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

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Gunwalker: William Newell Circles the Wagons

By Patrick Richardson
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and the Internal Revenue Service were all aware of Operation Fast and Furious, which allowed thousands of military-style weapons to “walk” across the southern border to the Sinaloa drug cartel and other criminals.

These explosive revelations came on Tuesday, as Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA) grilled the former ATF special agent who was in charge of the Gunwalker program, William Newell.

Meehan noted the so-called “plaza bosses” — mid-level bosses within the cartels who were the ones often purchasing the walked guns — expected to get what they’d paid for, when Newell insisted that it had never been part of the plan to allow guns to walk across the border:
You understand if he purchased $70,000 worth of guns he expects $70,000 worth of guns. Where does that come in with “there’s no strategy to allow guns into Mexico?”

Meehan pressed on, angrily, without giving Newell time to answer and demanded to know which agencies were involved with the operation. Newell replied that they had received assistance from ICE, DEA, and IRS. Apparently the FBI knew about it as well — indeed, some of the straw buyers ATF was targeting were FBI informants.

When Meehan, a former federal prosecutor, demanded to know if those agencies knew guns were being walked into Mexico, Newell answered: “they were aware of the strategy.”

It was a rough day for Newell. Several lawmakers grilled him about the program relentlessly, including South Carolina Republican Trey Gowdy, a freshman congressman and also a former federal and state prosecutor.

Gowdy asked repeatedly if Newell interrogated the first straw purchaser the ATF knew for a fact was buying guns illegally. Newell said no, and several times during his testimony tried to make the case that taking down one straw buyer would have had little or no effect.

Gowdy insisted they should have interrogated the first straw buyer they knew had sold guns across the border, rather than walking more than 2,500 guns with an eye to getting a cooperative witness:

That’s an old fashioned investigative technique, it’s not as complicated as letting guns walk. It is more effective though, to go back and interrogate the person who made the acquisition.

Gowdy then demanded to know how exactly the ATF planned to extradite the drug kingpins, and was told there had never been any intention to do so. Gowdy was incredulous:
So once the guns made it to Mexico there was nothing you were going to do about those drug kingpins.

Newell said there was in fact a plan in place:
Yes sir, there was. One of the things we were going to do was as soon as we had solid information on who those drug kingpins were we were going to share that information with Mexican law enforcement.

Gowdy replied:
So they’re supposed to trust American law enforcement, who’s been conducting an investigation and knows guns are going into Mexico and you told them after the fact and they’re supposed to thank you and be partners in this endeavor? How are you going to dismantle the Mexican cartels if you’re not going to extradite the drug kingpins back to the United States, sir?

We hoped the Mexicans would prosecute them for that.

Gowdy was derisive in his reply:
So you’re going to help the Mexican justice system, you’re just not going to tell the Mexican justice system about it? It was never going to work.

ATF Special Agent Carlos Canino, acting ATF attaché to Mexico, also told the committee that not only was the Mexican government unaware of the program, so were the ATF agents based in Mexico:
At no time, ever, did I know of ATF following known gun traffickers. I had no clue we were allowing guys to act like this.

I was so disgusted, I didn’t want to look at the case file anymore. It goes against everything we’re taught. From the day you walk into academy until the day you leave.

This is a trafficking case, this is what we do. It’s not special.

Gowdy was equally disgusted:
I worked with ATF for six years directly and I worked with ATF indirectly for 10 years. This is one of the saddest days, in fact it might be the saddest day in my 6 months in Congress. ATF has a wonderful reputation in South Carolina. We never once contemplated letting firearms walk, ever. A first year Quantico (the FBI training academy) or Glynco (U.S. Marshall Service) person knows that.

Prior to Tuesday’s hearings, the committee released another report on Operation Fast and Furious of some 60 pages. Among the findings:

• There was little to no information sharing from the Phoenix Field Division, ATF headquarters and the Justice Department to their colleagues in Mexico City. Every time Mexico City officials asked about the mysterious investigation, their U.S. based ATF counterparts in Phoenix and Washington, D.C., continued to say they were “working on it” and “everything was under control.”

• Lanny Breuer, the assistant attorney general for the Criminal Division at the Justice Department, was clearly aware of Operation Fast and Furious and touted the case during a visit to Mexico.

• ATF officials in Mexico City were incredulous that their agency would knowingly allow guns to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels, and they were incensed when they finally began to learn the full scope of Operation Fast and Furious and the investigative techniques used.

Not only did Brewer know about the program, but Attorney General Eric Holder’s chief of staff did as well. There are now only two possibilities: either Holder simply didn’t want to know about the program, or was so disconnected from his department as to have essentially abrogated his responsibilities.

The former is possibly criminal, the latter merely incompetent, and either should exclude him from continuing as attorney general.


  1. Arent some of these DEA, CIA, ATF. or whatever Acronym is en-vogue this year Clowns Accesible to murder charges in Mexico?

