Barack Hussein Obama's Department of Injustice

DOJ to scrub Islam references from transcripts of Orlando terrorist's calls to police

Published June 20, 2016

The Department of Justice is scrubbing references of radical Islamic beliefs from the transcripts of calls Orlando terrorist Omar Mateen made to police during his massacre, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Sunday.

A partial transcript of the conversations between authorities and Mateen, who killed 49 and wounded 53 in the June 12 attack at a Florida gay nightclub, is set to be released on Monday. But Lynch, who appeared on numerous Sunday talk shows, said the transcripts will not include Mateen's oath of loyalty to ISIS or any other religious justification for the attack.

“What we’re not going to do is further proclaim this man’s pledges of allegiance to terrorist groups, and further his propaganda,” Lynch told NBC. “We are not going to hear him make his assertions of allegiance [to the Islamic State].”

The calls could confirm Mateen's motives in the wake of Facebook postings from the killer that already reveal Islamist leanings.

“I pledge my alliance to (ISIS leader) abu bakr al Baghdadi..may Allah accept me,” Mateen wrote in one post during the attack. “The real muslims will never accept the filthy ways of the west” …“You kill innocent women and children by doing us taste the Islamic state vengeance.”

Other posts include warnings to the U.S. and Russia to stop bombing the Islamic State and a prediction that more ISIS attacks would follow Mateen's assault.

But that "radical Islam" angle is likely to be missing from Monday's release.

Critics blasted the move by the administration, which has rejected branding terrorist acts as motivated by radical Islam and has sought to paint the Orlando attack as a gun control issue. 

"This is not just a simple wording issue," Ric Grenell, a Fox News contributor and former aide to UN Ambassador John Bolton told Fox and Friends Monday morning. "The fact that Loretta Lynch is somehow redacting the specific enemy that is being called out here is a PR move."

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giluiani, also on Fox and Friends Monday, said it does not help law enforcement to try to bury the motivations or allegiences of criminals and terrorists.

"Why didn't they do this with the Mafia, to spare Italian-Americans?" Giuliani asked. "Why? Because if you did, you would never make the connection [which ultimately] brought them down."

Mateen died in a hail of gunfire after police blew a hole in the side of the venue following a three-hour hostage standoff. But before his final moments came, Mateen declared allegiance to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi -- right in the midst of the slaughter.

The move to edit the transcripts of Mateen's calls harkens back to April, when French President Francois Hollande's reference to "Islamist terrorism" was left out of an official White House video during an international summit in Washington D.C. The White House later told several news outlets the dropped phrase was a "technical issue."

President Obama famously has tried not to use the phrase "radical Islamic terrorism" in his remarks, a position many Republicans have lambasted him for. Obama has said he believes that phrase gives a measure of legitimacy to terror groups.

And as investigators look past Mateen's religious convictions, Lynch said a top goal is to build a complete profile of the gunman in order to help prevent another massacre like Orlando.

“We are trying to re-create the days, the weeks, the months of this killer’s life before this attack,” Lynch said. “And we are also asking those people who had contact with him to come forward and give us that information as well.”

Mateen was the focus of two FBI investigations into suspected terrorism. However, the probes were concluded without further action, and Mateen was allowed to legally buy firearms.

Lynch said the Justice Department is “going to go back and see what changes could have been made,” regarding how the investigations were handled.

Lynch said she’s traveling to Orlando Tuesday to meet with federal investigators.

While speaking to CBS’ “Face The Nation,” Lynch said that a key goal of the probe was to determine why Mateen targeted the gay community. The victims were predominantly gay and Hispanic since it was "Latin Night" at Pulse.

Lynch, speaking to “Fox News Sunday,” declined to say whether federal authorities will charge anybody in connection with the mass murder. She also declined to comment on why the wife of the shooter has not been arrested, amid purported evidence that she either helped her husband plot the murders or suspected his intentions and did not alert authorities.

Lynch also expressed support for Texas GOP Sen. John Cornyn's amendment, which is scheduled for a vote Monday in the Senate and would allow the federal government to delay a gun sale to a suspected terrorist for as long as 72 hours. Afterward, prosecutors would have to persuade a judge to block the sale permanently.

Lynch said such an amendment would give the federal government the ability to stop a sale to somebody on the terror watch list.

Meanwhile, thousands of people packed Lake Eola Park in Florida Sunday evening for a vigil to honor the victims of the shooting. The park was filled with people holding white flowers, American flags and candles.

At the end of the gathering, people held up their candles as the name of each victim was read, creating a ring of fire around Lake Eola. They chanted "One Orlando," ''Orlando United" and "Somos Orlando," Spanish for "We are Orlando."

"That event has gotten the attention of the world," said Evania Nichols, an Orlando resident. "And, for Orlando — a city that's always been incredibly inclusive no matter your skin color, no matter your background — it's brought about a movement that I think is starting here and I really hope continues."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


— May 16, 2013

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government allowed "a small but significant number" of terrorists into America's witness protection program and then failed to provide the names of some of them for a watch list that's used to keep dangerous people off airline flights, the Justice Department's inspector general says.

As a result of the department's failure to share information with the Terrorist Screening Center, some in the witness protection program who were on a government "no-fly" list were allowed to travel on commercial flights, the department's watchdog said.

The FBI-managed screening center is the clearinghouse for information about known or suspected terrorists.

In a briefing for reporters Thursday, the Justice Department said it had remedied the problem with a restrictive travel policy that prohibits program participants with no-fly status from traveling on commercial flights. The department declined to say how many people in the program actually flew.

While people involved in terrorism cases have long been eligible for federal witness protection, the Justice Department wouldn't say how many have been in the program. The inspector general's report said it was "a small but significant number."

The Witness Security Program, or WitSec as it is known, protects witnesses from the people and organizations against whom they have testified. The U.S. Marshals Service provides cooperating witnesses with new identities.

Over the past two decades, the program has been significant in the government's efforts to prosecute terrorists responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the 1995 bombing in Oklahoma City and the 2009 New York City subway suicide-bomb plot.

Since the witness protection program began in 1971, it has taken in more than 8,400 witnesses and 9,900 family members and other associates of witnesses. The department said the vast majority of what it referred to as former terrorists in the program were admitted before the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

The department said that to date, the FBI has not identified a national security threat tied to the participation of any terrorism-linked witness in the program.

The inspector general's report said that as a result of the department not disclosing information on some known or suspected terrorists, the new, government-provided identities of the witnesses were not included on the consolidated terrorist watch list until the IG noted it.

"We found that the department was not authorizing the disclosure to the Terrorist Screening Center of the new identities provided to known or suspected terrorists," said the report. "It was possible for known or suspected terrorists to fly on commercial airplanes in or over the United States and evade one of the government's primary means of identifying and tracking terrorists' movements and actions."

The IG also found that information was not shared promptly with the FBI.

In a June 2009 field report, a Marshals Service inspector reported his belief that a program participant was trying to gather intelligence on sensitive program policies and procedures for militant Muslim groups. The IG found no evidence that that information was shared with the FBI around the time of the inspector's concerns. An FBI official later told the IG that the information was shared in February 2012, which the IG pointed out was years after the inspector stated his concern.

Obama DOJ Decides Not To Support Religious Liberty in NYC

By Jordan Lorence
National Review
October 19, 2012

The Obama Department of Justice has shown surprising indifference to religious liberty by declining to follow the DOJ’s earlier repeated support for the right of religious groups to meet for worship services in New York City public schools during non-school hours.

The city allows community groups to meet in the vacant schools for any purpose “pertaining to the welfare of the community,” but specifically bans worship services. 

Alliance Defending Freedom has represented a small Evangelical church, Bronx Household of Faith, in a lawsuit challenging this policy since 1995.  Currently, churches and other religious groups are meeting in NYC public schools because of an injunction issued by District Court judge Loretta Preska earlier this year. The City of New York has appealed the injunction to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the fifth time the appellate court has heard appeals in the case. In the past three appeals, the DOJ filed amicus briefs strongly supporting the church’s right to equal access to meet in the school buildings.

But inexplicably, Obama’s DOJ decided to break with past actions and sit out the opportunity to support religious liberty in this case. This should have been an easy decision for the DOJ — simply follow the position the department has taken three times in the past decade to support religious liberty in the Bronx Household case. It’s a pretty reasonable position: When a public school opens its empty buildings for meetings by community groups, it must allow religious groups to meet on the same terms and conditions as everyone else.

Many of these churches meet in the poorest neighborhoods of NYC, providing services, spiritual support, and hope to many in their communities. The DOJ should explain why it has reversed course in this important case.

Feds shut down criminal probe of Ariz. Sheriff Arpaio
By The Arizona Republic
August 31, 2012

PHOENIX -- The U.S. Attorney's Office has closed its long-running abuse-of-power investigation into Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio -- without any charges to be filed.

In a 5 p.m. Friday news release, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann Birmingham Scheel, acting on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice, announced her office "is closing its investigation into allegations of criminal conduct" by current and former members of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.

Federal prosecutors have advised Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery of the decision.

In a four-page letter to Montgomery, Scheel explained the reasoning for the decision.

Federal prosecutors decided to not prosecute matters tied to alleged misuse of county credit cards by sheriff's officials, alleged misspending of jail-enhancement funds and other matters. The U.S. Attorney's Office had already made public it would not pursue charges on those matters.

Scheel wrote that the agency declined to initiate any state criminal charges arising from its broader appointment to pursue state charges that may have come up in connection with the federal investigation. Several federal attorneys had been deputized to handle state crimes arising from the investigation.

"Law enforcement officials are rightfully afforded a wide swath of discretion in deciding how to conduct investigations and prosecutions," she wrote. "Unfortunately, such discretion can act as a double-edged sword: although it empowers fair-minded prosecutors and investigators to discharge their duties effectively, it also affords potential for abuse. Our limited role is to determine whether criminal charges are supportable. After careful review, we do not believe the allegations presented to us are prosecutable as crimes."

Scheel wrote that federal prosecutors reached the same conclusion on potential federal criminal violations, specifically related to the allegations involving retired Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe. Attorneys considered whether former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas and his former Deputy County Attorney Lisa Aubuchon committed perjury in causing a complaint to be filed to avoid a court hearing, and whether their pursuit of criminal charges amounted to a violation of federal criminal civil rights laws.

Scheel wrote that the agency was mindful that a disciplinary panel had concluded Thomas, Aubuchon, Hendershott and Arpaio conspired in a criminal manner to violate Donahoe's civil rights.

"However, our obligation is different from the State Bar disciplinary panel, under its rules and burdens of proof, has reached certain conclusions about the conduct of Thomas and Aubuchon," she wrote. "We must weigh the evidence and law under the far heavier burden associated with criminal prosecution. Based on this review, we have concluded that allegations of criminal misconduct under federal statutes are not prosecutable."

She wrote it was "not enough to show that Judge Donahoe was subjected to conduct that was abusive or even unconstitutional. While Judge Donahoe suffered severe turmoil resulting from the criminal charges, as evidenced by the record in the Bar proceedings, we don't believe there is sufficient evidence to meet our burden that he suffered the sort of complete job depreciation contemplated by existing precedent."

Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox (she is a felon), one of those who has sued Arpaio alleging she was improperly investigated, said she was shocked when contacted by The Republic.

"I can't imagine why they would do that when there's so much evidence there, particularly from the Thomas case and all the (true?) testimony that came out. I just am floored," Wilcox said. (leftists will ignore facts)

Sheriff's Deputy Chief Jack MacIntyre commended federal prosecutors for their handling of the investigation that began in 2008.

MacIntyre also said the U.S. Attorney's Office recognized that many of the allegations related to the anti-corruption enforcement unit Arpaio started with former County Attorney Andrew Thomas were handled in the State Bar proceeding that resulted in Thomas being stripped of his license.

"The U.S. Attorney's Office and its investigators recognized what Sheriff's Office has said all along: We did not make any prosecutorial decisions, even through things were referred to the then-county attorney," MacIntyre said.

Thomas, a one-time Arpaio ally, was disbarred earlier this year. During the disbarment proceedings, (true?) testimony was given that Arpaio or his subordinates had abused the power the office.

The investigation began in December 2008.

Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox Indicted For 36 Felony Crimes

December 11, 2009

Phoenix, AZ—Maricopa County, Arizona has always been a hotbed for corruption. The legendary land fraud exploits of Ned Warren and later massive savings and loan fraud of Charles Keating could have never happened without the total cooperation of corrupt public officials.

Arizona has long been for sale to the highest bidder. The AZSCAM indictments only snared some low level members of the Legislature because the late Director of Public Safety and former Phoenix police boss, Ralph Milstead tipped of the real legislative power brokers. Law enforcement bosses sans the elected Sheriff must cooperate with the crooked politicians or be unemployed.

