If this were a movie, you couldn’t make it up. Just like when President Reagan starting funding the Contras en El Salvador and Nicaragua in the 1980s, causing a diaspora of Central Americans to arrive as immigrants in the US, the news that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, Explosives (the ATF) had supplied Mexican drug cartels with large numbers of armed weapons is sending shock waves throughout the government.
It is being reported that ATF director Kenneth Melson will resign in the next day or two over this embarrassing scenario for the government, as President Obama begins his strategy to court the US Latino vote for the next selection in 2012. The guns, which the ATF claims were given to Mexican cartels as a way to follow gun smugglers and build a case against them, were part of operation “Fast and Furious,” which occurred between 2009 and 2010.
CNN is also reporting that one of the guns given by the ATF to the cartels was used in the murder of US Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Here is more of CNN’s report:
In the operation, straw buyers were allowed to purchase illegally large numbers of weapons, some of which ended up in the hands of cartels in Mexico.
Attorney General Eric Holder will meet Tuesday with Andrew Traver, head of the ATF field office in Chicago, about possibly becoming the agency’s acting director, according to senior federal law enforcement sources, who are familiar with the details of the controversy.
The Justice Department refused comment. White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters he had no new information on the issue.
The operation has come under intense criticism since the December killing of a U.S. Border Patrol officer.
Operation Fast and Furious was “a colossal failure of leadership,” Peter Forcelli, a supervisor at the bureau’s Phoenix field office, said recently.
The program focused on following people who legally bought weapons that were then transferred to criminals and destined for Mexico. But instead of intercepting the weapons when they switched hands, Operation Fast and Furious called for ATF agents to let the guns “walk” and wait for them to surface in Mexico, according to a report by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
The idea was that once the weapons in Mexico were traced back to the straw purchasers, the entire arms smuggling network could be brought down. Instead, the report argues, letting the weapons slip into the wrong hands was a deadly miscalculation that resulted in preventable deaths, including that of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
Reports say that the Mexican cartels received as many as 2,000 semiautomatic weapons, and also proves what the Mexican government was claiming for years: that the US Government was indeed giving the Mexican drug cartels weapons.