Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Fast and Furious: A Criminal Couldn't Have Designed It Better

History of Operation Gunrunner per Statement of Kenneth E. Melson, Deputy Director Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Before the House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies
Between fiscal year 2005 and fiscal year 2009, ATF has had significant impact on the trafficking in the Southwest Border States. ATF has recommended 984 cases involving 2,034 defendants for prosecution. To date, 1,397 defendants have been arrested, 1,303 defendants have been indicted, 850 defendants have been convicted, and 636 defendants have been sentenced to an average of 86 months incarceration. Three-hundred and seven of the cases and 881 of the defendants recommended for prosecution involve gang related offenses. Four hundred and ninty-seven cases have charged violations related to the trafficking of an estimated 14,923 firearms. One hundred and fifty-nine of these cases involved gang- related trafficking of over 3,665 firearms. In all investigations, over 6,688 firearms have been seized and are no longer available to violent criminals and gang members.

Confused? Me too. How many weapons were actually seized. Is it 14,923 or 6,688?

In 2010 the ATF requested funds to expand the operation into several other cities.
As part of a recent emergency supplemental funding bill for border security, the ATF will establish similar teams in seven cities considered parts of significant gun trafficking routes -- Atlanta; Dallas; Brownsville, Texas; Las Vegas; Miami; Oklahoma City; and Sierra Vista, Arizona.
The first Gunrunner Impact Team was established in Houston last year after and operated in the region for 120 days, resulting in about 430 weapons being recovered.

It is here that we have our first clue about the program that would become Fast and Furious, except at this time they were called Gunrunner Impact Teams (GRIT).

It is also curious to note that the creation and implementation of these teams came on the heels of a report from the Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General which pointed out the difficulties that the ATF was having in regards to cooperation with Mexican authorities in conducting gun traces which were designed to try and determine the point of origin of firearm used in a crime or confiscated. The Mexicans considered it a joke and even after the United States supplied them with training and software with which to conduct the traces less then a quarter of all weapons seized were ever run through the system. Couple the lack of willingness on the part of the Mexicans with the very low number of weapons actually being seized by ATF agents and you have created the conditions which allow a program like the Fast and Furious program to thrive.

There is no doubt that pressure was being exerted on several fronts. Probably foremost is the budget for the ATF. In their annual battle to continue to receive funding they knew that the woeful numbers that they were reporting for the parent Gunrunner program were not displaying the best bang for the buck. Secondly, pressure to prove government assertions that a majority of firearms seized or used in drug crimes south of the border came from the United States. Since the Mexicans were not cooperating to establish just such a link it needed to be created.

The big question for me however is how could a government law enforcement agency which was fully aware of the inability and unwillingness of Mexican authorities to actively assist in the tracing of firearms, and knowing that very few weapons were being interdicted prior to crossing the border would engage into an operation which would allow the passage of those weapons across the border? It is almost as if the ATF was working for the drug cartels and I shudder to think if that is what might lie at the bottom of any investigation into this.

Anybody interested in the reports I got my information from is welcome to it. Here are some links for you.
Memo U S embassy Armstrafficking

2009 Gunrunner Stats

Project Gunrunner

Testimony Director Melson FY11 Appropriations

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