ATF Death Watch 157: Operation Fast and Furious Armed the Sinaloa Cartel

I haven’t blogged the scandal surrounding the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (and Really Big Fires) for some time. Frankly, I couldn’t stomach running my metaphorical fingers through the entrails of the thing. I am literally revolted by the Obama administration’s corruption, lies, hypocrisy and stonewalling on Operation Fast and Furious. But now I’m back to face facts—something that Obama’s Boyz are still trying desperately to avoid. And for good reason. As I’ve been saying since the beginning of this scandal, even before Mexican drug thugs wielding ATF-enabled firearms gunned down U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, F&F was more than a “botched sting.” To quote President Obama’s mentor, the chickens are coming home to roost. Check this from theblaze.com . . .

[Captured Los Zetas "logistics coordinator" Victor] Zambada-Niebla claims that under a “divide and conquer” strategy, the U.S. helped finance and arm the Sinaloa Cartel through Operation Fast and Furious in exchange for information that allowed the DEA, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other federal agencies to take down rival drug cartels. The Sinaloa Cartel was allegedly permitted to traffic massive amounts of drugs across the U.S. border from 2004 to 2009 as long as the intel kept coming.

To recap, Mexico is in the midst of a vicious and relentless war between one multi-billion dollar drug cartel (Los Zetas) and another (Sinloas). Some 83k Mexican have been murdered in the last six years during this bloody battle for control of the illegal drug trade. Many more have been tortured. Many more have lost their political rights and human dignity.

Zambada-Niebla is saying that the U.S. government chose sides in this conflict, arming and supporting the weaker cartel (Sinaloa) against the stronger (Los Zetas). As we did in Columbia, and elsewhere. The former drug kingpin says the ATF’s Guns for Goons program Fast and Furious was part and parcel of American support to the Sinaloa cartel.

He should know. Zambada-Niebla claims—credibly–that he was a DEA informant during the time he was organizing massive shipments of dope, coke and meths to U.S. consumers. The DEA says he wasn’t an official informant. No one officially offered him immunity (there is a process for such things).

Yes, well, Zambada-Niebla’s trial is scheduled for October. As in October surprise. Or not. If you think Attorney General Eric Holder is stonewalling on the whole who-knew-what-when and who-covered-up-what-when F&F front, the feds (DEA, FBI, CIA, DHS, CPB, etc.) have erected a wall o’ death around records re: U.S. collusion with Zambada-Niebla and his pals.

Keep in mind that this is not an either/or deal. Fast and Furious may have been both a program designed to support “our” cartel AND a way to gin-up support for gun control.

Neither is a particularly defensible policy. But if Congressional investigators can show that the Obama administration gave a Mexican drug cartel free reign to export drugs and import billions of dollars (cash money), leading to the death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Agent Jaime Zapata, the F&F scandal will go nuclear.

As I’ve said before,  Zambada-Niebla’s testimony is so potentially damaging that it’s a wonder he’s alive. Let’s hope he remains so. It’s high time that Congress dragged the players at the sharp end of this extra-legal black bag job into the light of a public hearing. The American people and relatives of Agents Terry and Zapata deserve nothing less.

Oh, and meanwhile, another Fast and Furious firearm has surfaced. elpasotimes.com:

A weapon tied to “Operation Fast and Furious” was seized in Tijuana in connection with a drug cartel’s conspiracy to kill the police chief of Tijuana, Baja California, who later became the Juárez police chief, according to a U.S. government report.

The firearm was found Feb. 25, 2010, during an arrest of a criminal cell associated with Teodoro “El Teo” García Simental and Raydel “El Muletas” López Uriarte, allies of the Sinaloa cartel.

Tijuana police said they arrested four suspects in March 2010 in connection with a failed attempt to take out Julián Leyzaola, and that the suspects allegedly confessed to conspiring to assassinate the police chief on orders from Tijuana cartel leaders.

The gun’s discovery coincides with the ten-month time period during which Fast and Furious was operational, delivering over 2000 weapons into the hands of known cartel members. How about that.

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About Robert Farago

Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

39 Responses to ATF Death Watch 157: Operation Fast and Furious Armed the Sinaloa Cartel

  1. avatarjwm says:

    i’ll keep saying it. barry and company need to be unemployed. it’s wisfhful thinking to hope they’ll wind up in front of a judge. still, one can dream.

  2. avatarTheodore deCapiteau says:

    HOW DARE Obama & Company engineer that debacle (that means ‘fiasco’) four years BEFORE Obama became president. Let’s see, who was president then? Hmm, yes, I think it was George W. Bush. You don’t think he had something to do with it, do you? Naw, George W. wouldn’t do that; I know, Obama must be trying to frame him. Yeah, that’s it.

    • avatarTTACer says:

      Fast and Furious is an operation that began in 2009 and is the one that the article is referring to.

