Operation Fast and Furious was a small piece of a larger puzzle. Although the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ “Guns for Goons” program furthered the ATF’s pro-gun control, empire-building agenda, the Agency-instigated gun running aided, abetted and armed the Sinaloa cartel against their deadly rivals Los Zetas. (The former being the more U.S. and Mexican government friendly international criminal conspiracy.) ATF DW 157 highlighted the testimony of captured Los Zetas “logistics coordinator” Victor Zambada-Niebla, who said exactly that. New evidence from WikiLeaks [via elpasotimes.com] provides confirmation . . .
The info comes from emails written by the recently hacked intelligence agency Stratfor. [Click here to read.] The first revelation: Stratfor claims they got the Fast and Furious ball rolling by tipping off the ATF to gun smuggler Manuel Solis Acosta.
“(Twenty) people were arrested and 34 total indictments” came from the Fast and Furious investigation and arrests executed on Jan. 25, said Stratfor analyst Fred Burton in an email to fellow analyst Marko Papic. “A big deal. The investigation started thanks to intel that we shared with ATF.”
That’s an interesting tie-up but not a particularly damning piece of information. It should be noted that Stratfor is, by it nature, self-aggrandizing and solidly pro-ATF. [Burton: “the ATF has always been a red haired step child hated by everyone to include the NRA, FBI and Texas gun nuts. I interned at ATF while in college.”]
Also, judging from the email, Stratfor’s not exactly wired-into the ATFs inner workings or playing with a full deck of stats on cartel armaments. All that said, here’s the bombshell:
The Stratfor email said [Manuel Acosta] Solis “went out and got 3 main straw purchasers. These 3 guys then went on to recruit (on average) 14 people each. They made contact with El Compa who runs a restaurant in El Paso immediately off (Interstate 10).” “At this restaurant, in the back,” the email goes on to say, “is a warehouse, where all the guns were later sent to SINALOA (the Joaquin ‘Chapo’ Guzman drug cartel).”
And there it is in black and white: through Operation Fast and Furious, the ATF was helping arm the Sinaloa cartel. Question: was that the plan or a byproduct of the plan?
It’s hard to know. As we saw when the ATF attempted to take U.S. gun dealers to court for allowing illegal purchases that the ATF had approved, information about F&F within the agency was compartmentalized. Not to mention the importance of incompetence.
ATF Special Agent Hope McCallister seems to have been completely clueless when Solis was nabbed for ammo smuggling (with a list of firearms for “killer”). She released him with her number scribbled on a $10 bill and a promise that he would be a good boy.
On the other side of the conspiracy coin, we have Zambada-Niebla’s testimony. We also know that the DEA was laundering millions of dollars for the Mexican cartels. And yet, as analyst Burton asserted, there’s no love lost between the ATF, the FBI or any other of Uncle Sam’s agency alphabet soup. A proper conspiracy requires some level of cooperation.
As one of my contacts said, America’s foreign policy towards Mexico is all smoke and mirrors. Perhaps the Congressional investigation into Fast and Furious can illuminate a few dark corners. In fact, I have every reason to believe that their revelations about Uncle Sam’s involvement with the Sinaloa cartel will be this election cycle’s “October surprise.” Well, I can hope.