• Connect with us on Linkedin

US Justice Dept Review Brings Closure to 'Fast and Furious'

US Attorney General Eric Holder US Attorney General Eric Holder

A review by the US Justice Department’s inspector general of the "Fast and Furious" arms trafficking scandal serves as a reminder of the fundamental difficulties that US and Mexico law enforcement face in building cases against gun trafficking cartels.

Linkedin
Google +

As expected, the inspector general's review blamed the shortcomings of the “Fast and Furious” anti-gun trafficking operation on field agents in Arizona, rather than officials in Washington DC. The report essentially cleared the leadership of the Justice Department, including US Attorney General Eric Holder, from any wrongdoing.

Operation Fast and Furious, which ran from 2009 to 2011, was intended to track the middlemen, or "straw buyers," who purchase weapons in the US on behalf of Mexican criminal organizations but ended with over 2,000 tracked weapons being lost. Two rifles which the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) team allowed to be purchased by a straw buyer later ended up at the scene of the murder of US Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, eventually leading to a Congressional inquiry and a drawn out political battle between Holder and members of the Republican party.

InSight Crime Analysis

As the inspector general review acknowledges, the primary aim of the ATF team based in Arizona was to identify high-ranking members of the Tijuana and Sinaloa Cartels involved in trafficking firearms. Rather than arrest individual straw buyers and interdict weapons before they were transported to Mexico, the goal was to trace trafficking routes, identify stash houses, and develop a bigger picture of gun trafficking at the border.

As the review points out, one of the fundamental problems was that the ATF was given the mission of taking down a large-scale gun trafficking operation, but its field agents neither had the experience, nor the resources needed to conduct proper surveillance of the gun traffickers. Essentially, the ATF was given a mission of immense scope with one hand tied behind its back, then was blamed for when they lost track of the firearms.

Lost in all the political noise surrounding Fast and Furious is that the ATF’s broader goal was vital for Mexico’s security interests: identifying high-level gun traffickers rather than the small-scale buyers. That Fast and Furious ended so badly for everyone involved does not bode well for future US-based operations with similar goals.

Linkedin
Google +

---

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We also encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, provided that it is attributed to InSight Crime in the byline, with a link to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

InSight Crime Search

The Complete Organized Crime Database on the Americas

InSight Crime Social

facebooktwittergooglelinkedin

InSight Crime Special Series

The Zetas in Nuevo Laredo

Los Zetas in Nuevo Laredo

After the capture of Zetas boss "Z40," Nuevo Laredo is bracing itself for the worst. This investigation breaks down what makes the city such an important trafficking corridor, and what it will take for the Zetas to maintain their grip on the city.

See entire series »

 

Uruguay's Marijuana Bill

Uruguay: Marijuana, Organized Crime and the Politics of Drugs

Uruguay is poised to become the first country on the planet to regulate the production, sale, and distribution of the drug.

See entire series »

El Salvador's Gang Truce

El Salvador's Gang Truce

The truce between El Salvador's two largest gangs -- the MS-13 and the Barrio 18 -- opens up new possibilities in how to deal with

See entire series »

Juarez After The War

Juarez After The War

As a bitter war between rival cartels grinds to an end, Ciudad Juarez has lost the title of world murder capital, and is moving towards something more like normality.

See entire series »

The Zetas And The Battle For Monterrey

The Zetas and the Battle for Monterrey

InSight Crime delves into the Zetas' battle for Mexico’s industrial capital, Monterrey, getting to the essence of a criminal gang that defies easy definition.

See entire series »

Slavery in Latin America

Slavery in Latin America

InSight Crime coordinated an investigation into modern slavery, looking at how Latin America’s criminal groups traffic human beings and force them to work as slaves.

See entire series »

FARC, Peace and Criminalization

FARC, Peace and Possible Criminalization

The possibility of ending nearly 50 years of civil conflict is being dangled before Colombia. While the vast majority of the Colombian public want to see peace, the enemies of the negotiations appear to be strong, and the risks inherent in the process are high.

See entire series »

Displacement in Latin America

Displacement in Latin America

InSight Crime coordinated an investigation into the new face of displacement in Latin America, where organized criminal groups are expanding and forcing people to flee.

See entire series »

Target: Migrants

Target: Migrants

The growth of organized crime in Mexico and Central America has led to an increase in violence and insecurity across the region, posing challenges to citizens, public security forces, and travelers.

See entire series »

Zetas in Guatemala

The Zetas in Guatemala

Mexico's Zetas have taken Guatemala by storm, and they are testing this country and the rest of the region: fail this test, and Central America sinks deeper into the abyss.

See entire series »

Most Read

Testimony Describes Zetas' Ties to Mexico Governor

Testimony Describes Zetas' Ties to Mexico Governor

Testimony from a US federal court provides more fuel for accusations that a former governor of Veracruz, Mexico, accepted cash from the Zetas, which was then part of the Gulf Cartel.

Read more

Mexico's Kidnapping Hotspots: The High-Risk States

Mexico's Kidnapping Hotspots: The High-Risk States

Kidnapping is the most troublesome security problem facing Mexico’s government, and a breakdown of kidnapping reports by a watchdog group reinforces the idea that only long-term institutional reform can cure it.

Read more

Colombia Houses Prisoners in Bogota Park Due to Overcrowding

Colombia Houses Prisoners in Bogota Park Due to Overcrowding

Close to 70 prisoners are being held in a park in Bogota, underscoring both the unsustainable levels of overcrowding in Colombia's detention centers and the government's failure to provide adequate solutions.

Read more

Latest Criminal Profile