As always, the lion’s share of political corruption comes from the Left wing of American politics. The free-spending Liberals throw around the most tax money and that invites the deal makers, lobbyists and criminal underbelly to feed like sharks.

Corruption investigations always go nowhere and local and every level of government wallows in a sea of red ink. The crooked politicians turn their taxpayers into their own personal ATM machines. The only solution they can find is to raise taxes a extort money from working families with photo traffic enforcement revenue schemes.

Arizona’s media is like most American media, deeply rooted in Leftist politics. The large metropolitan areas of Arizona are under a tight Liberal grip. The media protects the political corruption.

Along came a wild Card, Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Joe has his own baggage connected to his ego. Arpaio, stays awake nights dreaming up publicity stunts to endear himself to his voters. He is a master politician who gives the voters what they want. Since Maricopa County is a huge territory his voters are working class Conservatives. Liberals just don’t get elected in countywide races.

Needless to say in Phoenix there is a clash of political culture and ways to deal with things like Illegal Immigration. The Liberals run Phoenix, the Superior Court, the County Board and they control where money is spent. The Left Wing politicians always throw tax money away on unneeded projects that generate huge campaign contributions from government vendors. That’s the only way they can stay in power.

In the thick of this mess is the Wilcox Crime Family. Mary Rose Wilcox and her family have never missed a chance at personal profit and now according to a stunning and breathtaking 36 count indictment Wilcox will have to answer for her actions.

In the meantime the media has come to the defense of Wilcox and another indicted Supervisor, Don Stapley in an unprecedented manner. They are screaming that the indictment is political payback. My question is who cares if it is political payback? If they have committed these felonies why not simply let them hang!

Congressional Report on Operation Fast and Furious

TUESDAY, 28 AUGUST 2012 12:09

The Buck Stops...Well...Somewhere Else 
Abstract: Representative Darrell Issa and Senator Charles Grassley recently released Part I of a three-part report titled Fast and Furious: The Anatomy of a Failed Operation. The report contains a compelling narrative regarding this botched law enforcement operation. In particular, it exposes the lack of supervision of some terrible on-the-ground decisions—choices that had deadly consequences.

Yet horrendous decision-making is only part of the story. Following the death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, the implicated individuals decided to circle the wagons and, to prevent the disclosure of embarrassing and possibly criminal information, seemingly began a cover-up that persists to this day. The American public and the victims of Operation Fast and Furious deserve better.

Part I of a three-part report titled Fast and Furious: The Anatomy of a Failed Operation,[1] recently released by Representative Darrell Issa (R–CA) and Senator Charles Grassley (R–IA), contains a compelling narrative regarding this botched law enforcement operation, especially the lack of serious supervision of some terrible on-the-ground decisions that had deadly consequences. The report is relevant to:

        The ongoing congressional investigation regarding Operation Fast and Furious,
        The growing dispute with the Administration over its refusal to comply with congressional subpoenas,
        The subsequent House vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, and
        The court action to override President Barack Obama’s invocation of executive privilege to shield key material from the public and Congress.

In addition, the report contains critical information that the American public needs in order to untangle the mess that is Operation Fast and Furious.

Since early 2011, Senator Grassley, Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Representative Issa, Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, have been leading the investigation into the Fast and Furious operation and its aftermath. Part I of the report chronicles the operation from the perspective of the United States Attorney’s Office in Phoenix and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Were the consequences not so tragic, the report might have the makings of a good Keystone Cops script. Despite being hamstrung by a lack of cooperation by the Department of Justice (DOJ), however, it does an admirable job of laying out the chronology, supported by copious and detailed documentation, of what happened, what went wrong, and how it went wrong.

An Agency with an Inferiority Complex

Operation Fast and Furious was a botched law enforcement initiative in which over 2,000 high-powered weapons were allowed to “walk” into Mexico in an ill-conceived attempt to develop criminal firearms cases against higher-ups within the vicious Sinaloa drug cartel.[2] While many of these guns remain unrecovered, two of them were linked to the murder of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in December 2010, and others were used to kill or wound approximately 300 Mexicans.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has a checkered history, as evidenced by the fiascos at Ruby Ridge and Waco. While agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) command respect within the law enforcement community, ATF agents often do not. The DEA and the FBI are charged with going after the leaders of drug cartels and other drug trafficking organizations, while ATF is supposed to keep guns out of the hands of bad guys.

At its heart, Operation Fast and Furious appears to have been an attempt by certain individuals within ATF, supported by senior DOJ officials, to play with the “big boys” by targeting kingpins within the Sinaloa drug cartel. In doing so, however, ATF abandoned its most basic mission.

Indeed, far from keeping guns from the bad guys, and in the interests of developing a case that would attract tremendous national media attention,[3] ATF allowed a small group of individuals to buy a massive arsenal of over 2,000 high-powered weapons (despite the reticence of cooperating firearms dealers to sell them) that ended up in the hands of ruthless Mexican drug thugs with predictable results: mayhem and death.

Compounding this colossal exercise of terrible judgment was the fact that supervisors within DOJ and ATF—all the way up the chain of command to the ATF Director and the Deputy Attorney General’s Office—seemed not to understand that it was their job to supervise (and stop) those conducting this out-of-control investigation.

As outlined in Part I of the report, amid a sea of red flags that provided ample notice of what was going on, high-level DOJ and ATF officials talked about an “exit strategy” but ultimately did nothing to implement one. In short, they permitted this reckless and feckless operation to continue for months on end. Then, when things went horribly wrong and U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed—the scores of Mexicans who had already been killed or wounded with Fast and Furious guns did not seem to arouse sufficient concern—the implicated individuals decided to circle the wagons and, to prevent the disclosure of embarrassing and possibly criminal information, seemingly began a cover-up that persists to this day.

How the Operation Was Conceived and Executed

In October 2009, Deputy Attorney General David Ogden, the second-highest-ranking official at the Department of Justice, issued a “Strategy for Combating the Mexican Cartels” in which federal law enforcement agents were advised that the previous strategy of “merely seizing firearms” purchased by “straw buyers” (individuals who may legally purchase firearms for themselves but are instead purchasing them illegally for someone else) would be replaced with a new strategy of gathering information in hopes of dismantling entire firearms trafficking networks.[4] Pursuant to this plan, ATF agents in Phoenix persuaded local gun dealers to cooperate by supplying ATF with real-time information on the straw purchases, even though the agents knew that the guns were being transported into Mexico, destined for the Sinaloa drug cartel.

