Operation Fast and Furious – Another Update
Administration Out Of Control?
WOW! Is this administration out of control, or what? First, in 2009, the ATF office in Phoenix, Arizona, sold weapons to gun buyers, in an operation known as “Fast and Furious,” hoping to track them to weapons buyers traffickers along the southwestern border and into Mexico. But then the operation went terribly wrong. On December 15, 2010, U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was shot and killed during an effort to catch several bad guys targeting illegal immigrants in Arizona. When law enforcement came to the scene, they discovered two of the killers’ assault rifles were among those sold as part of Operation Fast and Furious, which was shut down after Terry’s murder.
Federal authorities are investigating why the U.S. Attorney’s office in Phoenix released Jean Baptiste Kingery after he confessed to providing military-style weapons to the now-defunct La Familia Michoacana drug cartel. Kingery was arrested and released in June 2010. He confessed to manufacturing improvised explosive devices (IEDs) using grenade components from the U.S. He also admitted to helping the cartel convert semi-automatic rifles into machine guns. Mexican criminal organizations are using these military-style weapons as the cartels escalate their wars against the Mexican government and one another. Despite Kingery’s confession, and over loud protestations from the arresting ATF officers, the U.S. Attorney’s office let Kingery go within hours of his arrest. Kingery was arrested last week in Mexico, where authorities reportedly seized materials that could be used to manufacture 500 grenades. This operation appears to have taken place parallel to the ATF’s Fast and Furious gun-running operation.
The Phoenix U.S. Attorney’s office denies that it declined to prosecute the case, saying that it wanted to continue surveillance, and said that ATF agents wanted to make Kingery an informant, but lost contact with him within weeks of his release.
Kingery bought weapons parts and grenade casings in U.S. stores and over the Internet, and smuggled them into Mexico through the border city of Mexicali. Kingery was arrested late last week in Mazatlan in a raid on a house where five guns were found. Police also raided five other homes, and found what appeared to have been facilities for assembling grenades, including gunpowder and grenade triggers, pins and caps.
Third Gun at Terry Murder Site
Fox News is reporting that a third gun found at the murder scene of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was linked to Operation Fast and Furious, but its existence may have been deliberately concealed by the FBI to protect the identity of an informant “who works inside a major Mexican cartel.” The informant provided the money to obtain the weapons used to kill Terry. This tends to support statements made by Kenneth Melson, former acting director of ATF in an interview on July 4, 2011. Unlike the two AK-style assault weapons found at the scene, the third weapon could more easily be linked to the informant. To prevent that from happening the third gun just “disappeared.” The two AK-type assault rifles used to murder Terry were purchased by Jaime Avila from the Lone Wolf Trading Co. of Phoenix on Jan. 16, 2010. Avila was recruited by Uriel Patino, who received $70,000 in “seed money” from the FBI informant late in 2009 to buy guns for the cartel.
Issa Angry, Obama and Holder Deny Any Wrongdoing
Darrell Issa, (R-CA), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, is angry. He said, “You don’t let guns walk. You don’t let explosives walk. That’s what’s wrong with Operation Fast and Furious. It’s what’s wrong in this whole grenade caper. You cannot allow these dangerous assets to fall into the wrong hands.”
Concerned that AG Eric Holder was looking to make Melson his “fall guy,” Issa and Grassley wrote a letter to DOJ, warning Holder not to fire or retaliate against the ATF director. In addition, Issa and Grassley wrote that Melson’s testimony corroborated claims that the Mexican drug cartel leaders targeted by Fast and Furious were apparently paid informants for the FBI and the DEA, a connection the ATF was not aware of. If Melson’s allegations prove true, the Fast and Furious investigation will widen to the other law enforcement agencies, and possibly the upper echelons of DOJ.
Meanwhile, Holder is claiming no one in the upper ranks of the Justice Department was aware of the program Issa has called “felony stupid.” Holder is making the case that this was merely a “flawed enforcement operation.” Citing an independent review by the Justice Department inspector general, Holder said, “We’ll certainly see, I think, at the end of that exactly who was involved, exactly who made the decisions in what was clearly, I think, a flawed enforcement effort. But the notion that somehow or other that this thing reaches into the upper levels of the Justice Department is something that at this point I don’t think is supported by the facts. And I think as we examine and as all the facts are in fact revealed, we’ll see that is not the case.”
President Barack Obama has categorically denied that he or Holder had authorized the operation. “Well, first of all, I did not authorize it,” Obama said in March, 2011. “Eric Holder, the attorney general, did not authorize it. There may be a situation here in which a serious mistake was made. If that’s the case, then we’ll find – find out and we’ll hold somebody accountable.” A senior Obama administration official said the emails did not prove that anyone in the White House was aware of the covert “investigative tactics” of the operation.