While the remaining details of Operation Fast and Furious continue to be locked up in a court battle, the real world consequences of the lethal operation continue to emerge. Over the weekend, the Los Angeles Times reported a Mexican police chief has been killed with a gun trafficked into Mexico through Fast and Furious.
As a reminder, nearly 1400 Fast and Furious guns are still missing and as David Codrea points out, the operation was never intended to track the guns now being used in murders south of the border.
A high-powered rifle lost in the ATF’s Fast and Furious controversy was used to kill a Mexican police chief in the state of Jalisco earlier this year, according to internal Department of Justice records, suggesting that weapons from the failed gun-tracking operation have now made it into the hands of violent drug cartels deep inside Mexico.
Luis Lucio Rosales Astorga, the police chief in the city of Hostotipaquillo, was shot to death Jan. 29 when gunmen intercepted his patrol car and opened fire. Also killed was one of his bodyguards. His wife and a second bodyguard were wounded.
Local authorities said eight suspects in their 20s and 30s were arrested after police seized them nearby with a cache of weapons — rifles, grenades, handguns, helmets, bulletproof vests, uniforms and special communications equipment. The area is a hot zone for rival drug gangs, with members of three cartels fighting over turf in the region.
A semi-automatic WASR rifle, the firearm that killed the chief, was traced back to the Lone Wolf Trading Company, a gun store in Glendale, Ariz. The notation on the Department of Justice trace records said the WASR was used in a “HOMICIDE – WILLFUL – KILL –PUB OFF –GUN” –ATF code for “Homicide, Willful Killing of a Public Official, Gun.”
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives allowed illegal purchasers to buy the firearms at the Lone Wolf store in the Phoenix suburb and other gun shops in hopes of tracing them to Mexican cartel leaders.
A Mexican police chief was killed earlier this year with a rifle traced back to the gun store at the center of the Fast and Furious “gunwalking” operation, Richard A. Serrano of The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday. The attack -- killing the chief and his bodyguard, and wounding his wife and a second bodyguard -- occurred in Jalisco, “suggesting that weapons from the failed gun-tracking operation have now made it into the hands of violent drug cartels deep inside Mexico,” Serrano wrote.
That terminology, along with the ubiquitous “botched gun sting,” has been the primary meme used by vulnerable government officials and their media water-carriers to deflect attention -- and dismiss as paranoid NRA/rightwing conspiracy theory any suggestion that intent existed to exploit Mexican crimes scene guns traceable to U.S. sources.
That’s despite whistleblower sources claiming in early January, 2011, that guns were being walked “to pad statistics.”
As Attorney General Eric Holder remains in contempt of Congress while trying to dodge multiple scandals, it is important to remind everyone that Operation Fast and Furious is the only Department of Justice scandal with a body count.