Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Sunday, March 27, 2011

ATF gunwalking: Who knew, and how high up?

By CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson

Since our first report in which ATF agents told us they allowed thousands of weapons to cross into Mexico, one crucial question has been: Who knew -- how high up? This week for the first time, President Obama addressed the controversy. It was in an interview Tuesday evening with the Spanish language network Univision.

"Well first of all I did not authorize it. Eric Holder the Attorney General did not authorize it. He's been very clear that our policy is to catch gun runners and put 'em into jail," Mr. Obama said of the controversial ATF operation called "Fast and Furious."

"You were not even informed about it?" asked Univision reporter Jorge Ramos.

"Absolutely not," said Mr. Obama. "There may be a situation here which a serious mistake was made and if that's the case then we'll find out and well hold somebody accountable."

But who? In an exclusive interview with CBS News, the lead ATF official in Mexico at the time Darren Gil says somebody in the Justice Department did know about the case. Gil says his supervisor at ATF's Washington D.C. headquarters told him point-blank the operation was approved even higher than ATF Director Kenneth Melson.

Gunrunning scandal uncovered at the ATF

"Is the director aware of this," Gil asked the supervisor. Gil says his supervisor answered "Yes, the director's aware of it. Not only is the director aware of it, D.O.J.'s aware of it... Department of Justice was aware of it."

Gil goes on to say senior Justice official Lanny Breuer and several of his deputies visited Mexico amid the controversy last summer, and spoke to ATF staff generally about a big trafficking case that they claimed was "getting good results." Gil says Melson, ATF's Acting Director, also visited Mexico City. Gil's Deputy Attache and his Analyst questioned Melson about the case that surrounding all the weapons showing up in Mexico. "His response was 'it's a good case, it's still going on,'" recalls Gil, "and we'll close it down as soon as we possibly can."

AK47s vs. bean bags in border drug war

As to what Melson, Breuer and the other officials knew, Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) has been asking. Among other things, he has told the State Department to turn over notes and records from any Breuer visits to Mexico City in summer of 2010. But his repeated requests have so far been denied. And the officials mentioned would not speak with CBS News.

The whole controversy was exposed last month when ATF agent John Dodson and others blew the whistle to CBS News. They told us they were ordered to let assault rifles and other weapons "walk" into the hands of Mexican drug cartels in a failed attempt to take down a cartel.

Agent: I was ordered to let U.S. guns into Mexico

But if Justice Department officials knew, it's even more incredible when you find out who didn't: ATF's own agents in Mexico.

Gil first found out something was amiss in early 2010 when serial numbers from a flood of guns used in cartel crimes were all tracing back to the same case in Phoenix: "Fast and Furious." But when Gil's analyst checked ATF's computer files to find out more, he hit a brick wall.

"Not only did he not have access, I as the attache, the head agent in Mexico for ATF operations, did not have access," says Gil. He was locked out.

That was a red flag because Gil says as the senior ATF official in Mexico, it was his job to approve any ATF operation involving Mexico; and he didn't approve this one.

In fact, Gil specifically emailed his staff on Jan. 25, 2010 that no firearms would be allowed to cross into Mexico for a case without his approval. The email also stated that if he ever approved such an operation, he'd make sure the weapons were "stopped on the Mexican side of the border." They'd never be allowed to "walk" or reach the streets.

Gil didn't know it but even as he wrote that email, ATF agents in Phoenix have told CBS News they were already letting traffickers move weapons to Mexican drug cartels without stopping them. The idea was apparently to see where the guns would end up and try to build a big case.

Faced with the flow of guns and the serial number evidence tracing to Phoenix, but locked out of the computer case files, Gil says he repeatedly questioned his supervisor in Washington. He says some of the conversations became screaming and shouting matches. He says he was instructed not to tell his Mexican counterparts about the case. Gil said he inquired, "when is this case gonna shut down? The Mexicans are gonna have a fit when they find out about it." Gil says he also noted "at some point, these guns are gonna end up killing either a government of Mexico official, a police officer or military folks, and then what are we gonna do?"

Gil is the second ATF agent to tell CBS News that he specifically warned of such an outcome. Agent John Dodson says he told his superiors in Phoenix much the same.

"I specifically asked one time, 'are you prepared to go to the funeral of a Border Patrol agent...are you prepared for that fact because it's only a matter of time before that happens," Dodson told CBS News.

That's exactly what happened. Two of the weapons, AK-47 variant assault rifles, were eventually found at the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry last December. Officials are looking into possible connections to the murder of Customs Agent Jaime Zapata in February.

Gil retired from ATF in December, in part over his objections to Fast and Furious and the way it was handled. He says he's speaking out because nobody else in charge has stepped up to explain that ATF agents in Mexico were never part of it. Yet they're now facing threats of prosecution from some Mexican politicians.

"The (Mexican) government's looking at (ATF agents) potentially bringing weapons into their country, which in many cases is an act of war." Gil says by not explaining that ATF agents in Mexico weren't part of Fast and Furious, ATF executives are putting the agents in danger. "They're leaving my guys out in Mexico alone, and they're not doing the right thing."




  2. What is worse than the fact that it happened under his very nose, is the fact that he thinks it is OK to admit he doesn't know what the hell is going on. I feel so protected by our U.S. President. And our "all seeing, all knowing" Janet "got my head up my ass" Napalitano. Where is the U.S. Press? Didn't they crucify Oliver North for this same shit?

  3. Wait isn't Ron like a god to you guys? I'm pretty sure that thing with Ollie and the contras happened under his nose... Pretty sure he was involved but if not he was even more clueless. I dont approve of this op at all but the fact you are blaming Obama and bringing up Iran contra paints you as a tea partier.... And a moron (maybe redundant)

  4. "we'll find out and well hold somebody accountable."

