Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Congress Asks Mexican Government to Explain Role in U.S. Operation

Friday, March 11, 2011 |

The lower house of Congress has asked Government Secretary Francisco Blake (left) to appear before the National Defense Committee to explain what the Calderon administration knew about “Operation Fast and Furious,” a U.S. operation that allowed thousands of firearms to be smuggled into Mexico.

The committee on Wednesday requested that Blake, tax agency chief Alfredo Gutierrez and customs service director Gerardo Perdomo appear before lawmakers.

Congress also wants the officials “to explain what actions are being taken to fight arms trafficking in the country,” National Defense Committee chairman Congressman Rogelio Cerda said.

U.S. agents allowed the smuggling of guns into Mexico in an effort to trace the weapons to the highest levels of Mexico’s drug cartels.

The controversial operation has been harshly criticized by Mexico’s Congress as a serious violation of international law.

Over the weekend, Mexico said it asked the United States for an official explanation of why U.S. agents allowed the smuggling of guns into the country.

Mexico has asked for detailed information about the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or ATF, operation, which has been the subject of numerous reports in the U.S. and Mexican media, the Foreign Relations Secretariat said in a statement released on Sunday.

“The Government of Mexico will follow the investigations announced by both the ATF and the Department of Justice with interest,” the secretariat said.

“The (officials’) appearance is so that they can pinpoint what they knew or did not know about this operation. The only hard facts we have at this time are that no Mexican agency knew about the case,” Cerda, a member of the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, said.

The Foreign Relations Secretariat said it learned about the operation after it was revealed that ATF agents allowed the weapons to be smuggled into Mexico in an effort to catch a drug lord.

ATF lost track of hundreds of the weapons, a whistleblower told U.S. media.

ATF agent John Dodson told CBS News he was ordered to allow the trafficking of guns to Mexico, where 35,000 people have died in drug-related violence over the past four years, as part of efforts to build a legal case against smugglers.

“The idea was to see where the guns ended up, build a big case and take down a cartel. And it was all kept secret from Mexico,” CBS said, citing information from Dodson and other sources.

Dodson was assigned last year to ATF’s Phoenix office.

The tactic of letting guns “walk” was approved by the Justice Department, according to Dodson and other informants, while U.S. officials flatly deny the existence of any such policy.

“I’m boots on the ground in Phoenix, telling you we’ve been doing it every day since I’ve been here,” Dodson told CBS. “Here I am. Tell me I didn’t do the things that I did. Tell me you didn’t order me to do the things I did. Tell me it didn’t happen.”

“Now you have a name on it. You have a face to put with it. Here I am. Someone now, tell me it didn’t happen,” the ATF agent said.

CBS said it obtained surveillance video showing people loading boxes filled with weapons into vehicles outside a Phoenix gun shop.

“The guns that ATF let go began showing up at crime scenes in Mexico. And as ATF stood by watching thousands of weapons hit the streets ...,” CBS says.

Dodson and other ATF agents told CBS News that when they raised concerns about the deaths caused by the gun-walking approach, the bosses replied: “If you’re going to make an omelette, you’ve got to break some eggs.”

A weapon sold in Texas was used in the Feb. 15 killing of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata.

Zapata was shot and killed in San Luis Potosi state when he and fellow agent Victor Avila were ambushed by a group of Los Zetas cartel gunmen while traveling in an armored vehicle from Mexico City to the northern city of Monterrey.

Avila was wounded in the attack.

The Mexican government has long insisted that most of the high-powered weapons used by drug cartels, including assault rifles and automatic pistols, are acquired in the gun shops of Arizona, Texas and New Mexico.

Some Mexican lawmakers are discussing a possible trip to the United States to learn first-hand about the operation.

Mexican Government Says It Knew Nothing of U.S. Gun Operation
The Mexican Attorney General’s Office said President Felipe Calderon’s government and senior officials in Washington bear no responsibility for “Operation Fast and Furious,” a U.S. law enforcement initiative that purportedly allowed thousands of firearms to be smuggled into Mexico.

The Mexican government “was not aware of the existence of an operation that included the controlled transport of and trafficking in weapons to Mexican territory,” the AG’s office said in a statement.

It added that after consulting with several top officials in Washington and after hearing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s criticisms of that operation, “one understands that the United States did not authorize the intentional and controlled smuggling of weapons into national territory.”

In an appearance before a U.S. congressional committee, Holder said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ alleged decision to allow assault weapons to enter Mexico as a means of ensnaring criminals was “unacceptable.”

Mexico’s Foreign Relations Secretariat said earlier this month it learned about the operation after it was revealed that ATF agents allowed the weapons to be smuggled into Mexico in an effort to catch a drug lord.

ATF lost track of hundreds of the weapons, a whistleblower told U.S. media.

Revelations about the controversial ATF operation have caused an uproar in Mexico, with the lower house of Congress demanding that senior officials appear before the National Defense Committee to explain what President Felipe Calderon’s administration knew about it.

In its statement, the AG’s office said the fight against drug traffickers involves ensuring that weapons are not brought into Mexico and that the practice of letting them walk is “unacceptable.”

“The Mexican government has not given and will not give tacit or express authorization, under any circumstance, for that to occur,” the AG’s office said.

The statement added that U.S. authorities’ decision to investigate this case “reflects their willingness to ensure both countries’ commitment to established principles of cooperation.”

The Mexican government will closely follow the probe and has formally requested detailed information from the U.S. government, the AG’s office said.

It also announced that an investigation will be launched to determine what crimes may have been committed in Mexican territory with weapons smuggled in as part of the “Fast and Furious” program.

Mexico reaffirms its commitment to strengthening bilateral cooperation to avoid and halt arms trafficking from the United States to Mexico, while acting at all times on the basis of shared responsibility and mutual trust and respect, the AG’s office said.

The Mexican government has long insisted that most of the high-powered weapons used by drug cartels, including assault rifles and automatic pistols, are acquired in the gun shops of Arizona, Texas and New Mexico.

Source: EFE
 




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3 Borderland Beat Comments:

Anonymous said...

Well good luck on this war on drugs. This whole north american land is fucked. Im done caring about details or which country carries the blame or who smuggles what where. If our governments wanted to end this whole mess they could.

We have fighter jets, standing armies, mortars and technology. If the pathetic cave dwellers in the middle east can curb drug consumption and gangs, we could too. But no matter where you go there is always. greed for that sorry ass short term dollar.

Hope its worth it you fucking tards. I bet youll grow tired of any minimal benefits the lifestyle provides well before you meet your maker. And dont you think for a second that this universe just sprung outta nowhere.

Anonymous said...

Mexico, el pais que nunca sabe nada!
What is the Mexican Government doing to fight arms smuggling or intercept drug money going into Mexico? Nothing. Just visit an international bridge during midnight hours and observe all the cargo vans with illicit merchandise enter Mexico without getting inspected!!!

Anonymous said...

i bet the role the atf gave to the Mexican government was to find if the weapons were showing up down there....

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