Shortly after Operation Fast and Furious began, ATF applied to DOJ to have the case designated as an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case, and the request was approved by senior DOJ officials. This designation meant that, in addition to ATF, other federal agents from the FBI and the DEA, as well as agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the principal investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, were assigned to the investigation.

Early in the investigation, ATF had identified Manuel Celis-Acosta as the head of the straw purchasing ring, as well as many of the individuals working for him who were buying the guns. The DEA and the FBI already had a considerable amount of incriminating information about Celis-Acosta and other suspects that the agencies had obtained pursuant to a state wiretap in a separate drug investigation named Operation Flaco Feo, including conversations in which Celis-Acosta admitted receiving money to purchase weapons in Phoenix that were destined for Juarez, Mexico, via El Paso, Texas. This information was provided to ATF officials, who either chose not to act on it or failed to understand the significance of the connections among these individuals until a year later.[5] During that year, the suspects continued to acquire weapons under ATF supervision and to transport these guns into Mexico, where they were turning up at an alarming number of crime scenes.

As part of its strategy of going after the “big fish,” it was ATF’s goal to identify the individuals to whom Celis-Acosta was providing weapons. Shockingly, while ATF used federal wiretap intercepts—a resource-intensive and time-consuming investigative tool rarely used in firearms investigations—to accomplish this goal, the DEA and the FBI already knew who some of these individuals were, having obtained this information through another investigation they were conducting that was code named Operation Head Shot. It is clear that ATF was informed that some of the targets of Operation Head Shot had purchased weapons from Celis-Acosta; however, it is unclear whether the ATF agents understood that some of the individuals they were targeting in Fast and Furious were the same people that were being targeted in Head Shot.[6]

Subsequently, two of the targets of both Operation Head Shot and Operation Fast and Furious—Jesus Audel Miramontes-Varela, a noted drug kingpin with a long history of violence, and his brother—became FBI confidential informants, a critical piece of information that was not shared with ATF.[7] The report states that the “Committees have received further information on Operation Head Shot that cannot be made public due to its sensitive nature. Many questions still remain.”[8]

Lack of Adult Supervision

An early proponent of the new strategy was Bill Newell, Special Agent in Charge of ATF’s Phoenix Field Division. Newell had a history of using risky and reckless “gunwalking” tactics during prior investigations.[9]

In the ATF organizational hierarchy, Newell reported to Deputy Assistant Director William McMahon, who served as the main link between the Phoenix Field Division and ATF Headquarters.[10] Although McMahon knew that no safeguards had been put in place to prevent the guns from being transported into Mexico, he made no effort to shut down the operation, believing that it was not his job to interfere with Newell’s investigation.[11] McMahon has admitted that he rubber-stamped critical documents that came across his desk without even bothering to read them.[12]

The U.S. Attorney’s Office endorsed and actively supported Newell’s strategy. For example, on January 5, 2010, ATF agents met with Assistant United States Attorney Emory Hurley to discuss the “Manuel Celis Acosta [sic] Trafficking Investigation.”[13] In his memorandum of the meeting, Hurley acknowledged that ATF had already reviewed a number of “dirty” calls from Celis-Acosta through “a state wire case being run out of the DEA wire room.”

However, rather than arresting Celis-Acosta and his cohorts based on this information, ATF wanted to obtain its own federal wiretap. Although Hurley noted that, “In the past, ATF agents have investigated cases similar to this by confronting the straw purchasers and hoping for an admission that might lead to charges,” he preferred to pursue a broader and far riskier strategy. After noting that straw purchasers are replaceable, he wrote:

ATF believes that there may be pressure from ATF headquarters to immediately contact identifiable straw purchasers just to see if this develops any indictable cases and to stem the flow of guns. Local ATF favors pursuing a wire and surveillance to build a case against the leader of the organization…. I concur with local ATF’s decision to pursue a longer term investigation to target the leader of the conspiracy.[14]

After reviewing this memorandum, Hurley’s boss, U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke, tersely responded, “Hold out for bigger.”[15]

Even before this meeting, beginning in late 2009 and continuing into 2010, several of the cooperating gun dealers began to express discomfort with making repeated sales to individuals whom they suspected or knew were involved in criminal activity. Such concerns were met with false assurances from ATF agents and prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office that the weapons were being tracked and posed no danger to the public.

These gun dealers, however, were not the only ones who were concerned. Senior ATF officials (whom Newell dismissed as “hand wringers”)[16] were also concerned about the large number of weapons being purchased by straw buyers. ATF Deputy Director William Hoover, who had reprimanded Newell in the past for employing risky tactics, requested an exit strategy as early as March 2010, but it was never implemented.[17]

On several occasions, ATF went so far as to ask ICE agents who wanted to contact and interview some of the straw buyers to “stand down.”[18] Then, on May 29, 2010, Celis-Acosta was stopped attempting to cross the border from Lukeville, Arizona, into Mexico with ammunition in the vehicle. Celis-Acosta admitted that he was headed to Mexico to start up a drug trafficking business and also provided detailed information about his relationship with Claudio Jamie “Chendi” Badilla, a large-scale trafficker alleged to be the right-hand man for Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman, head of the Sinaloa Cartel.[19]

Celis-Acosta was allowed to continue his trip to Mexico after promising to cooperate and pledging to call the lead Fast and Furious case agent later.[20] He never honored this pledge but, along with other straw buyers who were working for him, was nevertheless allowed to continue buying more firepower for the cartel, even though a plethora of evidence existed to warrant indicting these individuals. The report also states that Celis-Acosta was detained on two other occasions: on April 2, 2010, for drug possession and on October 9, 2010, for discharging a firearm within the limits of a municipality. Again, he was released without being charged with any offense.[21]

It Takes a U.S. Agent’s Death to Stop the Operation

It was not until after Agent Terry’s murder that Operation Fast and Furious finally came to an end. Thus far, the only people charged have been the straw purchasers, most of whom were known to ATF at the beginning of the case. No charges against drug kingpins have been filed related to Operation Fast and Furious, and it is hard to understand how they might have been, given this operation’s design and the loose controls that surrounded it.

It should be noted that the congressional report is based on incomplete information because the Department of Justice has withheld tens of thousands of pages of documents (some of which are being withheld pursuant to an invocation of executive privilege by President Obama) and has denied access to several key individuals in Operation Fast and Furious, including Hope MacAllister and Tonya English, two of the case agents, and Assistant United States Attorney Emory Hurley, the lead prosecutor.[22] Another key player, Patrick Cunningham, Criminal Division Chief in the Phoenix U.S. Attorney’s Office, invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in refusing to answer any questions.[23] Nonetheless, the evidence recounted in the report is damning enough.

