Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Guns Used in Mexico Lawyer's Murder Traced to Operation Fast and Furious

Tuesday, May 1, 2012 |

By Diana Washington Valdez
 El Paso Times

Federal police present five suspects, arrested in connection with the slaying of Mario Gonzalez, the brother of a former Mexican state attorney general, to the press in Mexico City, Friday Nov. 5, 2010. Eight members of a drug cartel were arrested in the torture and slaying of the brother of former Mexican state attorney general Patricia Gonzalez, according to federal police.

Firearms connected to Operation Fast and Furious were used in the 2010 slaying of the brother of the former Chihuahua state attorney general, according to a U.S. congressional report.

The report said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives traced two of the weapons suspected in the murder of lawyer Mario González Rodríguez, but did not report this fact to the Mexican government until eight months after the tracing.

The joint congressional staff report "The Department of Justice's Operation Fast and Furious: Fueling Cartel Violence" was prepared for U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., two lawmakers who are spearheading an ongoing investigation into the ATF's controversial operation.

"On October 21, 2010, drug cartel members kidnapped Mario González Rodríguez from his office," according to the 2011 congressional report. "At the time of the kidnapping, his sister Patricia González Rodríguez was the attorney general of the state of Chihuahua."

Mexican officials said Patricia González Rodríguez was already on her way out because the new governor had been installed and a new state prosecutor was going to be appointed.

"A few days after the kidnapping," the congressional report said, " a video surfaced on the Internet in which Mario González Rodríguez sat handcuffed, surrounded by five heavily armed men wearing masks, dressed in camouflage and bullet-proof vest."

"Apparently, under duress," the report said, "(González Rodríguez) alleged that his sister had ordered killings at the behest of the Juárez cartel ... the video quickly went viral."

Chihuahua state Attorney General Patricia González Rodríguez denied the allegations of drug corruption and traveled to Mexico City to seek the federal government's help in investigating her brother's murder. She is no longer in Chihuahua, and reportedly left Mexico for safety reasons.

A video of Mario González Rodríguez's "interrogation" by armed men was carried on YouTube. The body of the well-known Chihuahua City lawyer was found Nov. 5, 2010, in a shallow grave.

Then, Mexican federal authorities, following a shootout with drug cartel suspects, seized 16 weapons and arrested eight men in connection with Mario González Rodríguez's murder.

Mexican officials submitted information about the weapons to the ATF's e-trace system, and the ATF traced two AK-47s to Operation Fast and Furious.

The congressional report said that an ATF email indicated that ATF officials in Phoenix who knew the two assault rifles came from the controversial operation withheld the information from Mexican officials until June 2011.

In congressional testimony, Carlos Canino, the ATF's acting U.S. attaché in Mexico, said he's the one who finally notified Mexican federal Attorney General Marisela Morales about the weapons-tracing and their link to the death of Mario González Rodríguez.

The report said Morales was shocked and remarked, "Hijole!," which the report said translates into "Oh, my."

Canino feared an international incident might break out with Mexico if the information leaked out to the news media instead of being sent through government channels. He told U.S. lawmakers that he did not want to undermine the trust that U.S. law enforcement had developed with their Mexican counterparts in the war against the drug cartels.

Ricardo Alday, spokesman for the Mexican Embassy in Washington, D.C., said Saturday in response to the U.S. congressional report's findings that "the government of Mexico has not granted, nor will grant, under any circumstance, tacit or explicit authorization for the deliberate walking of arms into Mexico.
"As a matter of policy, we do not comment on ongoing investigations, and therefore will await the outcome of both the U.S. and Mexican investigations, and then react accordingly."

Last week, the ATF released a report that said 68,000 weapons recovered in Mexico between 2007 and 2011 were traced back to U.S. sources. That report does not mention which of the weapons were part of the undercover Operation Fast and Furious.

Weapons traced back to the operation have been recovered in eight Mexican states and in Mexico City, and most of them were destined for the Sinaloa drug cartel led by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzmán, the congressional report said.

And, at least eight Fast and Furious-connected weapons were recovered at crime scenes in Juárez and four in Chihuahua City between 2010 and 2011.

The Sinaloa cartel has been waging a bloody battle against the Carrillo Fuentes organization that's killed nearly 9,500 people in Juárez alone since 2008.

On Jan. 13, 2010, the El Paso Police Department seized 40 rifles on the East Side that the congressional report said were connected to Fast and Furious. Weapons connected to the operation also were recovered in Columbus, N.M.

The number of Fast and Furious weapons found at Mexican crime scenes could be higher because the information provided to congressional investigators remains incomplete, the report said.

Last November, the El Paso County Sheriff's Office confirmed that it was among local law enforcement agencies asked to assist with Operation Fast and Furious.

El Paso County Sheriff Richard Wiles said then that his department helped a Drug Enforcement Administration regional task force with surveillance but that he was not told it was for Fast and Furious.

