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Throughout this series, I have asserted that “seepage” of U.S. military weapons sold to various and sundry Latin American countries and (shadowy proxies) over the last five decades account for the vast majority of weapons used by Mexican drug cartels. Not guns purchased in small amounts from U.S. gun stores, and then walked into Mexico by a procession of low level drug thugs—with or without the ATF’s help. That idea caught a bit of traction yesterday when ran the numbers for its audience. To Mr. Stilson’s most excellent analysis, I’d like to add a little something the gun grabbers call common sense. Here’s the question: why would they bother with gun store guns? Do you have any IDEA how much money the cartels are raking in from American consumers? Here’s a little taste (so to speak) . . .

The following info comes from Uncle Sam’s indictment of Victor Zambada-Niebla, a Sinaloa cartel jefe currently residing in a Chicago jail. Mr. Zambada-Niebla contends that the same feds who are trying to keep him in prison for the rest of his life helped his organization smuggle drugs into the U.S. Or at least turned many a blind eye, in exchange for intel on Los Zetas and others. Anyway, he’s still breathing (miraculously) and his trial is pending. Meanwhile, here’s the money shot [click here for the pdf]:

The proffered testimony of the Flores brothers regarding the collection and handling of cash narcotics proceeds is corroborated by multiple law enforcement money seizures in amounts consistent with the Flores’ brothers description of the volume of drugs and money involved in this conspiracy. Between October 29, 2008, and November 25, 2008, law enforcement seized a total of approximately $15,185,000 in cash narcotics proceeds directly related to the charged conspiracy, as described below [click here for the full pdf]:

  1. (1)  On or about April 14, 2008, law enforcement seized approximately $4,000,000 in United States currency in Palos Hills, Illinois;
  2. (2)  On or about October 29, 2008, law enforcement seized approximately $4,700,000 in United States currency in Hinsdale, Illinois;
  3. (3)  On or about November 4, 2008, law enforcement seized approximately $4,000,000 in United States currency in Hinsdale, Illinois;
  4. (4)  On or about November 17, 2008, law enforcement seized approximately $1,000,000 in United States currency in Romeoville, Illinois;
  5. (5)  On or about November 22, 2008, law enforcement seized approximately $715,000 in United States currency in Chicago, Illinois;6 and
  6. (6)  On or about November 25, 2008, law enforcement seized approximately $4,770,000 in United States currency in Romeoville, Illinois.

These seizures were the result of searches of money stash houses used by the Flores brothers and direct interactions with couriers for the Flores brothers and the Sinaloa Cartel. In furtherance of the investigation, a controlled delivery was made from law enforcement agents to couriers of the Sinaloa Cartel of the $4,000,000 recovered from a Flores brothers’ stash house in Hinsdale on November 4, 2008. In conducting the controlled delivery, DEA agents from Chicago transported the $4,000,000 to Los Angeles.

On November 12, 2008, this money was provided to couriers for the Sinaloa Cartel. Law enforcement maintained surveillance of the money and observed as it was taken to a warehouse and then subsequently loaded into a tractor trailer. On November 13, 2008, agents followed the tractor trailer as it left the Los Angeles area and drove to the U.S.-Mexico border. Agents observed the tractor trailer carrying the money across the border to Mexicali, Baja . . . 

The flow of this money is consistent with the Flores brothers description of how payments were made to the Sinaloa Cartel on a regular basis. The money was first collected from the Flores brothers’ narcotics customers as payment for drugs received; the money was then consolidated, counted, and packaged in a Flores brothers’ stash house; next the money was transported from Chicago to Los Angeles, where it was provided to couriers of the Sinaloa Cartel; and finally, the money was smuggled across the border into Mexico to be delivered to the Sinaloa Cartel as payment for the Flores brothers’ running debt.

Just so we’re clear: that $15m represents one month’s take exported to Mexico by one cartel from one U.S. region. That “income stream alone” is/was worth $180 million in cash money per year. Oh, and it’s not the same Sinaloan stash (another $15m) confiscated by the Mexican military yesterday, as chronicled in the video above.

So, do you really think Mexican drug cartels need/needed to commission a [relative] handful of straw buyers to walk into U.S. gun stores and then purchase and smuggle some 2000 guns in [relative] dribs and drabs?

Who, if anyone, was the ATF trying to snare with Operation Fast and Furious? And if you can answer that question, why didn’t the Bureau arrest a single sole until after U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was shot and killed by drug thugs wielding ATF-enabled firearms?

This is our government acting or failing to act in or name. We deserve to know the truth. And by God, someday we will.

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  1. Good post, and one that raises good questions with respect to the low-budget F&F operation compared to the sheer amount of money available to the cartels and governments.