The report further notes that “[t]he full extent of the responsibility of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona in directing Operation Fast and Furious has yet to be discovered because the Department of Justice has stonewalled the congressional investigation” and makes it clear that the culpability of DOJ officials will be addressed in Part II.[24]

Although there was plenty of blame to go around, Part I singles out five individuals within ATF. In addition to Newell, McMahon, and Hoover, the report blames the fiasco on Acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson, who, despite cooperating with Congress under difficult circumstances, failed to ensure that ATF headquarters personnel adequately supervised the Phoenix Field Division,[25] and Assistant Director Mark Chait, who reported to Hoover, for failing to put a stop to the operation despite having had many opportunities to do so.[26]

Senator Grassley and Chairman Issa state that Part II of this report, which will be released shortly, “will look at the devastating failure of supervision and leadership by officials at Justice Department headquarters, principally within the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, and within the Criminal Division,”[27] although some of the evidence likely to be cited in Part II is referenced in Part I.

Part III supposedly “will address the unprecedented obstruction of the investigation by the highest levels of the Justice Department, including the Attorney General himself,” but will be prepared only “after the Justice Department fulfills its obligations to cooperate with the Congress and produce documents.”[28] In that regard, the House Oversight Committee has commenced legal proceedings to challenge the President’s claim of executive privilege and to enforce the subpoenas that it issued.

Plenty of Explanations but Not Much Candor

On December 17, 2010, two days after Agent Terry’s death, a Texas ATF supervisor wrote to another ATF agent: “Maybe Phoenix should start preparing their explanation for the way that they conducted their straw purchases there. They should probably hire a media expert anyway to assist them in explaining the 2000 firearms and the possible connection in the murder of a Border Patrol Agent.”[29] Since then, there have been plenty of explanations, but there has not been much candor. The American public and the victims of Operation Fast and Furious deserve better.

John G. Malcolm is a Senior Legal Fellow in the Center for Legal & Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

[1]Joint Staff Report for Rep. Darrell Issa and Senator Charles Grassley, 112th Cong., Part I of III: Fast and Furious: The Anatomy of a Failed Operation (July 31, 2012), available at (hereinafter Report).
[2] See John G. Malcolm, Operation Fast and Furious: How a Botched Justice Department Operation Led to a Standoff over Executive Privilege, Heritage Foundation Legal Memorandum No. 83, July 25, 2012.
[3]Report at 56.
[4] Id. at 19.
[5] Id. at 34–40.
[6] Id. at 53–54, 76–78.
[7]Richard Serrano, From a Mexican Kingpin to an FBI Informant, L.A. Times, April 21, 2012, available at
[8]Report at 79.
[9] Id. at 140–146.
[10] Id. at 161–162.
[11] Id. at 8–9, 166–167.
[12] Id. at 170–176.
[13] Id. at 46–49.
[14]Report, Appendix III, Attachment 5, p. 2240, available at
[15] Id. at Attachment 10, p. 2259.
[16]Report at 43–45.
[17] Id. at 191–194, 198–200.
[18] Id. at 26–28, 50–51.
[19]Richard Serrano, Gun-tracking Operation Caught Top Suspect, Then Let Him Go, L.A. Times, March 19, 2012, available at
[20]Report at 100–102.
[21] Id. at 13, 73–74, 125. Celis-Acosta was not indicted until January 19, 2011. Id. at 40.
[22] Id. at 9.
[23] Id. at 56.
[24] Id. at 5, 55.
[25] Id. at 9.
[26] Id. at 9, 182–188.
[27] Id. at 5.
[28] Id.
[29] Id. at 133–134.

ATF gunwalking scandal

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

2009–2011: Operation Fast and Furious

On October 26, 2009, a teleconference was held at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. to discuss U.S. strategy for combating Mexican drug cartels. Participating in the meeting were Deputy Attorney General David W. Ogden, Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer, ATF Director Kenneth E. Melson, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrator Michele Leonhart, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Robert Mueller and the top federal prosecutors in the Southwestern border states. They decided on a strategy to identify and eliminate entire arms trafficking networks rather than low-level buyers.[3][33][34] Those at the meeting did not suggest using the "gunwalking" tactic, but ATF supervisors would soon use it in an attempt to achieve the desired goals.[35] The effort, beginning in November, would come to be called Operation Fast and Furious for the successful film franchise, because some of the suspects under investigation operated out of an auto repair store and street raced.[3]

The strategy of targeting high-level individuals, which was already ATF policy, would be implemented by Bill Newell, special agent in charge of ATF's Phoenix field division. In order to accomplish it, the office decided to monitor suspicious firearms purchases which federal prosecutors had determined lacked sufficient evidence for prosecution, as laid out in a January 2010 briefing paper. This was said to be allowed under ATF regulations and given legal backing by U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona Dennis K. Burke. It was additionally approved and funded by a Justice Department task force.[3] However, long-standing DOJ and ATF policy has required arms shipments to be intercepted.[4][5]

In November 2009, the Phoenix office's Group VII, which would be the lead investigative group in Fast and Furious, began to follow a prolific gun trafficker. He had bought 34 firearms in 24 days, and he and his associates bought 212 more in the next month. The case soon grew to over two dozen straw purchasers, the most prolific of which would ultimately buy more than 600 weapons.[3][5][36]

The tactic of letting guns walk, rather than interdicting them and arresting the buyers, led to controversy within the ATF.[5][37] As the case continued, several members of Group VII, including John Dodson and Olindo Casa, became increasingly upset at the tactic of allowing guns to walk. Their standard Project Gunrunner training was to follow the straw purchasers to the hand-off to the cartel buyers, then arrest both parties and seize the guns. But according to Dodson, they watched guns being bought illegally and stashed on a daily basis, while their supervisors, including David Voth and Hope MacAllister, prevented the agents from intervening.[3]

However, other accounts of the operation insist that ATF agents were prevented from intervening not by ATF officials, but rather by federal prosecutors with the Attorney General's office, who were unsure of whether the agents had sufficient evidence to arrest suspected straw-buyers.[19] According to some reports, many agents insisted they were prevented from making arrests because prosecutors were unwilling to engage in what could become a potentially contentious political battle over Second Amendment rights during an election year, particularly given the difficult nature of prosecuting straw buyers, and the weak penalties associated with it, even if successful.[19] Instead, prosecutors instructed ATF agents not to make arrests, but rather continue collecting evidence in order to build a stronger case. One tactic proposed for doing so was a wiretap of suspected straw-buyers, in an attempt to link the suspects to criminal activities taking place on the Mexican side of the border.[19]

