Agents at the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) have come forward to reveal a shocking piece of information: Gun running has run amuck in the Mexican drug war. There is now an investigation going on to determine what exactly happened. It has been dubbed Operation Fast and Furious.
Here’s what you need to know.
Felipe Calderon was elected as President of Mexico in 2006, and declared that he was going to end the drug trafficking culture of the state. There were a lot of big bad drug lords in Mexico, so Calderon took them out.
The problem is that the only way to really make money in Mexico is through drug trafficking. They have some pretty insane business and property laws in Mexico, so setting up and running a successful business is near impossible. So if a person desires fame and fortune, they turn to the black market -- namely the illegal drug market.
So President Calderon took out the drug lords, but all that did was create a vacuum in which the wannabe drug lords started fighting for dominance to become big kahunas. This is where all of the drug violence you’ve been hearing about in the news comes from: Criminals fighting each other for the Big Bad Guy title.
On our side of the border, ATF has been trying to keep violence to a minimum by strictly monitoring gun sales, so that the firearms don’t end up in the hands of the Mexican drug lords. Recently agents have come forward to reveal that ATF has used a gun running strategy, a controversial technique that has resulted in the deaths of many (including border agents) by weapons purchased in the United States.
Gun running is an undercover tactic in which guns are sold to suspicious characters (like those paying with cash out of paper bags), with the idea that they will be followed and lead to the big bad guys, who then can be taken down. Essentially, it involves arming the enemy with hope that it will lead to the capture of a worse enemy.
One of the agents that has come forward, Rene Jaquez, is opposed to gun running. He says, "You don't let guns walk. I've never let a gun walk ... I think this incidence is probably one of the darkest days in ATF's history."
Apparently the order to let guns "walk" into the hands of drug cartels came from the top -- the justice department. President Obama denies any knowledge of the operation, but admits, “Serious mistakes may have been made.”
It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.
Image via Tektum/Flickr