ATF Death Watch 65: Operation Fast and Furious Continued

The Mexican government is at war with Los Zetas drug cartel. And for good reason. The former military unit has the money, men, materiel and motivation to take over the entire country. A military junta would suit their needs perfectly, subjugating their enemies and assuring a stranglehold on the 30 billion dollar a year illegal U.S. drug trade. Not to mention a piece of everything else that passes for free enterprise in Mexico. This bloody conflict—Los Zetas and their allies vs. President Calderon and his military and political supporters—is increasing in ferocity ahead of the 2012 Mexican elections. Hence Operation Fast and Furious . . .

Which was part of the CIA’s multi-level campaign to aid President Calderon against Los Zetas. The ATF’s “botched operation” was no such thing. It successfully armed the Sinaloa cartel against Los Zetas—at the expense of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.

Now that the plug has been pulled, even as fingers are pointed and an entire alphabet soup of participating federal agencies run for cover, the U.S. government is launching Son of Operation Fast and Furious.

The Obama administration has expanded its role in Mexico’s fight against organized crime by allowing the Mexican police to stage cross-border drug raids from inside the United States, according to senior administration and military officials.

Mexican commandos have discreetly traveled to the United States, assembled at designated areas and dispatched helicopter missions back across the border aimed at suspected drug traffickers. The Drug Enforcement Administration provides logistical support on the American side of the border, officials said, arranging staging areas and sharing intelligence that helps guide Mexico’s decisions about targets and tactics.

Well, that explains reports of “accidental” Mexican military chopper landings at American airports. And puts the “accidental” use of Operation Fast and Furious guns by the Sinaloas against Los Zetas cartel members into context.

Officials said these so-called boomerang operations were intended to evade the surveillance — and corrupting influences — of the criminal organizations that closely monitor the movements of security forces inside Mexico. And they said the efforts were meant to provide settings with tight security for American and Mexican law enforcement officers to collaborate in their pursuit of criminals who operate on both sides of the border.

For some reason, the New York Times has failed to ask the critical question. Against whom are we—I mean the Afghan police—I mean the Iraq military—I mean, the Mexican military/police launching these forays? Like racists, like good government puppets, the Times simply assume that all Mexican drug cartels are the same.

Although the operations remain rare, they are part of a broadening American campaign aimed at blunting the power of Mexican cartels that have built criminal networks spanning the world and have started a wave of violence in Mexico that has left more than 35,000 people dead.

“Blunting the power” as in committing the CIA, DEA and U.S. military resources to aiding Mexican President Calderon’s quest to maintain power. Specifically . . .

American Predator and Global Hawk drones now fly deep over Mexico to capture video of drug production facilities and smuggling routes. Manned American aircraft fly over Mexican targets to eavesdrop on cellphone communications. And the D.E.A. has set up an intelligence outpost — staffed by Central Intelligence Agency operatives and retired American military personnel — on a Mexican military base.

NOW how many guns would the ATF let anti-Zetas smugglers walk into Mexico? As Ralph points out, if some yutz hadn’t shot U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry Operation Fast and Furious would still be letting drug thugs walk thousands of guns to anti-Zetas cartels.

This bigger picture does not excuse the ATF for enabling the very same criminal activity they’re sworn to prevent and/or prosecute. Clearly, the Bureau’s anti-Second Amendment goons saw a potential for a huge increase in political capital (i.e. a bigger budget and support for new ATF anti-gun rights regs) by creating Mexican crime stats that established a connection between U.S. gun store guns and Mexican cartel violence.

But there is a bigger picture, and it ain’t pretty. Despite denials—“These are not joint operations,” said one senior administration official. “They are self-contained Mexican operations where staging areas were provided by the United States”—Uncle Sam is deeply involved in internal Mexican politics.

That is not in and of itself a bad thing—although there are no “good guys” in all of this. The biggest problem with the U.S. anti-Zetas ops (including Operation Fast and Furious) is that it’s all being done in our name under cover of darkness. A secretive federal government is making decisions that imperil millions of Mexicans and contributed to Agent’s Terry’s death without our advise and consent.

“I’m not necessarily opposed to greater American involvement,” [Mexican political scientist Denise] Dresser said. “But if that’s the way the Mexican government wants to go, it needs to come clean about it. Just look at what we learned from Iraq. Secrecy led to malfeasance. It led to corrupt contracting. It led to torture. It led to instability. And who knows when those problems will be resolved.”

But we do know how: at the point of a gun.