By June 2010, suspects had purchased 1,608 firearms at a cost of over US$1 million at Phoenix-area gun shops. At that time, the ATF was also aware of 179 of those weapons being found at crime scenes in Mexico, and 130 in the United States.[8] As guns traced to Fast and Furious began turning up at violent crime scenes in Mexico, ATF agents stationed there also voiced opposition.[3]

On the evening of December 14, 2010, U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry and others were patrolling Peck Canyon, Santa Cruz County, Arizona, 11 miles from the Mexican border. The group came across five suspected illegal immigrants. When they fired non-lethal beanbag guns, the suspects responded with their own weapons, leading to a firefight. Terry was shot and killed; four of the suspects were arrested and two AK-pattern rifles were found nearby. The rifles were traced to Fast and Furious within hours of the shooting, but the bullet that killed Terry was too badly damaged to be conclusively linked to either gun.[3]

After hearing of the incident, Dodson reached out to ATF headquarters, ATF's chief counsel, the ATF ethics section and the Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General, none of whom immediately responded. He and other agents then contacted Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa (R–IA), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who would become a major figure in the investigation of "gunwalking." At the same time, information began leaking to various bloggers and Web sites.[3]

On January 25, 2011, Burke announced the first details of the case to become officially public, marking the end of Operation Fast and Furious. At a news conference in Phoenix, he reported a 53-count indictment of 20 suspects for buying hundreds of guns intended for illegal export between September 2009 and December 2010. Newell, who was at the conference, called Fast and Furious a "phenomenal case," while denying that guns had been deliberately allowed to walk into Mexico.[3][12]

Altogether, 2,020 firearms were bought by straw purchasers during Fast and Furious.[3] These included AK-47 variants, Barrett .50 caliber sniper rifles, .38 caliber revolvers, and FN Five-sevens.[38] As of October 20, 2011, 389 had been recovered in the US and 276 had been recovered in Mexico. The rest remained on the streets, unaccounted for.[15] Most of the guns went to the Sinaloa Cartel, while others made their way to El Teo and La Familia.[2][28]

Although most weapons were purchased by suspects under investigation by the program, there have been reports of at least one instance of ATF agents being directly involved in the transfer of weapons. On April 13th, 2010, ATF Agent John Dodson, with assistance from Agents Casa and Alt, directed a cooperating straw purchaser to give three guns to Isaiah Fernandez, a suspected gun trafficker, and had taped the conversations without prosecutor approval.[19] After being instructed by his superiors to obtain approval from prosecutors (albeit retroactively), Dodson's proposal was later rejected by his immediate superior David Voth, although he later received permission from Voth's supervisor after submitting a written proposal for the program. On June 1st, 2010, Dodson used $2,500 of ATF funds to purchase six AK Draco pistols from local gun dealers, which he then gave to Mr. Fernandez, who reimbursed him for the expense of the guns, plus $700 for his assistance.[19] Two days later, Agent Dodson went on a scheduled vacation without interdicting the weapons. As a result, the weapons were never recovered, no arrests were ever made, and the case was closed without charges being filed.[19]

Aftermath and reaction

Fate of walked guns

Since the end of Operation Fast and Furious, related firearms have continued to be discovered in criminal hands. As reported in September 2011, the Mexican government stated that an undisclosed number of guns found at about 170 crime scenes were linked to Fast and Furious.[39] U.S. Representative Darrell Issa (R–CA–49) estimated that more than 200 Mexicans were killed by guns linked to the operation.[40] Reflecting on the operation, Attorney General Eric Holder said that the United States government is "...losing the battle to stop the flow of illegal guns to Mexico,"[41] and that the effects of Operation Fast and Furious will most likely continue to be felt for years, as more walked guns appear at Mexican crime scenes.[42]

In April 2011, a large cache of weapons, 40 traced to Fast and Furious but also including military-grade weapons difficult to obtain legally in the US such as an anti-aircraft machine gun and grenade launcher, was found in the home of Jose Antonio Torres Marrufo, a prominent Sinaloa Cartel member, in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. Torres Marrufo was indicted, but evaded law enforcement for a brief time.[43][44] Finally, on February 4, 2012 Marrufo was arrested by the Mexican Police.[45]

On May 29, 2011 four Mexican Federal Police helicopters attacked a cartel compound, where they were met with heavy fire, including from a .50 caliber rifle. According to a report from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, this rifle is likely linked to Fast and Furious.[2]

There have been questions raised over a possible connection between Fast and Furious and the death of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata on February 15, 2011.[46][47] The gun used to kill Zapata was purchased by Otilio Osorio in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, Texas[48] (outside the area of responsibility for the ATF Phoenix field division[49] which conducted Fast and Furious), and then smuggled into Mexico. Congressional investigators have stated that Osorio was known by the ATF to be a straw purchaser months before he purchased the gun used to kill Zapata, leading them to question ATF surveillance tactics[48] and to suspect a Texas-based operation similar to Fast and Furious.[50] In addition to Otilio Osorio, a Texas-based drug and gun trafficker, Manuel Barba, was involved trafficking another of the guns recovered in the Zapata shooting. The timeline of this case, called "Baytown Crew", shows guns were allowed to walk during surveillance that began June 7, 2010. On August 20, 2010 Barba received a rifle later recovered in the Zapata ambush and sent it with nine others to Mexico. The warrant for Barba's arrest was issued February 14, 2011, the day before Zapata was shot.[51] On January 30, 2012, Barba, who claimed to be working with Los Zetas in illegally exporting at least 44 weapons purchased through straw buyers, was sentenced to 100 months in prison.[52]

Investigations and fallout

In the U.S. Congress, Representative Darrell Issa (R–CA–49), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Senator Chuck Grassley (R–IA), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, have been investigating "gunwalking" operations.[53] On January 27, 2011, Grassley wrote a letter to ATF Acting Director Kenneth E. Melson requesting information about the ATF-sanctioned sale of hundreds of firearms to straw purchasers. The letter mentioned a number of allegations that walked guns were used in the fight that killed Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.[54] A second letter from Grassley on January 31 accused the ATF of targeting whistleblowers.[55]

