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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.’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

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.

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  1. Sounds like flak to me.

    Now the DOJ will point to the “gun smuggling ring” and claim that they “got them” since they’ve all plead guilty. Next they’ll claim that it is the lax gun laws that allowed this ring get their hands on these weapons and insist on more regulation.

    The media will run with this spin and the sheep will buy it all. Those mean republicans are just out to get Holder’s “people” after all.

    Cue circus music…

  2. BHO’s press conference this afternoon:

    “I am pleased to announce that our long national nightmare is over!”

    (Cheers from adoring crowd.)

    I kept my faith in our Attorney General, and I was not disappointed!

    ( More cheers.)

    Operation Fast and Furious was said by many to be a failure, but to those with patience, it is now one more in a long string of victories for Attorney General Holder!

    And so I am proud to announce that, as I begin to campaign for the election to the presidency within the next few months, I will be joined by Mr. Holder, who has consented to be my Vice President for my second great term!

    (More cheers. Some retching.)

  3. What we need to watch carefully, as I expect President Urkel to lose in November in a big way, are the pardons he hands out as he leaves town. It could easily be that these guys were promised that if they took their medicine like big boys, they’d be given pardons come January of 2013.

    • To be honest, I am much less worried about the pardoning of corrupt Obama flunkies than I am about Romney’s record on gun rights.

        • He did say, before the New Hampshire primary, that he has no intention of changing federal gun laws. It’s Romney or Obama. How hard is that choice?

          • Ralph summed it up well in an earlier post: He went along with the so-called permanent Assault Weapon ban. He made the duration of carry permits somewhat better. In the interest of full-disclosure, I was for Romney against McCain (reasons available upon request), and given the choice of Romney, Santorum, Gingrich, and Obama, I support Romney’s campaign. Better at law than Obama (please release his grades), better at Business than Bush 43. Good god we need a smart president now. One word: China.

      • Perhaps, but I think it unlikely that Romney would undertake tactics like Obama/Holder did/do. The damage that Obama has done on all other fronts is to me so overwhelming that I might regard Romney as the lesser of two evils (as many already do).

        • Gun control is just a piece of the Pie for Obama!
          OBAMA and the administration motive is to destroy the United States Republic in every way he can. Disarmament of America and dismantling of the constitution are just parts of his project. Putting America in Debt and destroying our ability to defend ourselves militarily is another part. Education and Religion are more parts to this NONE puzzle. Think about it. This administration is so far left that even voters in the center if they are not communists, socialist, malcontents anarchists etc. are considered by these morons as right wingers. He and they are doing a pretty good job. Its not only gun control people, Wake up! Its Americas very existence as a free country.

        • Agree. And he and his cabinet have been rehearsing that Carpenters favorite, “We’ve Only Just Begun.”

  4. HIJACK: Here’s a piece about the state of Maryland appealing the recent Woolard v. Sheridan case (where a judge struck the Maryland law that required gun permit applicants to show a “good and substantial reason” they needed a gun).

    I think it is a good thing they are appealing. One of these cases needs to make it to the Supreme Court so they can explicitly rule that the second amendment protects the right to bear arms outside the home, and maybe even to decide which level of scrutiny such laws should be given (at least two courts have applied intermediate scrutiny to laws restricting handgun possession outside the home).

    Sorry to hijack again, but these cases seem rather important, considering the mission of this site. Maybe Ralph should take on the roll of Legal Blogger Extraordinaire…

    • There’s a lot of competition for that title on this site. We have more lawyers than the New York Law Journal.

      • Why don’t The Powers That Be at TTAG blog about these second amendment cases? This one linked above is just a notice of appeal, admittedly, but a couple of days ago, district court in IL ruled IL’s law banning the carrying of an operable gun to be consistent with the second amendment. I think that makes IL the only state in the union where you can’t carry under any circumstances (?). This seems like the sweet spot for TTAG, along with technical gun info from knowledgeable folks (like the giant I say giant rooster).

        • For often-excellent coverage of gun rights issues you might enjoy They cover many other legal issues, but when a gun case comes up, they do a good job with it, legally speaking. is another. For what gun laws ought to be and why, don’t change the channel.

  5. The Arizona Republic is a miserable excuse for a paper. Ever since the Arizona Gazette folded they’re the only major player and take full advantage to push their liberal views. Liberal editorialist Montini and raging liberal cartoonist Benson do their best every day to demonize anything conservative. I remember years back they did a full on endorsement of a fella running against Arpaio. Not an editorial mind you, a full on, full page hatchet job on Arpaio while totally slutting up to Saban. I’m no lover of Arpaio but any semblance of objectivity was absent from that piece. I know, I know, I shouldn’t expect objectivity from a major paper and don’t but that piece was over the top even for the Republic.