    If, as one theory posits, Fast and Furious was done to suppress 2a rights, it could make sense since these 2,000 or so guns would be highly traceable to a U.S. point-of-sale and virtually guaranteed to show up at South-of-the-Border crime scene.

    Assuming this theory, F&F could have been sold by those lower on the food chain to those higher in the DOJ as a relatively simple, low-cost, low-risk (in theory), high-reward (in theory) operation.

    Couple the inevitability of these guns showing up, along with the tens of thousands of Mexican deaths (by these guns or others – it’s emotional, so it doesn’t really matter when it comes to our Pravda-on-the-Potomac anti-gun media), and it’s a gun-grabber’s dream.

    It almost worked. In fact, some are still trying to make it work by calling for more $ for the ATF and more restrictive gun laws.

    • Question: if we go by that theory, did the ATF really think it could keep a lid on “helpful” US gun stores? Remember that Badger Guns squealed when [another part of] the ATF punished the gun store for allowing straw purchases–before Terry was murdered.

      And did they not foresee the potential blowback on US soil (predicted by their own agents at the sharp end)? Were they that arrogant and stupid?

  2. Robert, I think you’re leading yourself back to the idea the operation wasn’t much more than a way to subvert the Second Amendment.

    If the cartels don’t need walked guns, then why did the various agencies allow guns to walk?

    The leftists are calling for more gun control laws even after the facts about Fast and Furious start coming out.

    It’s almost a “tails I win, heads you lose” scenario. Guns go across the border and are traced back to American gun shops, more gun control. Guns go across the border with government blessing, kill a few people, the program is outed, still evidence that more gun control is needed.

    Remember, according to all gun grabbers, if we had a gun free society, these types of things wouldn’t happen.

    Caveat: gun grabbers think guns should only be in the hands of government sanctioned entities.

  3. It sounds like the Feds never tried to intercept the money going to the cartels in Mexico. Controlled Delivery. Nice! I guess they use the transaction info for future arrests????

  4. The cartels sure don’t “need” Bob’s to supply them with guns. But the street-level dopes — oops, I meant dupes — who do muscle work for the cartels need guns. Just like Mafia street thugs in the US, the street guys in Mexican or US border towns don’t get their guns from their dons. They get guns from anywhere and everywhere they can. They steal them or buy them from buddies in the military or on the street. Finding US sources must have seemed like Christmas every day to the Sinaloa-allied street gunsels.

  5. it’s a double edged sword. if you make this argument, then you can’t say that brian terry would be alive today if it wasn’t for F&F. well you can but it kinda makes you a hypocrite.

  6. Was the Administration trying to frame American gun owners for the violence in Mexico, which the Administration itself was actively helping along, as a pretext for gun resgistration here? You can only hope our government is not that diseased.

    But if you remember that Leftists love power and hate liberty, you’ll always know what they’re up to.

    • Just a FYI but the right loves power, hates liberty and wants gun control just as much. The almighty Reagan banned carrying guns in California and openly supported the Brady Bill. He illegally gave arms to Iran, and used the profits to illegally fund the Contras. Then Bush 1 pardoned several administration officials responsible for the program. How about republican NYC mayor Giuliani, he enacted plenty of gun control. And his successor, Bloomberg, who was elected on the Republican ticket, was the founder of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. This is just a handful of examples with plenty more if you look around online. But of course, keep on supporting the left-right paradigm, and keep on voting these assholes in.

        • Lot’s of folks hold the view that Left and Right, Democrat and Republican, generalities are distinctions without differences, lesser of two evils, etc. Reagan and Giuliani never did anything approaching what Clinton and the Democrat Congress attempted. GWB and the Republican Congress were downright friendly by comparison. But to the extent we’re dealing with lessers of evil, count my vote for less evil.

          • So its ok for someone to bang you in the ass, so long as they use a little lube, and start off gentle? Come on honey, just the tip.

  7. IS it just me, or does the document on p.26 (partially quoted in the TTAG excerpt) describe the DEA walking $4 mil along to Mexico, just to prove the money was going to Mexico?

    I mean, did they even get a perfunctory gracias out of this? Doesn’t look that way.

    What’s next? I’m just waiting for some bright spark at DHS/DOJ to figure out how cool this technique would go over with Iran and Pu-239.

  8. “This is our government acting or failing to act in or name. We deserve to know the truth. And by God, someday we will.”

    Not if the government and news media have anything to say about it.

  9. So that leaves as a reason they were trying to create the impression gun stores were recklessly selling guns to drug dealers. Only a ban or increased restrictions could therefore address this.

  10. The cartels have access to military grade weapons they don’t need US civilian market firearms.
    However, as David Codrea and Mike Vanderboegh have proven, the Obama regime does need them to have waffen BATFEces supplied, US sourced guns as a pretext for a gun control push.

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