  2. How about both? He is a criminally incompetent politician who has reached the highest level of his willful stupidity. And, absolutely nothing positive (prosecution) will come out of this.

  3. Someone was paid for those guns. Can't believe so big incompetence in those agencies if someone was not paid for those guns. Period.

    Mr.Meehan, I just love his grilling. :)

  4. Glynco is not a facility exclusive to US Marshal Service Agents. Glynco runs all basic academy classes for the Federal governments Criminal Investigator Training Program for other such agencies as HSI and ATF. In fact, the only ones that don't go to Glynco are FBI and DEA, which are US DOJ entities. Please correct this story.

  5. The incompetence displayed by Special Agent Newell during this hearing shows his true function in his agency. You all probably know people like him at your job. He's an ass kisser, looking to promote, but unable to do his job. In this case, it looks like Newell was chosen to "carry the water" based on his loyalty, rather than his level of competence.

  6. The only reason this is an issue is because a Fed got killed with one of the guns, they wanted to arm the cartels in order to clean the streets and further the need for help in high level takedowns.
    Sounded like a good plan, until it went puplic.

  7. I love the grilling. Each U.S. Citizen should have a turn going at these clowns. On my turn I would ask how many rounds each of these guns can fire over it's service life and how many Mexican citizens could potentially be killed as a result, did they know that the guns are illegal in Mexico, what caliber of fire arms were involved? Then I would give each decision making clown a down ward biach slap.

  8. The 2,000 guns that got by is probably 10,000 or more, trying to play down their fuck up because they got caught. The USA knows exactly what they're doing its no mistake that all those guns got thru. Putting this front "Fast & furious" months ahead just in case something like this happens, Oh it was just a sting we've been working on. Really? Selling guns by the bulk in border towns. What a great plan specially in a time when Mexico is at war. Seems like they just wanted to make their neighbor look even weaker by playing both sides. Will give you this billion's of dollars to help you with the war, but will sell this guns to the narco's just to make thing's interesting. They got a bigger agenda in the works taking this little steps to get to the big picture.

  9. Nothing happens in a vacuum, nobody in Mexico either Mexican Law enforcement, or American Law enforcement where told about Fast and Furious for a reasion. The Mexicans would have said, “Are you guys out of your minds?” The Americans would have revolted both would have ran to the press.
    So you have to ask why? Why allow 2500 guns (I think the real figure is much higher) to be bought by drug cartels who are putting it kindly murderous?
    I think this has to do with trying to acquire justification for an Assault weapons ban and more gun control on this side of the border. Remember a year or two ago when Aunt Hillary was out denouncing American guns where killing people on the streets of Mexico? When asked to produce said guns things got quiet? If they can have real guns from this side of the border pop up at crime scenes along with victims an AW ban would be much easier to implement without the backlash Slick Willie suffered. I think this hare brained idea was hatched in the rarified echo chamber at the WH.

  10. There needs to be some lie detector test and checking of bank accounts throughout ATF, DEA, DOJ, etc.

  11. What the hell. They were going to inform the Mexican Government where the guns were so "they" could go and apprehend the criminals. What a friend we are!!! This is one of the more embarrassing moments for the US in recent history.

    Maybe we need to send all those involve to Mexico to ask El Chapo if they can have them back because" they got in trouble." (lol) (wtf) Hell after he killed their dumb asses on site, the US would not have lost much.

    In an international court, we would and should owe Mexico $1,000,000 for each weapon our government allowed to flow "Fast and Furious" to Mexico. My God !!!!!!!!!!!!!! My God !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Not only does Mexico protect and defend El Chapo, the US supplies him with weapons. As this web begins to unravel, guilt is climbing the US ladder.

    This is a DISGRACE to us all !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. The worlds largest importer of illegal drugs and at the same time the worlds largest exporter of war. Talk about corruption at every level. It is scary to think about. The motives for this stuff is nothing short of evil.

  13. We are all so quick to say Mexico needs to use lie detector tests, back ground checks, and interrogation of it's police officers.

    Looks like the US needs to come up with a dumb-ass test. He is eat up with dumb-ass as was everyone involved. WTF

    If we interrogated corruption with the same techniques Mexico uses, we would probably find out very quickly the CIA, DEA, FBI etc. all support the Sinaloa Cartel as does Calderon and his administration. But when it comes down to it, all they have to do is plead the 5th. If we can take foreigners to remote island jails, torture and water board them for information, why can't we do it with our representatives that turn criminal. Oh, I forgot, our government doesn't want us to know the truth. This is far from the first time the US has supported criminal groups with weapons. Lol, guess that is why everyone loves us and speaks so highly of the US.

    That little old bitch agent testifying before senate would squall and tell it all the first time you slapped him or sprayed him with cold water. And he would cry the whole time.

    Absolute disgrace to all US citizens. We need to take a look at all our agencies purposes, policies and their lack of oversight and accountably.

    We have little room to say much of anything about the Mexican government now.


  14. Hell, these bitches killed 100 times as many people as Diego ordered killed. I doubt 3 of them lose their job for this.

