An FBI asset in the Sinaloan ‘cartel’ arranged massive purchases of assault rifles in Phoenix Gun Shops. Behind this operation, ATF surveillance gathered evidence that could have led to indictments, but federal prosecutors refused to prosecute ATF casework.
Fred Gardner, of Counterpunch, outlines some inconvenient facts that undermine what both Rep. Darrell Issa and Attorney General Eric Holder are saying regarding the well financed flow of weapons to Mexico, under FBI auspices, with plausible deniability from both the federal prosecutors, the ATF and Mr. Holder:
“Fast and Furious” was an operation conducted by a Phoenix office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in 2009 and named after a Vin Diesel movie. There are 853 licensed gun dealers in the Phoenix area, which is 200 miles from the border with Mexico. You can buy weapons if you’re over 18 and have no rap sheet —no permit required— and you can legally resell them, thanks to the NRA and “gun rights” advocates. Because there are no federal statutes against such sales, prosecutors are very reluctant to charge many cases the ATF brings them. By 2009, unbeknownst to the ATF, an FBI asset within the Sinaloa drug “cartel” was arranging for massive purchases of assault-type weapons in Phoenix by “straw buyers” who turned them over to traffickers who brought them to Mexico.
In December, 2010, two AK-47 rifles that had been purchased 11 months earlier in Phoenix were found near the body of a Border Patrol agent who had been fatally shot. At this point a disgruntled ATF agent named John Dodson charged on CBS evening news that his supervisor (with whom he had long been at odds, personally) had ordered him not to arrest the straw buyers because the goal of Fast and Furious was to track the traffickers to Mexico. Dodson next provided Sen. Charles Grassley with a letter from his supervisor, Dan Voth, that concluded: “If you don’t think this is fun, you’re in the wrong line of work —period! This is the pinnacle of domestic U.S. law enforcement techniques… Maybe the Maricopa County Jail is hiring detention officers and you can get paid $30,000 instead of $100,000 to serve lunch to inmates all day.”
Grassley denounced Fast and Furious as an insane botch job. The program was halted in January 2011 but the scandal was just beginning. Only about 700 of the more than 2,000 weapons sold under ATF surveillance were ever recovered. Democratic Party apologists noted lamely that F&F was an extension of the “gunwalking” program begun in 2006 under the Bush Administration and dubbed “Operation Wide Receiver.”…
…. On May 3, 2011, Holder appeared before the House Judiciary Committee, where he was grilled by Rep. Issa. Holder testified, “I’m not sure of the exact date, but I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.” This is the defense of every craven CEO from Ken Lay to Rupert Murdoch: I was too high up to know what was going on in my organization. Whether it’s true or false, the boss is undeserving of power. Holder may or may not have known that an FBI entrapment scheme was responsible for the flood of weapons from Phoenix to Sinaloa….
More at Counterpunch.