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.

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11 Responses to ATF Death Watch 62: Chaos vs. Control

  1. it’s time we heard the full truth about Mexican cartels’ guns.

    It’s way past time, but it ain’t a-gonna happen because nobody except a few voices in the wilderness wants it to happen. POTUS dosn’t want it to happen, and the entire executive branch is lined up behind him, The Mexican government doesn’t want it to happen. The Sinaloas don’t want it to happen. The MSM doesn’t want it to happen because it might tarnish their little tin god with big ears. The CIA doesn’t want it to happen, and that’s probably the deciding vote right there. The Dems in Congress sure don’t want it to happen. Even the Republicans don’t want it to happen.

    The “good op gone bad” cover story is the one that hurts the fewest people, so that’s the one we will hear until this story eventually goes away or becomes a punchline, like Bill Clinton’s definition of “is.”

    Forget it, Robert. It’s Chinatown.

  2. I like the Get Smart association in the title.

    With the ATF scheme, the Agency maintained plausible deniability. Who doesn’t love a patsy?

    Ah, the old “we’ll – do – something – insidiously – illegal – and – if – we – get – caught – claim – incompetence – or – blame – somebody – else” trick. Second time I fell for it this month.

  3. Robert:

    I did a little research since our weekend private exchange and I am afraid that I will have to ruin your F&F conspiracy theory.

    ATF does not have any Title 50 (intelligence) authorities. It cannot legally participate in a covert foreign intelligence operation. It can only support CIA operations using its Title 18 and 21 authorities. Those authorities do not include acting as a CIA arms dealer.

    The CIA would never use ATF as a middleman with straw buyers to delivery weapons to a client. Those weapons with serial numbers that could be traced back to a US covet operation would violate the CIA’s prime directive, i.e., don’t get caught. The CIA would only use arms dealers whose products could not be traced directly to a US source. They would be calling their friends in Eastern Europe or Asia to move product. That is why they are called covert ops.

    F&F is all about domestic gun control. It started almost immediately after Obama was sworn in. I suspect AG Holder thought it would be great to use CIA covert operations in Mexico to protect their false flag op. Neither Obama nor his teleprompter have enough imagination to come up with a scheme like this. If and when F&F was blown they could use “national security” as an excuse to shut down any congressional investigation. That hasn’t worked out very well. A sure sign that F&F was an intelligence op would be if the House or Senate intelligence committees showed interest in F&F. So far they haven’t. I think that is a little odd at least for the HPSCI, which is in Republican hands, hasn’t jumpted by now. I think they would want to know why ATF was playing outside their legal sandbox.

  4. tdiinva, Robert didn’t say that ATF ran the guns or that it acted as the CIA’s middleman. I don’t know where you got that. ATF never touched the weapons. All ATF had to do was look the other way and let the straw buyers move the guns, which it did 2000 times.

    If you have information about what the Senate and House intelligence committees were briefed about concerning F&F, please share it. If you’re just speculating that the committees were unaware, as I think you are, that’s okay.

    You mentioned serial numbers, and you raise a helpful point. The serial numbers on F&F guns could never be traced to any agency, because they were never owned by any agency. They belonged to the gun shops that sold them, and that’s where the traces ended. That’s perfection.

    As you noted, for the ATF, F&F was about domestic gun control. The fact that the CIA had bigger plans in no way lets ATF off the hook for its cynical and illegal exploitation of the violence in Mexico, culminating in the deaths of two American law enforcement agents. Unlike the CIA, who can make the claim that what they did for for country, the ATF did what they did just to screw us.

  5. Colonel Ross still wore an expression which showed the poor opinion which he had formed of my companion’s ability, but I saw by the inspector’s face that his attention had been keenly aroused.
    “You consider that to be important?” he [Inspector Gregory] asked.
    “Exceedingly so.”
    “Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”
    “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”
    “The dog did nothing in the night-time.”
    “That was the curious incident,” remarked Sherlock Holmes.
    The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1893)
    Inspector Gregory and Sherlock Holmes in “Silver Blaze” (Doubleday p. 346-7)

  6. The ATF and all those that aided and abetted the criminal conspiracy to sell guns to Mexican Gangs will still be held liable even years from now as there is no statute of limitations on murder. There has been over 150 Mexican and United States Police Officers murdered with those guns, the people responsible will be in a court of law eventually, these lawless bureaucrats of Obama’s will be getting justice. They were part of a murder conspiracy to discredit our very Constitution and Bill of Rights, those that help cover this up will be doing a lot of time in prison either here or in Mexico.

  7. This entire fiasco was an attempt to garner support for more restrictive firearms laws in the U.S. Remember THE WON told us HE was working for anti-gun legislation “under the radar”. To me, the CIA’s motives remain unclear. The “iron river” could’ve be stopped at anytime. The firearms dealers complied with U.S. law, but were ensured by the ATF, et al, to complete sales to straw buyers. We now have an administration that is at war with the rule of law.

    I’m not optimistic about this situation’s outcome. The CriminalLiberalNewsMedia will not, in any meaningful way, investigate any of this. The Lib-Cong in the Congress and Senate will do their best/worst to maintain a coverup to protect THE WON. In the end, the “usual supects” will blame all of this on George W. Bush.

    • President Obama made the “under the radar” comment to members of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence during a post-Loughner spree killing “gun summit” (boycotted by the gun rights community). The get-together went down months after Gunwalker broke.

      Even if we accept this comment as fact—and we only have the Brady’s word that Obama said any such thing—the Prez was pandering. How could ANY presidential initiative in gun control fly “under the radar” of the NRA and ahem TTAG?

      The ATF’s illegal long gun registry for southern gun dealers was in the works long before Fast and Furious broke.

      Anyway, you’re right that the administration doesn’t seem to understand the concept of the rule of law. But it’s not war. It’s a simple matter of contempt. IMHO.

  8. This is the first gunner site focusing on Fast and Furious that has taken on the DEA. Bravo!

    The War On Drugs is an important element of the War On Guns.

  9. How could ANY presidential initiative in gun control fly “under the radar” of the NRA and ahem TTAG?

    Simple. Use the War On Drugs as a tool. Most of the time gunners never notice.

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