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In ATF Death Watch 63, ATF Special Agent in Charge Dewey Webb and U.S. Attorney John E. Murphy bemoaned the loss of innocent life caused by smugglers sending American gun store guns to Mexican drug cartels. The same activity conducted by the ATF during Operation Fast and Furious. Here’s the punchline: the gun smuggling in question—involving Columbus, New Mexico police chief Angelo Vega [above] and 15 co-conspirators—may have been ATF-enabled . . .

What’s more, the U.S. Attorney’s office has cut a deal with 13 of those charged with illegal firearms purchases and related crimes. The defendants faced 280 years in prison. Each. As part of their plea, the sentences will run concurrently. They’re going down for five to 10 years. In exchange for . . .

Regular readers of this series might suspect that the police chief and his gun smuggling crew caught a break in exchange for their silence on Operation Fast and Furious. Which would presume that they knew that the firearms in question—some 200 rifles and handguns—were amongst those the ATF let “walk” into Mexico. Presuming the firearms were part of the ATF’s stingless sting.

The public information officer whose name appears on yesterday’s celebratory press release ain’t sayin’ if Vega’s straw dogs were buying at the ATF’s behest—whether knowingly or unknowingly. Clock this from

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Texas on has neither confirmed nor denied whether the weapons in Gutierrez’s case were connected with the controversial [Operation Fast and Furious] sting, but said Thursday they were researching the matter.

Still? When asked the same question a month ago to the day, ATF spokesman Daryl Fields said the same thing. Note: the ATF could trace the weapons confiscated as part of the New Mexican case in ten minutes. Here’s an indication that there is, at the least, “overlap”:

Six of the smuggled weapons – three AK-47-type pistols and three pistols nicknamed “cop killers” — were purchased around Jan. 9, 2010, by straw purchasers in Arizona, according to court documents, leading to accusations from defense attorney C.J. McElhinney that the Columbus smuggling case was connected to Operation Fast and Furious.

TTAG’s put in a call to Mr. Fields for clarification. We’d also like to know how many of the guns in the New Mexico case were recovered and how many are still out there, somewhere . . .

In raids, law enforcement seized 40 of the AK-47 type pistols, more than 1,500 rounds of ammunition and 30 high-capacity magazines before they crossed the border, and found another 12 firearms in Mexico that were traced back to the defendants. Three others were found on three dead individuals in an SUV in Juárez, and others were found at a narcotics bust there, according to federal prosecutors.

Yes, well, who was shooting whom with these weapons and why? If the guns were used against Los Zetas, that would be a reasonable indication that the ATF was involved (Los Zetas being our least favored cartel). If drug thugs uses some of these rifles to ice ICE Agent Jaime Zapata inside Mexico, that’s another story.

How about some intel guys? Meanwhile, there’s one non-fed who might know whether or not the New Mexican gun smuggling was connected to the ATF: the ring-leader. Igancio “Nacho” Villalobos. Only he’s not available for interview . . .

The lawyer for one of Villalobos’ co-conspirator told TTAG that he’s seen photographic proof that the ATF had ALL the members of the New Mexican gun running ring under surveillance before the feds swooped down and made their arrests. Strange, then, that Villalobos, and Villalobos alone, managed to escape.

What are the odds? And what are the odds that Villalobos was a running a gun smuggling op in New Mexico that was both independent and parallel to the ATF’s Arizona and Tampa-based gun smuggling efforts?

As we said from the start of Senator Grassley and Congressman Issa’s investigation into the so-called Gunwalker scandal, the pols needs to [find and] interview the people at the sharp end of this black bag job.

While I’m not scanning the skies for black helicopters (yet), Uncle Sam’s minions are circling the wagons, attempting to keep a lid on who know who did what with which gun from what source and why.

Not to put too fine a point on it, this is looking like one big ass conspiracy. Here’s the list of people involved with yesterday’s Vega-related high five:

The investigation was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) with assistance from the Comandante Chihuahua State Police in Palomas, Mexico and the Secretariat of Public Security in Juarez, Mexico. The U.S. Marshal’s Service, U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, New Mexico State Police, Las Cruces Police Department, El Paso Police Department as well as other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies also provided assistance during the investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Greg McDonald and Steven Spitzer.

Obviously, the agencies involved were compartmentalized. (One of the reasons the Gunwalker scandal broke: the ATF didn’t tell agents at the sharp end why they shouldn’t bust smugglers before American gun store guns crossed the border.) McDonald and Spitzer may not even know the truth about U.S. government-sponsored gun smuggling.

But they might. Congress should ask, before the ATF and their helpers tie-up all the loose ends.

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    • The big picture: it’s a fight for control of Mexico. Look for more cartel terrorism in the run-up to the 2012 elections. Followed by martial law. Followed by a military coup. More as Ralph and I gather data.

      • I’d like to argue with you that you’re wrong, that Mexico can and will shake itself loose from this, but as a student of Latin American history, I can’t. Mexico’s heritage has been one of perpetual despotisms followed by revolutions that wind up doing nothing but putting another set of despots in power.

        And this breaks my heart. No country’s people deserve such a fate, especially the people of Mexico whom I love dearly.