  15. Where's the guy that used to cry foul blaming the ATF and the NRA for everything? This is your moment to shine homes. The NRA is not involved though.

  16. These US government meetings always have people making the funniest statements! From the commentary we have this exchange reported about South Carolina Republican Trey Gowdy's grandstanding.

    'Gowdy was equally disgusted:
    I worked with ATF for six years directly and I worked with ATF indirectly for 10 years. This is one of the saddest days, in fact it might be the saddest day in my 6 months in Congress. ATF has a wonderful reputation in South Carolina. We never once contemplated letting firearms walk, ever. A first year Quantico (the FBI training academy) or Glynco (U.S. Marshall Service) person knows that.'

    I guess that Trey Gowdy doesn't know that the ATF also allowed Anders Behring Breivik's guns 'to walk'? YES, our Norwegian Far Right Winger got hsi guns from the US by mail! Not only does the ATF allow guns to walk, but they allow guns to positively dance around them in circles!

  17. And also forgot to mention the scumbags at NRA. They sure as hell knew about it.

  18. 1:22pm you are correct. they just didnt expect one of those guns to come back across the river to kill bp agent. it backfired, now they cant cover it up.

  19. What really amazes me as that as bad as these ATF guys are, they still arent half as bad as the corrupt in mexico!

  20. ardent: did breivik get his gun through the us postal service? who approved his application, and who varified his proof of citizenship? i guess im just confused about the gun laws.

  21. ardent: Do you have a link to a factual story or document that gives some proof to what you are saying about the Norway shooter?

  22. duh! you people act like the government does nothing illegal and knows the war on drugs will never end, so they manage it and play both sides. what a better strategy? make a few busts here and there and blame mexico! skim off the top and make a few busts to keep prisons to a nice level, make a few top busts to keep the public happy. But the street cop has his full heart into the war on drugs, and doesn't even know his efforts are fruitless.

    LOL I'm american our government is so funny, but nobody will believe it. "they wouldn't do that".

    The drug war isn't a war, it's more of a professional wrestling show. Government officials doing their fake interviews and playing a role LOL

    they just blame mexico but they still got money for blow on the side.

    well maybe not quite like that, but you get the point....

  23. Texcoco Mex said

    Anon July 31, 2011 9:23 PM I don't know if this is what you are looking for but here it is this doesn't show the ATF knew about this guy buying illegal ammo from U.S

  24. I'm starting to believe the theory that the ATF was trying some backdoor plot that would end with tighter gun laws. The stated reason for the program makes no sense. It is not the truth.

    ATF let guns walk into Mexico so they could track them and then tell Mexican authorities so they MIGHT arrest the narcos that had the guns. That does not make any sense.

    For all the "grilling" the good legislators are getting a lot of smoke blown up their ass.

  25. The 30 round guns clips were from the US purchased via mail by Breivik, not the guns, as I had earlier said. Norwegian stores will only sell up to 3 round gun clips, and Breivik needed to fire much faster than that to be able to kill so many people all at one time as he was planning to do.

    Norway shooter: Ammo clips were from U.S. - POLITICO report

    So why is the US so eager to enable sales of high powered weaponry and ammo around the world, and including into Mexico?

  26. High cap mags don't kill ppl, people kill people.

  27. To ardent:
    From your link.

    Breivik wrote in his manifesto that while he could have purchased the high-capacity magazines in Sweden, they would have been significantly more expensive than ordering them from a U.S. supplier. He wrote that he spent $550 for the 10 clips. He also described legally buying four 30-round clips for a Glock handgun in Norway.

    Read more:

  28. @ardent - because it's a huge conspiracy, led by the US government, to dominate the world. Can't you see it ardent? Obama is bankrupting the US so he has to take over other countries, by force or by guile, to keep feeding his Swiss bank accounts. Selling guns in Mexico is just the tip of the iceberg. The US wants to put people it selects in power in 3rd world countries and and at the head of all criminal organizations.

    I am amazed that ardent focuses on this one nut case Norwegian who bought a few guns and killed a few people. I thought ardent could see the big picture.

  29. The fact that the US has this gigantic war machine that dwarfs all others put together contributes to its gun culture being so dominant and all pervasive. Yes, there is a 'plot' by US government and corporate leaders and that is to have the biggest war machine around imaginable. YOU would be absolutely ignorant not to have figured that much out, Anonymous 11:47 and absolutely unimaginative to think that it has no effect on anything, which is what you seem to think. Your idiotic diatribe against what I am talking about here is just plain stupid stuff on your part, too. Get a life, Dude!

    'I thought ardent could see the big picture.'

    The tiny tiny picture is that you are not a very intelligent person and that's a fact, and the big picture is that there is a huge US war machine out there that promotes the type of mentality that Breivik has. And this US war machine promotes a stupid ass drug war that never will end in any real success because it's human nature to use drugs from time to time in one's life, whether they are legal or not.


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