    Usually LEADERS are the ones who are accoutnable. I guess not in Obama's deluded world. Responsibility can be delegated but not accountability. Obama should run for president of Mexico. He would fit right in.

  5. Just how does the ATF Allow guns to cross the border?? Did they notify Mexican customs for permission RIGHT what a joke. The ATF did what the other Fed groups do built a case watch wait then at some time swoop down.

  6. Obama should be held accountable. He is not fooling anyone. He knew what was happening.

  7. If asking for Honest, responsible leadership from our Government officials is grounds to be labeled a Teabagger, then I guess I am. I didn't realize it was so simple. Seems to me that if you don't have anyone in power that takes responsibility when things are not right in their leadership, then what do you have???OH I know Mexico.
    Hope and Change, change and hope, I know redundant... I do hope it Changes.....

    Moron2 (I like it, I think I will use it as my profile name.)

  8. This is a direct attack on our 2nd amendment rights, it wouldn't surprise me if it was part of a plan to ultimately limit our rights.

  9. The arrogance of ATF and Holder and Obama is unbelievable, just incredible and infuriating. Is it any wonder they hate gringos? I hope Calderon goes off on Obama again. I'm embarrassed and ashamed of my govt.

    Holder and Obama act like they're talking about a poorly written term paper. Obama is no statesman or leader. He's a smart law professor and he should go back to Harvard.

    Somebody should hang for "Fast & Furious" - high. Our govt officials - law enforcement officials - knowingly and purposely sent thousands of guns to Mexico they say on some cockamamie plan to bust cartel people. Except they cannot make arrests in Mexico. They cannot even go to Mexico on official business without authorization.



  11. Moron2. Do you have a job? Do you think that CEO of your company know how many dead possums you picked up off the road yesterday? The head of any large organization can not possibly know the details of every operation that is ongoing. This is beside the point. The reason I suggested you may be a moron was your reference to Ollie north. He was directly involved as was Ron.

  12. The buck obviously does not stop with Obama. This is the worst disgrace of an administration we have ever seen. Don't even get me started on Holder. Total PUTZ!! Unreal the crap that comes out of his mouth. I live in the real world, own a business. I can't understand how people at these levels appear so stupid. Book smarts really does not cut it in the real world. These guys should be held accountable.

  13. Gringos El pinche Obama ya sabia Necesitan que renunciarlo en el 2012, ese wey quiere destruyir su estados unidos.

  14. Who knew about "Operation Gunwalker?" A majority of ATF agents, as well as many at the "Department of Justice."

    How high did knowledge of Operation Gunwalker go? We now know supervisory authority went as high as Senior Justice Department official Lanny Breuer, who took his staff to Mexico to assess Gunwalker, and stated, 'We are getting good results.'

    Was anyone higher up aware of Gunwalker? The first rule of civil service promotion is to CYA and your superiors culo as well. If Breuer knew, Holder knew. And Obama certainly knew at least part of the story. Read his face as well as listen to his words.

    How wide an area did Gunwalker cover? Gun dealers as far afield as North Carolina and Nebraska say they were told to make multiple sales to suspicious persons.

    How many guns "went to Mexico" as a result of Gunwalker? From time to time the Mexican authorities release lists of confiscated guns with models and serial numbers. This information, along with the total number of guns confiscated shows some 13% of guns seized in Mexico originated in the EU, and a minimum of 9,000 and a maximum of 19,000 Gunwalker guns wound up in Mexico. The most likely number is 14,000.

  15. Whoever thought "Operation Gunwalker" would be a good idea? Who could have pitched the idea? What would be the point of it? Did they really need to snare sicarios? They didn't know where the guns would wind up? Did they think the guns might wind up somewhere like a tailor's shop or a bakery?
    It sounds like a lame plan from the get-go. I would be embarrassed to claim it, too.

  16. "but the fact you are blaming Obama and bringing up Iran contra paints you as a tea partier.... And a moron (maybe redundant)"

    Always a Liberal not making any sense at all....When was Mexico ever a threat to the security of the US (other than letting in millions of illegal immagrants)? Then ask....when has Iran ever been a threat to the security of the US? I think you are trying to compare apples to oranges...especially when you look at the world today verses the world of the Reagan years. I am almost suprised you didn't mention the huge defence budget Reagan had....its the Liberals that are the moron's, not because they are generally stupid, but becasue the don't look at facts and somehow believe that our government can efficiently spend tax money. maybe retarded is a better term for them....but then again i don't want to insult those with learning disabilities.

  17. Just asmall comment. Where is the TSA when you need them???

  18. This is all fine and dandy, except it is simply a replay of past activities and no, I am not talking about Iran Contra. That was just another example. Our government, and the people in it have been flooding the southern end of our shared continents with weapons for DECADES. Did any of you hear about the 30,000 or so serial numberless Colt m16's that were discovered a few years back? No? Well guess what, those m16's left the Colt USA manufacturing facility WITHOUT serial numbers, which is against the law, and they ended up in central America, somehow.... So you teaparty/anti-teaparty patsies keep squeeling like pigs over whose asshole is/was bigger, that's what the people who let guns get into criminal hands want, and they have been getting away with it for a fuck of a long time, thanks to clowns like you.

  19. Bigger picture. Remember the special forces and contractors selling weapons from Iraq to drug dealers - Colorado-based. Do we not have the same neocon creation of another war front, this one on our border? The occasional claim of al-qaeda, the sudden appearance of "other" weapons that ratchet the violence level up to full war? Does somebody want a Lebanon on our border?


Comments are moderated, refer to policy for more information.
Envía fotos, vídeos, notas, enlaces o información
Todo 100% Anónimo;