ATF officials launched Operation Fast and Furious in 2009 in Phoenix in an attempt to identify high-level arms traffickers who were supplying the Mexican drug cartels with weapons. The operation allowed weapons purchased in the United States to cross the border into Mexico.

ATF shut down the operation about a month after Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was found murdered in the Arizona desert in December 2010. Two AK-47s, originally purchased as semiautomatics and connected to Fast and Furious, were found near Terry's body.

The latest ATF report does not break down the 68,000 weapons traced to U.S. sources by states.
ATF spokesman Tom Crowley said the agency previously reported that most of the guns recovered in Mexico came from Texas, the border state that has the most gun stores.

Statistics in the recent ATF report mirror the trends in Mexico's drug cartel violence.
For example, in 2008 Mexican officials submitted 31,111 serial numbers to the ATF for tracing, the same year that the Mexican cartels intensified their battles in Mexico.

The number of weapons submitted for e-trace was 17,352 in 2007; 21,555 in 2009; 8,338 in 2010; and 20,335 in 2011.

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16 Borderland Beat Comments:

Anonymous said...

Why would the narcos target the relative of a high law official, it woul just bring a shitload of heat for no reason, unless she was in it. If the origin of the gun was true, why doesn't she sue? Not for the $$ but out of principle? Cause the last thing she wants is being investigated. She was in it. My guess.

Anonymous said...

The USA should extradite atty general Holder to Mexico to stand trial.

Anonymous said...

Everybody knows she was protecting the juarez cartel

Anonymous said...

Holder and Obama sure were quick to jump on the Trayvon Martin case and find someone, anyone to blame for his death. But when it comes to murders that resulted from Fast and Furious, the days clip on by with nothing meaningul happening.

Anonymous said...

Hijolé

Anonymous said...

Thats the problem with USA they never take the blame like a real person. Pero no se les quita lo metiche a estados unidos ay se andan metiendo a otras tieras que no son de ellos

Anonymous said...

So fuckin what.Fast and Furious,who gives a shit.
She cried "oh my",when told?Never mind the Mexicans who filmed her brother getting interrogated,and then filmed the torture.Yes,he was hooked up to electrodes on his feet,and then they beat him with pickaxe handles,and i,m telling you,its worse than the beheading videos.
When you hear the wood hitting his arms and chest,its fuckin naughty.Having said all this shit,i wish more people in authority learned the harsh realities of life.It is always the ordinary citizen getting hurt,so yes,i wish more politicians were taken,but they are to well protected or corrupt anyway.

Anonymous said...

Oh shit "Fast and Furious"If it wasn't them guns it would be others,but because they have the US tag on.Its big news to the Mexicans"see we told you"Fuck outta here.Every government on this planet does shady shit,some much more than others.This Mexican US shit is about race and culture,lets not fool ourselves.Both sides are racist motherfuckers against each other,man you only have to look at Spanish speaking forums to see that.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if these are the guys who smashed him with pick axe handles?One of them is really enjoying himself,doing funny walks as he walks up to Mario Gonzalez to take his turn.And then the pick axe breaks,so he gets another one.Naughty sounds when you hear it hitting his bone,he must have been in some pain.

Anonymous said...

Sick ass shit .more than likely this chick was involved in shady politics ,she might not have even had a choice, cartels are not known for playing nice . It is my understanding that any upstanding and honest politician's families usually leave Mexico for safety reasons due to the fact that if they don't play ball with the narco's they and their families become targets for the narcos. We of course supply them weapons so they can kill each other (less work for us) and quite lucrative . I get the whole let's trace it back thing an effective measure used with money maybe drugs but weapons no unless maybe we don't want these cartel types in bed with Russians or Iranian types .

Anonymous said...

GUNS DO NOT KILL PEOPLE!

Anonymous said...

pues nimodo

Anonymous said...

THIS IS ALL A BUNCH OF CRAP... AMERICANS ARE THE WORLD'S SUPER POWER AND WHEN IT COMES TO STUFF LIKE THIS, THEY ALWAYS TRY TO PLAY INNOCENT LIKE NOBODY KNEW SHIT... AND PLAY THE BLAME GAME... THEY WILL PUT ALL THE BLAME IN A FEW PEOPLE AND EVERYBODY ELSE WILL CONTINUE TO LIVE THEIR SO CALLED NORMAL LIVES... THIS A STRATEGY THEY USE ALL OVER THE WORLD SO THE LOCAL KILL EACH OTHER AND WEAKEN THEM SELVES THIS WAY.

Anonymous said...

"he did not want to undermine the trust that U.S. law enforcement had developed with their Mexican counterparts "

Awesome! Translation: I lied to them about how we screwed them over because I wanted them to keep trusting us.

Deliciously sweet irony.

Anonymous said...

May 3, 2012 3:49 PM .
"THIS IS ALL A BUNCH OF CRAP" . .
Just what i was thinking when i read your comment."ITS ALL THE FAULT OF THE US"
Whine,whine,whine,poor old Mesico.

Anonymous said...

Extradite the DEA and ATF to Mexico to stand trial for supporting a terrorist organization.

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