The ATF operation that supplied Mexican drug cartel members with weapons from American gun stores was designed to . . . supply Mexican drug cartel members with weapons from American gun stores. I guess that’s a little too obvious for the mainstream media. The alphabet soup of federal agencies that helped run Operation Fast and Furious have perpetuated a less politically dangerous analysis: Uncle Sam’s gun smuggling program was a “botched sting.” This characterization ignores the fact that A) the traffic was exclusive to Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel and B) the ATF failed to arrest a single “big fish” during the 10-month, two-thousand-guns-plus program. What’s more, the ATF’s previous anti-gun running program wasn’t broken and Fast and Furious couldn’t fix it . . .
As Fox News points out, the anti-gun smuggling program known as Project Gunrunner was a success. The ATF interdicted thousands of illegally purchased American guns before they crossed the border into Mexico. Project Gunrunner yielded hundreds of indictments against so-called “straw purchasers.” So why modify the program to “let my ARs go”? Truth be told, there was no way for the ATF to trace the guns once they walked across the Mexican border. So what was the point?
The gunblogosphere’s explanation: the Department of Justice (the ATF’s boss) created Operation Fast and Furious to increase the American electorate’s support for the ATF’s work. They were seeking to garner support for ATF-sponsored anti-Second Amendment regulations and enforcement.
Mexican law enforcement officials (such as they are) would eTrace captured American gun store guns at Mexican “crime scenes” (a.k.a., intra-cartel carnage and anti-civilian rape, torture and murder). The ATF would use the stats on this “Iron River” to score Congressional funding and bolster new regs. “Why waste a good crisis” became “why not make a good crisis and exploit it?”
Operation Fast and Furious’ genesis was a lot less complicated than that. The CIA convinced the ATF to change Project Gunrunner’s rules of engagement to supply our allies south of the border with firearms.
Yes allies. To understand Fast and Furious, it pays to remember that there are Mexican drug cartels and there are Mexican drug cartels. The U.S. isn’t interested in combatting Mexican drug cartels in general. They’re focused on the Mexican government’s war against Los Zetas. That’s the paramilitary cartel that has the motive, means and opportunity to overthrow the government of Felipe Calderon.
Operation Fast and Furious was predicated on a simple strategy: Sinaloas good, Los Zetas bad. That’s the way it was. That’s the way it is. Whenever you see a press report on a “victory” in the so-called “War on Drugs” that involves a Mexican cartel, it’s always Los Zetas who get nailed, or one of their allies (e.g. the Gulf Cartel). To wit, this from today’s laht.com:
Aurelio Cano-Flores, aka “Yankee” and “Yeyo,” a high-ranking member of the Mexican Gulf Cartel, has been extradited to the United States from Mexico to face drug conspiracy charges, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Administrator Michele M. Leonhart of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Lanny Breuer is the Attorney General who green-lighted Operation Fast and Furious and kept tabs on the “botched” op as it placed thousands of guns into the hands of Sinaloa drug thugs. Funny how Lanny’s adding a Zeta-related scalp to his belt just as the Congressional investigation into Fast and Furious circles down on him.
“Today we have brought to a court of law Aurelio Cano-Flores, a major drug trafficker connected to the extreme violence of the Los Zetas and Gulf Cartels and who allegedly is responsible for transporting multi-ton quantities of drugs into the United States,” said DEA Administrator Leonhart. “This is part of a concerted, combined, and coordinated effort by Mexico and the United States to target the command and control of the drug trafficking cartels.
This extradition is another example of our enduring commitment to bring to justice violent criminals who deny justice to others, and whose drugs are a threat to both our nations.”
It bears repeating: Lenny and his Boyz at the ATF, CIA, DEA, FBI, ICE, DHS, CPB, IRS, State and White House were not—are not targeting the command and control of ALL Mexican drug cartels. Just the ones that aren’t in bed with the Mexican government. He helped create Fast and Furious operation to arm the Sinaloas, Los Zeta’s deadly rivals.
Operation Fast and Furious was an ideal scheme for the CIA to help the Mexican government aid the Sinaloas in their fight against Los Zetas. For one thing, F&F provided the CIA with not one but two layers of plausible deniability. The Mexicans would trace captured “crime scene guns”to U.S. gun stores. And then, maybe, the ATF. But not The Company. Two Patsies for the price of one.
Secondly, circumventing the wall of federal and international regulations required to manufacture and ship guns and grenades to “friendly” foreign governments (or cartels) is not so easy (Mr. Bond). Even the CIA can’t lose a crate of box-fresh fully automatic Bushmaster ARs (with under-barrel grenade launchers) accidentally on purpose.
Thirdly, the feds want to keep a lid on the fact that the majority of the cartels’ guns (grenades, ammo, etc.) are U.S. military-spec weapons. Fast and Furious diverts attention away from enormous and ongoing U.S. government-sanctioned weapons sales to the Mexican military and law-enforcement; weapons that somehow manage to “seep” from the bad guys to the REALLY bad guys.
Anyway, why wouldn’t the CIA use the ATF? The Bureau wanted some gun recovery stats to make themselves look important. The CIA wanted to arm the Sinaloas against Los Zetas. Call it mutual self-interest.
Again, none of this excuses anyone from anything. Operation Fast and Furious was an illegal government program. It violated Mexican sovereignty. It aided and abetted the illegal purchase of firearms (a federal crime) and provided weapons to known criminals, who used them to commit felony murder on a federal law enforcement official.
Congressional investigators and the media need to stop acting like Operation Fast and Furious was a good op gone bad. It was a bad op gone worse. To stop this from happening again, we need to uncover and report the truth (and yes, we can handle it.) Remember that bogus “90 percent of drug cartel guns come from the U.S.” stat? In the aftermath of this debacle, it’s time we heard the full truth about Mexican cartels’ guns. I think Agent Terry’s family would agree that we owe it to the memory of his service.