The earlier of the two reports blasted the agency for having almost no Spanish speakers among its ranks, and virtually no on-the-ground presence in Mexico.
So, with none of those requisites, and with absolutely nothing to prove its gun-dealer-to-cartel gun smuggling claim, the BATFE leadership came up with a brilliant idea. Let me paraphrase what the leadership might have been thinking:
“Instead of using fake straw purchasers in a sting, let’s make use of the real deal. Wait until real criminals show up at dealers, committing real felonious acquisition of firearms, then passively encourage those criminals to commit lots more crimes. Lots of crimes might show that BATFE is on top of one of those elusive trafficking operations with multiple offenders the OIG seeks.”
A chart produced by BATFE and released by Sen. Grassley and Rep. Issa shows just how insanely out-of-line the whole criminal-watch program was. The chart lists a number of “monitored” criminals; how many guns they had bought before they were entered in the gun-smuggler monitoring scheme; and how many guns they bought while under the surveillance of BATFE.
And this brings us to the example of Carter’s Country, a four-location federally licensed dealer in Houston—one among many picked out by The Washington Post as a source of guns to Mexico. It was another one of those “tracing” hit-jobs dripping with guilt by innuendo with selective information planted by BATFE media puppeteers:
“Carter’s Country was one of Texas’s leading gun stores for firearms traced from Mexican crime scenes in the past two years. More than 115 firearms sold by Carter’s Country were recovered by Mexican police and military.”
The Post story failed to mention that Carter’s Country was among those fully assisting the feds, having alerted BATFE to questionable sales at the outset. Dick DeGuerin, the high-profile Texas defense attorney, told KRIV-TV news that Carter’s Country and its employees “have been co-operating with ATF from the get-go.”
After company officials reported what they thought might be “straw sales” or attempts to purchase a volume of guns, “They were told to go through with what they considered to be questionable sales—sales from three or more assault rifles at the same time or five or more or the sale of nine millimeter guns at the same time or young Hispanic males paying in cash … they reported them promptly, even while the transaction was going on or soon thereafter. They did this for months, and months, and months. Went through with the sales because the ATF told them to go through with the sales.
“If the ATF used the information that Carter’s Country developed for them,” Deguerin said, “they could have stopped these guns from going across the border.”
It is very likely that the “before” numbers on BATFE’s chart came from dealers like Carter’s Country, who also alerted BATFE and were told to keep on selling. In the meantime, BATFE was videotaping the felonious gun buyers instead of arresting them.
The chart identifies the criminal purchasers as “indicted targets,” but that title was only bestowed on them following the revelations that two Fast and Furious guns were found at the scene of Border Patrol Agent Terry’s death.
On the list, one individual stands out as a gold-star performer. He had been brought to the attention of BATFE after buying 59 guns, and was “monitored” buying an additional 661 guns. That’s a total of 720 felonious acquisitions. BATFE not only allowed the mega-felonies to proceed, they monitored the guns all the way to the border, where they vanished into darkest Mexico in criminal commerce.
The total number of guns memorialized on the chart was 1,725, with serial gun and smuggling crimes distributed among 15 “indicted targets.” The chart also lists 250 guns that have been traced to the operation after they were recovered at crime scenes, mostly in Mexico. Mexican authorities are claiming hundreds of its citizens have been killed with those firearms.
The chart accompanied a Jan. 8, 2010, briefing paper in which BATFE officials said Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke was repeatedly kept informed and concurred with the scheme.
As for the grand plan to meet the OIG expectations of nailing Mexican drug lords and bringing down international trafficking operations, the memo includes a whiny afterthought with a profound meaning:
“It is unknown at this time what direct connection exists between those straw-purchasers and the drug trafficking organizations (DTOS) in Mexico.”
It was unknown because the BATFE operation to oversee guns run into criminal commerce in that sovereign nation was kept totally secret from the Mexican government, and even from BATFE’s own attaché in Mexico. The only way BATFE or the Justice Department would know the whereabouts of their “monitored” criminal guns was when they ended up at crime scenes.
This admission is the key to something else—perhaps the most important element in this whole sordid mess.
In covering the revelations about the evils of Operation Fast and Furious, many people on the right side of the story repeat the phony mantra that these “walked” guns went to the cartels.
They might have gone to criminals for certain, or disarmed honest Mexicans wishing to defend themselves against cartel or corrupt government violence may have bought some of them. But as we said in last month’s feature (“Project Gunrunner,” June 2011, p. 36), it isn’t logical to assume that a ruthless group of ultra criminals rolling in billions of dollars in drug profits, who run highly sophisticated international drug shipping operations involving DC-10 airliners and surplus military submarines are going to bother with buying guns a few at a time from U.S. firearm retailers.
There was one other finding in the November 2010 final OIG report slamming Project Gunrunner that is key to exposing the gun store-to-cartel big lie. The rebuttal to the ever-repeated 90 percent nexus is covered in an OIG footnote.
In the beginning, the claim about 90 percent of the cartel guns in Mexico being from U.S. retailers was based on tracing data—information the OIG report said was useless to Mexican authorities, but is the raison d’etre of BATFE.
The OIG tracing stunner was buried in a footnote:
“[I]n September 2010, in response to a draft of this report, ATF told the OIG that the 90 percent figure cited to Congress could be misleading because it applied only to the small portion of Mexican crime guns that are traced. ATF could not provide updated information on the percentage of traced Mexican crime guns that were sourced to (that is, found to be manufactured in or imported through) the United States.”
The 90 percent factoid—repeated over and over by the media, the Brady Campaign, the Violence Policy Center, Mayor Bloomberg, the White House, Attorney General Holder and DHS Secretary Napolitano—was revealed as fabricated garbage nearly a year ago!
A federal agent is dead because of it. And a growing number of Mexican citizens are dead because of it.
When you get down to it, all of the carnage of Fast and Furious—carnage that will continue long into the future—was created to prove a fraudulent statistic.
And that’s the operation’s true shame.
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