On February 4, Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich wrote a letter to Grassley in response to statements by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona, Dennis K. Burke and others. Weich said claims "...that (the) ATF ‘sanctioned’ or otherwise knowingly allowed the sale of assault weapons to a straw purchaser who then transported them to Mexico [are] false. ATF makes every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally and prevent their transportation to Mexico.”[56][57] Also in February, Attorney General Eric Holder requested that the Department of Justice's Inspector General begin an investigation of Fast and Furious.[58]

On March 23, President Barack Obama appeared on Univision and spoke about the "gunwalking" controversy. He said that neither he nor Attorney General Holder authorized Fast and Furious. He also stated, "There may be a situation here in which a serious mistake was made, and if that's the case then we'll find out and we'll hold somebody accountable."[59]

On May 3, Attorney General Holder testified to the House Judiciary Committee that he did not know who approved Fast and Furious, but that it was being investigated. He also stated that he "probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks," a claim which would later be questioned[60][61][62] as explained below.

In June, ATF Agent Vince Cefalu, who helped to publicize Fast and Furious, was served with termination papers, in a move by the agency he described as politically motivated retaliation. He had been at odds with ATF management since he filed a complaint over tactics in an unrelated case in 2005. The ATF denied that the firing was retaliation, and Cefalu's termination letter noted that he leaked documents to the Internet and showed a "lack of candor" in other operations.[63]

On June 14, 2011, a preliminary joint staff report was released by Representative Issa and Senator Grassley.[11] Among the findings: agents were told to stand down rather than interdict weapons, they complained about the strategy and were ignored, and Fast and Furious led to increased violence and death in Mexico.[64] Agents were panicked, certain that "someone was going to die."[65]

Representative Issa continued to hold hearings in June and July where ATF officials based in Phoenix and Mexico, and at headquarters in Washington, testified before the committee.[66] ATF agent John Dodson stated that he and other agents were ordered to observe the activities of gun smugglers but not to intervene. He testified:[67][68]

Over the course of the next 10 months that I was involved in this operation, we monitored as they purchased hand guns, AK-47 variants, and .50 caliber rifles almost daily. Rather than conduct any enforcement actions, we took notes, we recorded observations, we tracked movements of these individuals for a short time after their purchases, but nothing more. Knowing all the while, just days after these purchases, the guns that we saw these individuals buy would begin turning up at crime scenes in the United States and Mexico, we still did nothing. ...I cannot begin to think of how the risk of letting guns fall into the hands of known criminals could possibly advance any legitimate law enforcement interest.

A second joint staff report was released by the Republicans on July 26.[38]

In August, three important Fast and Furious supervisors were transferred to new management positions at ATF headquarters in Washington: William Newell and David Voth, field supervisors who oversaw the program from Phoenix, and William McMahon, an ATF deputy director of operations. The transfers were initially reported as promotions by the Los Angeles Times, but the ATF stated that they did not receive raises or take on greater responsibilities.[53][69] In late August, it was announced that ATF Director Melson had been reassigned to the Justice Department, and U.S. Attorney Burke announced his resignation after being questioned by Congressional investigators earlier that month.[70]

In October, documents showing that Attorney General Holder's office had been sent briefings on Fast and Furious as early as July 2010, prompted questions about his May statement that he wasn't sure of the exact date, but had known about it for only a few weeks. The briefings were from the National Drug Intelligence Center and Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer. The Justice Department said that those briefings were about a different case started before Holder became Attorney General, and that while he had known about Fast and Furious, he didn't know the details of the tactics being used.[62]

On November 8, Holder stated for the first time in Congressional testimony that "gunwalking" was used in Fast and Furious. He remarked that the tactic is unacceptable, and that the operation was "flawed in its concept and flawed in its execution." He further stated that his office had inaccurately described the program in previous letters sent to Congress, but that this was unintentional. Reiterating previous testimony, he said that he and other top officials had been unaware that the "gunwalking" tactic was being used. Holder stated that his staff had not showed him memos about the program, noting, "There is nothing in any of those memos that indicates any of those inappropriate tactics that are of concern. Those things were not brought to my attention, and my staff, I think, made the correct decision in that regard."[60][71][72]

In December, documents showed that some ATF agents discussed using Fast and Furious to provide anecdotal cases to support controversial new rules about gun sales. The regulation, called Demand Letter 3, would require 8,500 firearms dealers in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas that "have a significant number of crime guns traced back to them from Mexico" to report multiple rifle sales.[73]

Investigations by Congress and the DOJ Inspector General continued into 2012. In January, Patrick Cunningham, who was the criminal division chief at the Phoenix office of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Arizona and has since resigned, asserted his innocence and his constitutional right against self-incrimination to avoid testifying.[74] Cunningham worked directly under Burke during Fast and Furious. He was subpoenaed because of the role he might have played in the operation, and in the letter sent from the DOJ to Senator Grassley in February 2011 that claimed the ATF did not allow weapons to be trafficked to Mexico.[75]

On January 31, Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee released a report titled, "Fatally Flawed: Five Years of Gunwalking in Arizona".[32] The report concluded that there was no evidence of involvement by high-ranking appointees at the Justice Department in "gunwalking." Rather, Operation Fast and Furious was just one of four such operations conducted over five years during the Bush and Obama administrations, and was only "the latest in a series of fatally flawed operations run by ATF agents in Phoenix and the Arizona U.S. Attorney's Office."[76]

In May, it was reported that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General had begun to investigate Fast and Furious, with a report expected in October. The DHS had Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents assigned to the operation after becoming involved in late 2009.[77]

On June 7, 2012, under the threat of being held in contempt of Congress for not turning over additional requested documents, Attorney General Holder appeared at his seventh Congressional hearing, where he continued to deny knowledge of "gunwalking" by high-level officials. By then, the Justice Department had turned over more than 7,000 pages of documents.[78] During the June 12, 2012 Senate hearing, Eric Holder stated, "If you want to talk about Fast and Furious, I'm the Attorney General that put an end to the misguided tactics that were used in Fast and Furious. An Attorney General who I suppose you would hold in higher regard was briefed on these kinds of tactics in an operation called Wide Receiver and did nothing to stop them -- nothing. Three hundred guns, at least, walked in that instance." Holder cited a briefing paper on "Wide Receiver", later clarified to be about the Fidel Hernandez case, prepared for Holder's predecessor, U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey in 2007. The Attorney General's office further explained, "As Attorney General Holder also noted in his testimony, and as we have set forth in prior correspondence and testimony, he took measures and instituted a series of important reforms designed to ensure that the inappropriate tactics used in Fast and Furious, Wide Receiver, Hernandez, and other matters about which the Department has informed Congress are not repeated."[31]

