The “walked” guns draw blood south of the border.
The American people finally have heard of Brian Terry. He is the best-known victim of Fast and Furious, an Obama-administration conventional-weapons-proliferation program. Between November 2009 and January 2011, Team Obama arranged for licensed firearms dealers to sell guns to straw buyers, who transferred them to known violent criminals in Mexico. Two of these firearms, AK-47s, were found near Rio Rico, Ariz., where suspected smugglers fatally shot Terry, a 40-year-old former Marine, on December 15, 2010.
“I do not fear death,” Terry once wrote. “I do fear the loss of my honor, and would rather die fighting than have it said I was without courage.”
While Brian Terry is the most visible victim of this notorious policy, he is not its sole casualty.
On February 15, 2011, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata, 32, was shot mortally in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. Members of Los Zetas drug gang also hit ICE Agent Victor Avila in that ambush, although not fatally. This assault involved a rifle purchased in Dallas in another Obama administration “gunwalking” escapade.
Largely overlooked is this plan’s calamitous impact on Mexico, its people, and U.S.-Mexican relations. Fast and Furious has spilled American blood. But south of the border, it has made blood gush like an oil strike.
“One of the things that’s so offensive about this case is that our federal government knowingly, willfully, purposefully gave the drug cartels nearly 2,000 weapons — mainly AK-47s — and allowed them to walk,” Representative Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah) told NBC News. These arms were supposed to lead federal agents in Phoenix to the Mexican thugs who acquired them. Instead, Fast and Furious guns melted into Mexico without a trace.
These weapons became invisible, but not silent.
Approximately 300 Mexicans have been killed or wounded by Fast and Furious guns, estimates former Mexican attorney general Victor Humberto Benítez Treviño. Now the chairman of the Mexican Chamber of Deputies’ Justice Committee, Benítez told the Los Angeles Times that Fast and Furious “was a bad business that got out of hand.”
Relevant details are scarce. However, at least one case generated enormous headlines in Mexico. Here is what happened, according to a July 26, 2011, joint report by House Government Reform Committee chairman Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) and Senate Judiciary Committee ranking Republican Charles Grassley of Iowa.
On October 21, 2010, Sinaloa drug cartel members kidnapped Mario Gonzalez Rodriguez, brother of Chihuahua State’s then–attorney general, Patricia Gonzalez Rodriguez. She believed his abduction was in retaliation for her prosecution of Sinaloa narco-traffickers. A video promptly emerged showing Mario in handcuffs, surrounded by five armed, masked captors. That November 5, his tortured body was discovered in a shallow grave. Mexican police soon nabbed his suspected kidnappers after a shootout. Serial numbers confirm that two of the 16 weapons seized from eight of these hoodlums were Fast and Furious guns. These also were tied to the kidnappings of two people.
Patricia Gonzalez Rodriguez said, “The basic ineptitude of these officials caused the death of my brother and surely thousands more victims.”
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.”