to act – we are all free, drug trafficking will not end but we can turn this around for peace and tranquility and for the benefit of our children. If we do not act now, what is ahead is living with the fear of Zetas coming to tax, kidnap, and rob us of what we have worked so hard for . . .
It’s time for anyone who has information of a Zeta, either here or in another state to expose them to us so we can react our way, we have been killing every one of them we find.
Lastly, we want to send greetings to all those who maintain the good fight against Los Zetas, and whoever is their enemy is friend of ours.
And that would be . . . you. Last year, America exported more arms to the Mexican military than the government of Afghanistan. Mexico is deploying American-supplied fully automatic machine guns, grenades, helicopters, etc. against the Zetas. Not the Sinaloa cartel and their subsidiaries. Los Zetas. As the uniformly armed Meta Zetas said, “drug trafficking will not end.”
If you cast your mind back to ATF DW34, you will recall that captured Zetas leader Jesus Enrique Rejon Aguilar said his org got all its guns from U.S. gun smugglers. Which, as we discussed, is an excellent sign that the largely ex-military Zetas got none of their guns from the U.S. But someone got the Gunwalker guns. Without anyone in the ATF, DOJ, DEA, CPB, DHS, ICE, FBI, State Department or White House getting in the way. Iran-Contra? Not quite.
After all, why would the ATF arm non-Zetas when the U.S. government was already doing it? My best guess: the ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious was pimping for power. All the non-ATF federal agents turned a blind eye to the ATF-enabled gun smuggling because it didn’t really matter. They knew “our” cartels would get the weapons. In other words, Fast and Furious was an amoral sideshow inside the amoral Big Top.
Representative Issa’s Gunwalker investigation is focusing on who knew what when about Operation Fast and Furious’ gun smuggling. He needs to widen the scope of his enquiry to examine the fetid underbelly of America’s relations with Mexico. To paraphrase the Watergate catch-phrase: follow the guns.