      • avatarirock350 says:

        No the article is referring to US and Sinola interactions between 2004-2009. This was not apart of Fast and Furious.

        • avatarraggedfrog says:

          I am not here to defend the Bushies if there were DEA and BATF screw-ops on their watch, which allegation insofar seems limited to one Zambada-Lieda. WHAT IS UTTERLY CLEAR IS THE F&F UNDER HOLDER AND HUSSEIN, so if you’re anti-Bush, work to get your evidence out and make your case. Corroboration of Zambedia-Lieda is a logical 1st step.

    • avatarGS650G says:

      Wrong website, dailykos is over ther

    • avatarSanchanim says:

      I think Theodore is referring to operation wide receiver which was a more traditional sting operation. It was stopped when an attempt which failed to use GPS style tracking devices failed.
      Not saying that was the smartest idea, but it got shut down when they knew it wasn’t working.

      • avatarLevi B says:

        Tracking devices, DOD plane, and an undercover fed pilot. Yes, that’s exactly the same as letting thousands of guns walk into Mexico without any attempts to track or make arrests.

        Obama apologists are looking more stupid by the day.

  3. avatarPale horse says:

    At what point in this cluster could a case for Treason against Holder be made?

    • avatarSanchanim says:

      As sad as it sounds I don’t think it will happen until 10 or 20 LEO’s along the boarder get gunned down by gangs using the guns. Once that happens every LEO organization in the US will want answers and no amount of money or promises will matter to them. They will line up with the NRA, and SAF behind Issa to get those answers. Holder will have charges filed outside of congress in various courts. At that point there won’t be much he can do, and the Obama administration will be forced to hand over the documents. Add into the fact we could potentially get more damning testimony from various informants as well.

  4. avatarNelson says:

    here is Ben Swann of WXIX, local Fox affiliate (the ONLY, TRULY “Fair and Balanced”-kind) Cincinnati, OH reporting on this issue:

    and the obvious, but something historically amnesic sheeple love to willfully forget:

    • avatarBeninMA says:

      If we’re lucky, Ben Swann will someday be the Wolf Blitzer of a libertarian news network. It’s crazy that libertarians have almost zero presence in the news media.

      • avatarMike S says:

        Yeah I’m watching all the videos of him I can find on youtube now.
        It’s funny- when you see someone on television actually saying things you know to be true, in a clear manner and without the R or D spin, you start checking yourself for a fever because how can it possibly be happening?
        Thanks, Nelson for posting those. I had now idea this Ben Swann guy was out there.

        • avatarBeninMA says:

          Exactly. Just look at Ron Paul – he ignited some truly enthusiastic supporters, but they’re mostly iconoclasts and early adopters. You’re not going to get the average person to support a candidate who’s perceived to be a voice in the wilderness. But things start to change when you have voices in the media taking these ideas seriously.

    • avatarMatt in FL says:

      Those videos of Ben Swann are interesting. I’m surprised at the depth of the detail he provides. That’s not something I’m used to seeing on a local broadcast.

  5. avatarBLAMMO says:

    … The Sinaloa Cartel was allegedly permitted to traffic massive amounts of drugs across the U.S. border from 2004 to 2009 as long as the intel kept coming.

    Now, let’s see if Issa has the stomach to look at the ATF under the previous administration, or if he’ll punk out. I don’t want to hear no “never mind”.

    • avatarTTACer says:

      Why wouldn’t the Obama Justice Dept look into that?

    • avatarjwm says:

      because the other guys did it doesn’t excuse the current bunch their crimes. i’m sure as a child tour parents hit you with that old chestnut” just because everyone else is jumping off a bridge doesn,t mean you have” or some variation on the same.

  6. avatarDonS says:

    Being somewhat of a stickler for standard units and their symbols, I read this part of the post with some shock:

    Some 83k thousand Mexican have been murdered in the last six years

    83k == 83,000
    83k thousand == 83,000 thousand == 83 million

    That would be nearly 2/3 of the population of Mexico.

  7. avatarSanchanim says:

    I know that Issa is trying his best as well as the congress members involved, but it seems like nothing is going anywhere. Every time they try and force a hand we get more road blocks either from Obama or others.
    Holder should be in jail, as anyone else who would be held in contempt of congress would be arrested on site, but I guess he has a special get out of jail free card.

  8. avatarRight! says:

    It’s not a debacle, it’s not a “Mistake”, it’s not inept leadership.
    It’s all part of an organized Communist Insurgency.
    Read the history of the “Spainish Civil War” which was a classic Communist Insurgancy. The Communists were voted into office by a landslide, it took 3 years to destroy the economy, they were voted out of office and rersponded with nation wide terrorism and a military intervention via Russia. Mass murder followed.
    America is on an identicle road.

  9. avatarMark N. says:

    It is an interesting theory, but there are a few things that don’t seem to add up. One, why would the Sinaloa give a rat’s ass about a couple of thousand semiautomatic rifles and pistols from the US, all bought at a premium, when they have access to billions of dollars and fully automatic weapons they can buy at third world prices? Two, there is mounting evidence of a wide ranging DEA operation–secret of course–that assisted the cartel in smuggling in drugs and laundering millions of dollars–but this operation had nothing to do with the ATF. Drugs are not within the ATF bailiwick, and the services are notorious for “failing” to share information with other agencies, and stepping on each others toes because the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing–excused, always, by the interest in “operational security.” So I can believe that the US gov was cooperating with the Sinaloa cartel, but that doesn’t connect up F&F.

    There is a logic to working with the Sinaloas. First, wipe out the Zetas, an admirable goal, and by doing the shipping and laundering, be ina position to shut down Sinaloa as soon as the Zetas are out of the pricture. Were real life so easy, and the Zetas not such a hard target…..

    • avatarRalph says:

      One, why would the Sinaloa give a rat’s ass about a couple of thousand semiautomatic rifles and pistols from the US

      The Sinaloa Cartel functions similarly to the American Mafia. Mexico is a big country; the distribution of the product covers an even greater area. The individual cells or families are semiautonomous, although they work together to push the bosses’ drugs. They give up the big money to the bosses, and they arm themselves. There’s no central Sinaloa armory where street soldiers can sign out their guns. They get them where they can — from ex-mil, from “seepage,” from offshore and from the ATF.

      And if you think that a couple of thousand rifles in only ten months is nothing for a new supply chain, you must have a very large collection.

    • avatarRight! says:

      The big mistake here is thinking that Obobo wants to destroy the Cartels. Obobo wants to destroy America as a nation and the Cartels are smuggeling in Jihadies, there are hundreds on the border and 10,000s in Venezuala, they have been there since 2000 and now guard the ‘Trade Routes’ to the US.

  10. avatarBruce says:

    I don’t know what happened and perhaps I never will but I have a few thoughts. We know we can trust everything Zambada-Niebla says because, oh yea, he’s a criminal drug dealer and he’s always loyal to his employers. And since when have ‘guns’ killed people? Is everyone saying if the drug carte hadn’t gotten the guns from the president they wouldn’t have shot any DEA agents? Perhaps the gun grabbers are correct and we should ban guns.

  11. avatarBeninMA says:

    These claims should be investigated (but like others here, I’m not holding my breath on that!).

  12. avatarirock350 says:

    Zambafa claims that the trading of guns and drugs for Intel happened before Obama was in Office, so unless he can travel through time, this debacle is GW’s fault. When are we going to see Issa get off his high horse and bring in the Bush republicans? Oh wait, I forgot Obama traveled through time with Holder to set this up. At some point Congress is going to have to start blaming Bush for some of this.

  13. avatarThomas Paine says:

    Whether its true or not, happening or conspiracy theory, there is a problem with US drug laws and simple economics. Its called Federal Asset Forfeiture. It goes along with the whole ‘militarization of police’ thing.

    If they seize the drugs, then they have to destroy them. If they seize the money and property, then the department gets to keep it, auction it, and get bonuses and buy tanks and helicopters and buy new MP5′s.

    Therefore, why not follow the drugs until AFTER the sale? Then you can get the money for your department. If some get lost in the process, well……who cares? we have new mp5′s!

    • avatarGreg in Allston says:

      Are you suggesting that OUR Untouchables could be ethically and morally compromised by something as tawdry and base as billions of dollars? Heaven forfend!! The scandal!! Please fetch my smelling salts.

    • avatarMark N. says:

      Well then maybe they ought to auction off the drugs. Come full circle and all. Reminds me of theat movie “The Professional.” Just like prisoners and prison guards, after a while it is hard to tell them apart. When you sleep with hogs….

  14. The Fast and Furious activities took place before Obama was president. Only idiot Obama-haters keep blaming it on Obama.

    Robert, I think the reason you haven’t written about this in a while is because after 150 posts, even you have run out of gas.

    • avatarSteve says:

      How is 2009 before Obama was President? Don’t confuse the 2007 ATF Operation Wide Receiver with F&F which was in 2009.

      http://tinyurl.com/7e3t2hm

      • The truth is I haven’t followed it much at all. But, when I was on vacation in the States, it was the time Holder was in the news for that contempt charge, I watched several reports of the Fast and Furious story which contained the timeline. They said the original actions took place under Bush, before Obama took office. I found that fascinating because in Robert’s hundreds of posts, I don’t think that even came up.

        • avatarChris says:

          That is because it was incorrect. Welcome to the MSM not giving you the full story and showing only what they think is right. Luckily and thankfully, Robert sources all of his info. If the MSM would do that, I would be impressed.

    • avatarRight! says:

      That is an outright LIE Mikey

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