This report dates back to 2009; approximately the same time our friends at the ATF launched Operation Fast and Furious. But it’s new information to us and top secret too. “LAW ENFORCEMENT SENSITIVE. DO NOT DISSEMINATE OUTSIDE ATF WITHOUT APPROVAL.” Yeah we’re going to assume a web page available to the public is OK for release. Quite what it means – where did these counterfeit Colt M16A2 Rifles and M203 Grenade Launchers come from? – is another story. One which will probably never be told. But it’s not without humor. Specifically, “Analysts noted . . . the word ‘government’ stamped above the magazine well was missing the letter ‘n.’” So that’s why the ATF analysts get the big bucks. Click here to read the document on cryptocomb.org (while you can) or make the jump for more pics and the best bits . . .
On June 6, 2009, in Acapulco, Guerrero State, the Mexican Army engaged members of the Beltran Leyva Organization in a large scale gun battle, resulting in multiple deaths on both sides, as well as civilian casualties. A substantial amount of firearms and military ordnance were recovered from the scene. The SWB-FIST [Southwest Border Field Intelligence Support Team] and ATF’s Mexico Country Office (MCO) began reviewing the seizure data from this widely publicized incident, to include photographs of many of the seized weapons. An observation was made that two of the recovered Colt M16 rifles with attached 40mm grenade launchers were most likely counterfeit. Analysts noted that these weapons did not contain serial numbers (Colt serializes both the rifle and the launcher), nor did they bear signs of serial number obliteration. Additionally, the word “government” stamped above the magazine well was missing the letter “n,” and Colt trademark symbols appeared to be crudely forged and placed inconsistently on the rifles with known Colt firearms’ stamping. Furthermore, the selector switch appearing on the grenade launchers is not the same switch as that manufactured as part of a Colt M203 40mm grenade launcher . . .
It is the opinion of the SWB-FIST that these counterfeit firearms were produced for one or two reasons only. The first is that whoever manufactured the firearms was attempting to maximize profits by cloning a true military grade Colt firearm. Actual military weapons are extremely difficult for the DTOs [Drug Trafficking organizations] to acquire, and they are willing to pay top dollar for them. A second possible reason is that the DTO purposely cloned the weapons as Colt M16A2 rifles because these weapons are issued to the Mexican Armed Forces and some law enforcement units. Seized along with the counterfeit weapons were both real and fraudulent Mexican police and military uniforms as well as other tactical equipment used by these same authorities. This equipment, along with the counterfeit weapons, would allow the paramilitary gunmen of the DTOs to operate under the guise of a real soldier or police officer, without drawing the attention of the Mexican authorities . . .
One final comment should be made about the broader firearms trafficking picture at the current time in Mexico. Detailed analysis of seizure event data and firearms tracing data placed these counterfeit weapons into a definite timeframe between 2007 and 2009. They do not continue to appear at the current time. However, other non-traditionally sourced firearms are being recovered in more recent seizure events. These include firearms made from kits, firearms built onto lower receivers, and converted firearms. This may be an indication that the DTOs are pursuing alternative methods to simply straw purchasing firearms from retail U.S. dealers. The SWB-FIST will continue to monitor these non-traditional sources through ATF tracing and seizure data.
Which stopped being made public at around this same time frame, as the ATF claimed an “iron river” of guns was flowing from U.S. gun stores to Mexican drug cartel members. And began the Fast and Furious program to make sure that happened.