  6. Now you are starting to sound like all the Trayvon Martin “journalists, raising and ranting about an issue that had nothing at all to do with the Avila case. What Avila did–straw purchases–were illegal, whether or not BATF allowed the guns to walk. He was not entrapped. The crimes he committed, and to which he plead guilty, could be proved irrespective of any conduct by BATFE, legal or illegal; BATFE’s conduct would not be a defense, nor was it even discoverable, in connection with the crimes alleged.
    Further, most criminal defendants–over 90%–plead out. The way the system is, defendants who force a trial are usually subject to more severe penalties than those who plead, an incentive necessary to keep the criminal justice system from collapsing from too much input. So the fact that all these guys copped pleas is hardly surprising. So can you explain to us of lesser intellect why you are attacking a newspaper reported for failing to address issues that were of no real moment to the news story presented?

      • Local law enforcement does this every day, serving as an accessory via confidential informants and undercovers, who may provide all the necessities to commit the crime, even the motivational talks. But if the perp has done it before or expressed a desire to, he’s usually stuck. I agree, of course, philosophically.

    • Because F&F was by and large centered in Arizona. The Republic gives it barely a word and if it does it’s a slanted piece like this one. Brian Terry was an Arizonan and the weapons were purchased at a Phoenix gun shop. That asswipe Avila killed one of our own and as such this piece is eminently relevant to an Arizona newspaper’s coverage. I don’t give the Republic my money but a relative I live with does so I read it every single day. I can attest to the pittance of coverage F&F gets here.

  7. I really don’t think “Death Watch” is appropriate any longer. Boehner has pulled the strings sufficiently that the ATF is emerging from this saga with nary a black eye.

  8. While the George Zimmerman case sucks all the air out of the room marked “firearms-related news”

    Speaking of which, this fellow Jaime Avile, is, well, even more a white Hispanic than that other white Hispanic. This whole “whitening” of Hispanics seems a bit unfair, an attempt to dilute the claim of their ethnicity. Almost racist, really. One step away from denying them minority status. We don’t call our chief exective “the first light-skinned black president who (Joe Biden) smells good.” It also strikes me as moderately unfair to prosecute someone for having a gun which DoD wanted him to have and sell onward, no? I’ll bet they didn’t even provide him with the requisite “Name of Cartel Boss to whom this is being sold” reporting form.

    • Hispanic is an ethnic identity, mainly based on national origin and language, not a race. There are white Hispanics, black Hispanics, even Asian Hispanics (Peru had a President named Alberto Fujimori, who was born in Peru).

      It’s actually a pretty fuzzy concept, with a lot hazy edges. For example, under some definitions Brazilians are Hispanics, and under others, they’re not. People disagree whether the Spanish and Portuguese are Hispanic, or if you have to be from the Americas. If you don’t have to be from the Americas, and if you include Portuguese speakers, do you include Lusophones from other regions of the world, such as Angola or East Timor? Are they Hispanics as well?

      Using the narrowest definition can get weird as well. You get a situation where someone’s grandfather and grandmother weren’t Hispanic, because they were from Spain, but when they moved to Argentina, their kids could be Hispanic because they would be from the Americas.

      Yeah, it’s all pretty weird.

      • Interesting. As a pale Anglo, I don’t like the qualification of Hispanic as white. We don’t qualify ‘black’ that way, and if we did Jesse would be all over us. For five or six years my main tennis practice partner has been an IT executive born in La (or A) Caruña, Spain, raised in Puerto Rico, university in the states. Is he, laugh, Hispanic? I see what you mean.

        • And you could say that all of the Indians aren’t Hispanic at all cause there isn’t any hispanola in them.

          • Well, North American Indians where Spanish influence did not exist would not at all be Hispanic. Knowing the Cherokee rather well, they would be offended in people stating they were Hispanic.

  9. I think Hispanic may be more cultural than racial. I suppose we associate people with brown skin, brown eyes, black hair, and mongolian race features as Hispanic or Latin American, but that is not always true.
    I went to school with an exchange student from Peru who was very upper crust and had polo ponies. He had blue eyes, sandy hair, and very pale skin. I actually was somewhat shocked that people like this existed in South America, but they do.
    I thought European Spaniards were darker as well, but some look almost more Scandinavian than as the Moors. You really can tell the Spaniards that have Moorish extraction though. Spain has more of a range of peoples than what I ever thought. A lot of different languages as well. In Spain, they actually have Spanish classes as a lot of the kids do not speak Spanish, and a lot of people do not speak Spanish very well.

  10. I just wonder about this pardoning Obama at the end of his term. Of course Hilary would. I can only hope the conservative side takes him to task for violating so many laws. It’s only what he deserves!

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