        • “especially the people of Mexico whom I love dearly”

          I’m with you 100%. Mexicans are lovely people who always displayed extraordinary hospitality to this gringo. They sure as hell don’t deserve this mess.

  1. This moron isn’t going to prison because he armed Mexican terrorists. He’s going to prison because he armed the *wrong* Mexican terrorists.

    Vera funneled guns to La Linea, a faction of the Juarez cartel composed mostly of crooked Mexican cops. The Juarez cartel used to be in cahoots with the Sinaloa gang (much favored by Presidente Calderon) but they had a falling-out when the Sinaloas refused to pay a tax, “derecho de piso,” for drug shipments to cross Juarez gang territory.

    If Vera had been funneling guns to the Sinaloas, he probably would have gotten a medal from the ATF and CIA.

    The Mexican government has been cracking down on the Juarez cartel and La Linea in particular, but isn’t it interesting how they *NEVER* try to rein in the Sinaloas? Calderon seems to be little more than a puppet at this point.

  2. Fast and Furious has NOTHING to do with Drug Cartels. It was and is a Obama/Clinton/Holder operation to provide an excuse for the illegal seizure of lawfully held guns of American Citizens within the borders of the USA. Clinton kicked it off with her lie that 90% of guns used by drug cartels were American and illegally supplied. This was not true until the ATF made it so. Thus; Fast and Furious. This is on Obama and Hillary Clinton and their desire to strip Americans of their Constitutional Rights. They have committed murder and the MSM covers it up for them. My God, what reprehensible whores are the Press. The “Noble 4th Estate”??? Ha Ha Ha

    • That’s one theory. And it’s not mutually exclusive to the idea that the CIA and the rest wanted to arm the Sinaloas (and friends) against Los Zetas.

  3. Ya but The Rule of Law is for us little people, like Hobbits and Tea Party Patriots.

    But I’m repeating myself here, as the Dept. of Homeland Security, has classified white, and black, law abiding productive concerned Americans as terrorists.

    My government is completely, irretrievably, out of control. It no longer represents me, my country, nor my Liberty. It is a monster, run and operated, by the worst scum humanity is capable of producing.

    This article is a cross section of how corrupt, how morally bankrupt, how criminal in nature and act, how savage those in positions of power throughout the entire system are.
    Of how far above the law and accountability government has become.

    At every level, government has devolved into a mob, an organized crime syndicate in everything but name.

    As for sure, if I was to perpetrate and or commit the transgressions and or crimes that have become normal and standard operating procedures of the elected and appointed figures in this country I would be spending my life behind the bars of a prison cell.

    It is testimony to the magnitude of the cultural corruption permeating our system of government that in the first instance this egregious level of crime and immorality exists.

    The lucid thought that comes to mind to all this is this can only be the tip of the iceberg. That if these are the ones who are caught or exposed, just how many tyrants crooks and thieves are getting away with things like this. Simply because they have gotten away with their crimes, and no less those who are the gate keepers are undoubtedly as guilty, or even more so of crimes and corruption as those apprehended.

    But in every instance it is possible to foist on me and my law abiding fellow Americans, the very basis of Liberty, our 1st and second Amendment Liberties are reason to suspect and paint me as a criminal.
    Because I only want to protect and defend what is my natural born freedoms and God given rights, which in every concept of Liberty are provided for circumstances as these crimes and treason committed against me by those in position of trust and power who have absolutely no intention nor belief in honoring such trust and Rule of Law.

    No how insane is this I ask you my fellow Americans?

    And what really bakes my noodle is this simple truth: The very checks and balances of our Constitutional Republic, more precisely those entrusted to uphold these paramount rules of law and moral conduct, are the very ones involved in perpetrating these acts of treason and tyranny.
    That is what they are, acts of Treason and Tyranny.
    Do we as Americans have to resort to the ultimate form of Constitutional redress to protect our lives and Liberty from such criminals and tyrants in our midst’s?
    Do we?
    Because who is left to uphold the system of checks and balances?
    I’m not seeing or hearing anything worthy from those with the means to do so in our government of our Republics founding and the founders who put such redress in place for times such as these.
    Is it going to come to that?
    It is a question on millions of Americans minds.

  4. In this Columbus NM/El Paso TX case alone:
    In total, 214 firearms (210 pistols, 4 rifles) were involved:
    Bottom Line: As of March 8, 2011, One Hundred Fifty-Eight pistols and four rifles unaccounted for. Forty AK-47-type pistols seized or intercepted; Ten AK-47-type pistols “found in Mexico”; Two other handguns “found in Mexico”(Ruger .45 pistols).
    Missing by type as of March 8, 2011 are:
    AK47-type Pistols: 73
    FN 5.7: 4
    American Tactical 9 mm: 76
    Delton 5.56 mm RIFLE: 1
    AK 47-type RIFLE: 2
    TP 9 mm: 1
    Tarus .22: 1
    KelTec .380: 1
    Unknown Make and SN .45 cal handgun: 1
    Unknown Make and Model Handgun: 1
    Unknown Make and Model RIFLE: 1
    Any updated information since March 8 is not accounted for in the above figures.

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