The stories often lost in the horrific aftermath of Operation Fast and Furious are about the countless and faceless murder victims in Mexico left behind as a result of the lethal program. In September 2011, Townhall reported the Fast and Furious death toll in Mexico as 200, that number has since jumped to what former Chihuahua Attorney General Patricia Gonzales Rodriguez describes as "surely thousands." Tonight, Spanish language television network Univision is expected to air a bombshell investigative report finally putting a face on innocent Mexican citizens used as collateral damage and killed south of the border as a result of the reckless decisions by the Holder Justice Department.
Who are the human faces of the U.S. government's botched "Fast and Furious" gun-walking operation?
Often lost amid the rancor in Washington are the stories of dozens of people killed by guns that flowed south as part of the undercover operation, and later slipped out of view from U.S. officials. Univision's Investigative Unit (Univision Investiga) has identified massacres committed using guns from the ATF operation, including the killing of 16 young people attending a party in a residential area of Ciudad Juárez in January of 2010.
Additional guns, previously unreported by congressional investigators, found their way into the hands of drug traffickers across Latin America in countries such as, Honduras and Colombia, as well as the U.S. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. A person familiar with the recent congressional hearings called Univision's findings "the holy grail" that Congress had been searching for.
One of the most famous murders carried out with Fast and Furious weapons in Mexico was the killing of Mario Gonzales Rodriguez, the brother of Patricia Gonzales Rodriguez. The blood soaked crime scenes are endless.
Fast and Furious guns have befouled at least 200 crime scenes. Among them:
Members of the La Familia drug gang fired at a Mexican Federal Police helicopter on May 24, 2011, wounding three officers and forcing it to make an emergency landing near Michoacán in western Mexico.
Five days later, four more helicopters attacked La Familia. The gang returned fire, striking all four choppers and injuring another two government agents.
The police prevailed, killing eleven cartel members and arresting 36 — including those suspected of targeting the first chopper and its passengers.
Mexican authorities say La Familia possessed heavy-duty body armor and 70 rifles, including several Fast and Furious weapons.
Two weapons purchased by Fast and Furious targets were recovered in Sonora on July 1, 2010, and tied to a “Homicide/Willful Kill — Gun,” the U.S. Justice Department revealed last September 9.
Two Fast and Furious guns were linked to a February 2010 assassination conspiracy against Baja California’s then–police chief, Julian Leyzaola.
Four Fast and Furious guns were found on January 8, 2010, and connected to a “kidnap/ransom.”
“Americans have been getting a lot of information about the possible cover-up in the Justice Department, the tragedy of Brian Terry getting killed, but what about the Mexicans?” says Miami-based Gerardo Reyes, Univision’s director of investigative reporting, in an interview Saturday with the Monitor.
“The sinister part of this, and I know it sounds very hard, is that the success of this operation depended in part on the fact that the guns were used in Mexico to kill,” says Mr. Reyes. “In order to reach the target of the operation, which was identifying the drug traffickers who were using the guns, [ATF agents] were waiting for the guns to be used. And how are guns used in Mexico? Killing people. I talked to an ATF agent who said there was no other way to explain it.”
The report by Univision couldn't come at a worse time for the Obama administration. If the issues of transparency and Mexico come up (which they will) in the presidential debates between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama starting next week, Obama will have some serious explaining to do. The trust with Mexico has been severely damaged as a result of this program and Univision's report tonight will further show this to be true.
|Katie Pavlich is the News Editor at Townhall.com. Follow her on Twitter @katiepavlich. She is also the author of Fast and Furious: Barack Obama's Bloodiest Scandal and the Shameless Cover-Up.
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Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography