Maybe you thought that Fast and Furious, the Obama administration ATF operation that moved guns across the border into Mexico, was a thing of the distant past. Apparently not. Fast and Furious was reportedly shut down by the Obama Justice Department in 2011 when the whole disaster spilled into public view and resulted in deaths on both sides of the border, including US Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
The sitting Attorney General at the time, Barack Obama wingman Eric Holder, was eventually held in contempt of Congress over his lack of cooperation with the subsequent investigation. Holder was never held to account for his part in either starting what the media loved to call a “botched sting operation” or his attempt to cover up its genesis and real purpose.
Fast and Furious gave the corrupt Mexican government a convenient talking point by letting them blame a lot of their cartel-fueled violent crime problems on the US and American gun manufacturers.
That would be funny, if it weren’t so ludicrous. The Mexican army “loses” one-third of its small arms every year. The really hilarious aspect of that is the country’s foreign minister and its government as a whole were named the Arms Control Persons of the Year in 2021 by the Arms Control Association. You can stop laughing now.
It seems, however, that at least some ATF employees may not have stopped moving guns south when F&F tumbled into public view. A little-noticed Reuters report yesterday details that a Mexican ATF employee was still trafficking guns illegally as late as 2017.
Jose Luis Meneses, a Mexican national who worked as an investigator for ATF at the U.S. Consulate in Tijuana, admitted to buying firearm parts online and at a California gun store and trafficking them into Mexico for profit back in 2017, according to the letter and an ATF memo from the time obtained by Reuters.
Well this is all very awkward.
The [Iowa Senator Charles] Grassley letter dated Oct. 18, which cites the 2017 ATF memo and information described as “whistleblower disclosures,” accused the agency of not conducting a full investigation into the matter.
“If these protected disclosures are true and accurate, they illustrate a failure by the ATF to hold its employees accountable for criminal misconduct.” …
Grassley’s letter also raised questions about how much information U.S. officials told their Mexican counterparts about the allegations of gun smuggling by the ATF employee, a point that could stoke tensions between the two countries.
Huh. That might complicate the effort by the Mexican government to sue American gun makers in an attempt to deflect blame and claim the manufacturers aren’t doing enough to stop the cross-border flow of guns.
“The embassy found out about suspicious activity, revoked compound access within a day, did an investigation, and fired him within a month. It’s terrible that it happened, but this is exactly how it’s supposed to work,” the official said.
The U.S. government “has no tolerance for that sort of behavior,” he added.
Well, the U.S. government doesn’t tolerate that sort of behavior any more. Allegedly. During the early days of the Obama administration’s first term, it not only tolerated it, the government also sanctioned and actively facilitated it.
Fast and Furious wasn’t just some kooky keystone cops, well-intentioned, but inept krazy sting operation gone wrong as it was so often described. The “gunwalking” weapon smuggling operation was an Obama administration attempt to justify stricter gun control laws north of the border that, thankfully, blew up in their faces.
And now it seems at least some of their employees didn’t stop after the F&F scandal went public.
[A] tip led U.S. officials to interrogate Meneses, who admitted to buying firearm parts in the U.S., smuggling them into Mexico and handing them off to his brother, a Mexican police officer, and a former Mexican soldier, according to the ATF memo.
ATF agents from the San Diego office then searched the post office box that Meneses said he used for the purchases, where they found assault-style rifle parts and high-capacity magazines, the memo said.
Meneses used a vehicle with diplomatic plates to avoid being searched at the border while smuggling the firearms, according to the letter. In total, Meneses said he bought enough parts to assemble eight AR-15 rifles, the memo said.
Meneses was placed on administrative leave and then terminated in April 2017, the memo said.
Not only did ATF reportedly fail to perform an internal investigation, but the Mexican government apparently wasn’t informed, either
The ATF memo is a detailed summary of Meneses’ case prepared by a top ATF official in Mexico at the time, and addressed to the then-head of Mexico’s specialized unit to investigate cases of terrorism and arms trafficking.
But it’s unclear whether the memo was ever sent.
On May 9, 2017, the ATF official sent an email to a top State Department official in Mexico saying that “ATF will not make any notifications to GOM (the government of Mexico).”
It isn’t difficult to figure out why ATF might be sensitive about letting it be known that its employees were still illegally trafficking guns across the border after all the black eyes the agency has suffered. Some things never seem to change.