While the George Zimmerman case sucks all the air out of the room marked “firearms-related news,” the ATF’s Fast and Furious scandal keeps to its below-the-radar flight path. That’s not to say that Representative Issa and Senator Grassley have abandoned their attempts to take the Obama administration to task for authorizing an extra-legal Guns for Goons program that led to the death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Agent Jaime Zapata and dozens if not hundreds of unnamed, unacknowledged Mexicans. Meanwhile, the U.S. Justice Department, ATF, FBI, DEA, CIA, ICE, DHS— an entire alphabet of federal agencies—are continuing their efforts to stonewall and obfuscate these investigations. Can you say “damage control”? If not, try this on for size . . .
A man accused of buying two rifles found at the scene of the fatal shooting of a federal agent near the Arizona-Mexico border is scheduled to change his plea Thursday in the federal government’s botched gun smuggling investigation known as Operation Fast and Furious.
Jaime Avila Jr. [above] faces charges of dealing guns without a license and making false statements in firearms purchases as an alleged member of a 20-person smuggling ring that’s accused of buying guns and smuggling them into Mexico for use by the Sinaloa drug cartel. Avila had previously pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Authorities say two AK-47 variants bought by Avila from a suburban Phoenix gun store were found in the aftermath of a December 2010 shootout that mortally wounded Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry near Nogales, Ariz.
azcentral.com’s report makes no mention of all the other low-level thugs caught up in the ATF’s Fast and Furious operation, which facilitated the illegal purchase of some 2000 firearms from U.S. gun stores. They too have pleaded out. In fact, not a single ATF-sponsored gun buyer has testified in front of a judge, jury or congressional committee as to how F&F actually operated.
The azcentral report highlights the importance of establishing the ATF’s exact crimes. Otherwise, bullshit like this becomes the accepted narrative:
Avila, who hasn’t been charged in Terry’s death, is accused in the gun smuggling case of claiming to buy five AK-47 variants and one .50-caliber rifle for himself when he was actually making the purchases on behalf of the ring.
Mexico’s drug cartels often seek out guns in America because gun laws in Mexico are more restrictive than in the United States.
The goal of the U.S. government’s gun smuggling investigation was to catch weapons-trafficking kingpins, but firearms agents lost track of many weapons they were trying to trace to smuggling ringleaders, and some guns ended up at crime scenes in Mexico and the U.S.
Regular readers of this series—or anyone keeping track of the U.S. government’s conspiracy to violate Mexico’s [theoretical] sovereignty and arm members of a terrorist organization—will know that the above account is misleading in every detail.
For one thing, there was no gun smuggling “ring.” The bad guys enabled by the ATF were a loose confederation of foot soldiers. Make that cartel members. Exactly which cartel or cartels is an interesting question. But there is no evidence whatsoever that there was a highly organized group of gun smugglers. And if there was, the ATF was organizing it.
Second, drug cartels do not “often” seek out guns in America. The “iron river” of U.S. gun store guns flowing to Mexican drug cartels has been thoroughly debunked and discredited. At best, it’s a trickle, especially when compared to the tens of thousands of guns that have “seeped” from the Mexican military and police to the narcoterrorists. Equally, the ATF sought out illegal purchasers, in some cases paying them money to buy guns illegally.
Third, the “goal of the U.S. government’s gun smuggling investigation” was not to “catch weapons-trafficking kingpins.” Again, there weren’t any weapons-trafficking kingpins. And if there were, no law enforcement operation aimed at catching smuggling would let the smugglers smuggle without tracking them. Hence there’s no way F&F could be considered a legitimate law enforcement investigation. Hence it wasn’t designed to be one.
Fast and Furious can only have been motivated by four “goals”: implicate U.S. gun store owners in firearms smuggling, arm cartel members, create a gun smuggling “crisis” that would pave the way for more draconian U.S. gun control regulation/legislation or create a justification for an expansion of the ATF. Or all of the above. Note: catching kingpins is not on that list.
Most egregious of all: the idea that Fast and Furious was a “botched” operation. No. The Bureau didn’t “lose track” of the guns later used to murder two federal agents and (literally) countless Mexicans. The ATF deliberately let the illegally purchased guns “walk” knowing they couldn’t trace the guns until the firearms were recovered from a crime scene. ATF agent Vince Cefalu testified in front of congress that his bosses ordered him to stand down when the agent was about to “lose track” of an F&F gun smuggler.
Not many people give a crap about Operation Fast and Furious anymore—to the point where the Obama administration’s lies seem to have won the “narrative war.” But the fighting’s in rounds. Issa and Grassley are still after U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s hide, and maybe President Obama too. They want to know who, what, when and where. But they also need to know how. Mark my words: pull on that thread and the whole mosaic of misdeeds will unravel.
UPDATE: The deals gone down. Here’s the latest from azcentral.com
Avila, 25, faces up to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to dealing guns without a federal license and conspiracy to deal guns without a license, make false statements in a gun purchase and smuggle goods out of the U.S. A sentencing hearing is set for June 25.
Prosecutor Timothy Coughlin told the judge that Avila served as a straw purchaser for the ring and bought 52 guns on its behalf, including two .50-caliber rifles, though the indictment charged him with buying six guns.
There was no mention during the hearing of Terry’s death or the guns found at the shootout scene.