On June 20, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted along party lines to recommend that Holder be held in contempt. At issue were 1,300 pages of documents that had not been turned over to Congress by the DOJ. Earlier that day, President Obama had invoked executive privilege over those documents, marking the first time the privilege has been asserted during his presidency.[79][80] Mr. Issa contends that the Obama executive privilege claim is a cover-up or an obstruction to the congressional probe. Mr. Issa said the department has identified "140,000 pages of documents and communications responsive to the committee's subpoena."[81]

On Thursday, June 28, 2012, Holder became the first sitting member of the Cabinet of the United States to be held in criminal contempt of Congress by the House of Representatives for refusing to disclose internal Justice Department documents in response to a subpoena. The vote was 255-67 in favor, with 17 Democrats voting yes and a large number of Democrats walking off the floor in protest and refusing to vote. A civil contempt measure was also voted on and passed, 258-95. The civil contempt vote allows the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to go to court with a civil lawsuit to look into the US Justice Department's refusal to turn over some of the subpoenaed documents and to test Obama's assertion of executive privilege. Holder dismissed the votes as "the regrettable culmination of what became a misguided — and politically motivated — investigation during an election year," and the White House called it "political theater rather than legitimate congressional oversight."[82][83]

On July 9, 2012, an indictment charging five men, including four fugitives, in the death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was unsealed. The FBI offered a reward of $250,000 per fugitive for information leading to their arrests. The indictment, originally handed up on November 7, 2011, charges Manuel Osorio-Arellanes, Jesus Rosario Favela-Astorga, Ivan Soto-Barraza, Heraclio Osorio-Arellanes and Lionel Portillo-Meza with first-degree murder, second-degree murder, and other crimes.[90][91]

On July 31, the first part of a new three-part report, Fast and Furious: The Anatomy of a Failed Operation,[92] was released by Republican lawmakers. The report singled out five ATF supervisors for responsibility in Fast and Furious, all of whom had been previously reassigned. The report also said that Fast and Furious resulted from a change in strategy by the Obama Administration. The Justice Department was dismissive of the report, saying that it contained "distortions" and "debunked conspiracy theories," and that "gunwalking" tactics dated back to 2006.[93] DOJ spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler, while critical of the report, did credit it for acknowledging that the idea for "gun walking" -- allowing illegal sales of weapons on the border -- originated under the Republican administration before Eric Holder took office in 2009. Schmaler noted that Holder moved swiftly to replace the ATF's management and instill reforms.[94] On the same day, ATF Deputy Director William Hoover, who was one of the five blamed in the Congressional report, officially retired.[95]

Mexican reaction

In October 2011, Mexican officials and politicians reacted with anger at the revelation that U.S. agents in charge of an earlier secret gun-tracking program known as Operation Wide Receiver allowed guns to be smuggled into Mexico just as they had under Operation Fast and Furious. In discussions in Mexico's Senate about how to respond to the revelations about Operation Wide Receiver, one senator said, "We can no longer tolerate what is occurring. There must be condemnation from the state."[96]

The Office of the General Prosecutor in Mexico is seeking the extradition of six citizens of the United States implicated with smuggling weapons.[97] Three of the requested citizens for extradition are from Madera, California, while the other three are from the state of Texas.[98] The current Attorney General of Mexico, Marisela Morales, said the PGR will search "to the end" in order to clarify what happened in Fast and Furious.[99]

Operation Wide Receiver involved several failed attempts at coordinating with Mexican law enforcement in the apprehension of suspected arms traffickers, with Mexican authorities in one instance saying they didn't see the vehicle cross the border.[32] Details of Operation Fast and Furious were not shared with Mexican government officials and they were deliberately kept out of the loop after related firearms began to be found at crime scenes and in criminal arsenals in 2010. The U.S. Embassy in Mexico and ATF office in Mexico were also kept in the dark. According to Attorney General Morales, the Mexican government was told about the undercover program in January 2011, but they were not provided details at the time. Darren Gil, the acting ATF attache in Mexico City, and others noted that the reason Mexican authorities were not informed was the widespread corruption among officials in Mexico.[100] Mexican politicians expressed widespread anger at the operations as information developed in 2011.[101] Mexican officials stated in September that the US government still had not briefed them on what went wrong nor had they apologized.[100]

Mexican Senator Arturo Escobar stated, "We can no longer tolerate what is occurring. There must be condemnation from the state," and that the Mexican Senate condemned the actions of the ATF.[101][102]

Jorge Carlos Ramírez Marín, president of the Chamber of Deputies of Mexico from the Institutional Revolutionary Party, said "This is a serious violation of international law. What happens if next time they need to introduce trained assassins or nuclear weapons?"[103]

Attorney General of Mexico Marisela Morales, well-liked by US law enforcement, said, in reference to Fast and Furious, "At no time did we know or were we made aware that there might have been arms trafficking permitted. In no way would we have allowed it, because it is an attack on the safety of Mexicans." In addition, she expressed that allowing weapons to "walk" would represent a "betrayal" of Mexico.[100]

Chihuahua state prosecutor Patricia Gonzalez, who had worked closely with the US for years, said, "The basic ineptitude of these officials [who ordered the Fast and Furious operation] caused the death of my brother and surely thousands more victims." Her brother, Mario, had been kidnapped, tortured and killed by cartel hit men in fall 2010. Later, two AK-47 rifles found among the several weapons recovered after a gunfight between police and cartel members were traced to the Fast and Furious program.[2][100]

Some Mexican officials were more circumspect. For example, Mexican Congressman Humberto Benítez Treviño, a former attorney general, called Fast and Furious "a bad business that got out of hand."[100] He had also characterized it as "an undercover program that wasn't properly controlled."[103]
Like many politicians, Mexican pundits across the political spectrum expressed anger at news of the operations. La Jornada, a left-leaning newspaper, asked "US: ally or enemy?"[104] The paper also argued that the Mérida Initiative should be immediately suspended. A right-leaning paper accused the US of violating Mexican sovereignty.[101]

Manuel J. Jauregui of the Reforma newspaper wrote, "In sum, the gringo (American) government has been sending weapons to Mexico in a premeditated and systematic manner, knowing that their destinations were Mexican criminal organizations."[101]