Journalism in the Public Interest


As U.S. Guns Turn Up in Mexico, Justice Dept. Under Fire for Flubbing Anti-Smuggling Program

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives—or ATF—is under the gun yet again.

Mexican police recently conducted a raid in Ciudad Juarez, a hotspot for the drug trade, and they swept up a cache of weapons. Among that cache? At least five assault rifles linked to a secretive anti-smuggling operation by ATF, reported the Wall Street Journal. Critics and ATF whistleblowers have for months claimed that the operation—dubbed “Fast and Furious”—has backfired.

The questions about Fast and Furious were first reported by CBS News and iWatch in March, and noted by us at the time. According to whistleblower accounts, ATF supervisors told agents not to seize weapons sold to suspected low-level smugglers but to track them instead, in hopes of dismantling drug rings and netting ringleaders.

The whistleblowers claim this strategy allowed thousands of weapons to pass into Mexico and fall into the hands of criminals. Prior to the latest discovery of these five weapons, other guns that the ATF had flagged as suspect had been linked to the killing of U.S. Border Patrol agents.

The Justice Department—which oversees ATF—has denied some of the specifics about the Fast and Furious operation, though many of the details are still sketchy.

The Journal notes that Attorney General Eric Holder told lawmakers last month that the Department has barred ATF and other agencies from using such tactics, and its policy is to stop guns from being smuggled to Mexico. As we’ve noted, the Justice Department had some more specific denials in March. Back then, Justice sent a letter to Sen. Chuck Grassley, stating that ATF “makes every effort” to prevent arms smuggling into Mexico and has never sanctioned or "knowingly allowed the sale of assault weapons to a straw purchaser who then transported them into Mexico."

Since questions about the program were first reported, the Obama administration has distanced itself from the whole operation. "We don’t have all the facts," President Obama told a Univision reporter in March. “I did not authorize it. Eric Holder, the attorney general, did not authorize it. He’s been very clear that our policy is to catch gunrunners and put them into jail.”

The Justice Department’s inspector general is currently investigating. Several Republican lawmakers—namely, Sen. Chuck Grassley and Rep. Darrell Issa—have also launched Congressional probes. Issa has subpoenaed documents

Let me get this straight: the ATF’s secret anti-smuggling operation was successful, but it proved we’re successful at failing to catch gunrunners.

Most of the guns in or going in to Mexico, and the needed bullets etc. for, didn’t come from the FBI program, they’re coming from gunshops and gunshop owners selling in mass to gun runners, guns go in drugs come out!!!!!!

I’d like for someone to tell me when was the last time that anyone could buy an fully automatic (i.e., ‘machine gun’) from an American gun shop?  Or rocket launchers?  How about grenades?  When was the last time?  Never.  I’m not denying that there isn’t gun running from the US to Mexico but they are not military grade weapons.  South and Central America, not to mention Asia, etc. is awash in military grade weapons.  Think maybe there are other sources besides the US?  Something to consider.  Undoubtedly many of the military grade weapons of US origin are through official channels transferring from the US government to the Mexican government who seem to have difficulties in accountability (i.e., deserting Mexican soldiers, etc.)  Has the popular media actually considered these sources and causes?  No, of course not.  Why?  Because beating up on America ‘sells’ and it gets the anti gun lobby all hot and bothered and provides yet more fodder for endless congressional hearings, etc.

When will the U.S. “puritanical” state awaken to the fact that “control” of substances (such as alcohol and drugs) is far better than a “war” against them. Not only are millions of dollars flowing into the hands of thuggish drug dealers, our failed “war against drugs” is an additional drain on the treasury, along with proliferating gun usage among drug dealers. Shall we continue to build a world more heavily populated by “Al Capone” types; and further spread the idea that “power flows from the barrel of guns?”

Reasonable people would look at these facts, and come to the conclusion that this is ineffectual, and petition the ATF to stop this insanity before any more of our federal agents are gunned down. But when Katie Couric ran the story, there was no followup or interest whatsoever, and it had a crying friend of one of the agents who was killed using ATF’s Fast and Furious AK-47’s. Now, if the American people can sit through that, a hard hitting, overproduced story on the nightly news, and not react.. how do you suppose you get anything other than “more of the same”. Wake up people.

Follow the money.

Follow the drugs. The drug demand is on this side of the border though the USA never wants to admit it. The drug suppliers need guns to protect their crops and ensure delivery that would mean that these guns where provided buy the big buck drug buyers.

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