Free Markets, Free People

Mexican officials learned of “Gunwalker” from news reports

How about setting up an operation that allows illegal guns to be “walked” into another sovereign nation – a friendly nation — and see them tied to hundreds of murders.  If you were that friendly nation, and had to find out about this violation of your sovereignty via the news media, would you be happy?

Of course not.  And neither is Mexico.  The entire “Gunwalker” fiasco was done without consulting Mexico a single time. Marisela Morales, Mexico’s Attorney General, is understandably unhappy about that.

Marisela Morales, Mexico’s attorney general and a longtime favorite of American law enforcement agents in Mexico, told The Times that she first learned about Fast and Furious from news reports. And to this day, she said, U.S. officials have not briefed her on the operation gone awry, nor have they apologized.

"At no time did we know or were we made aware that there might have been arms trafficking permitted," Morales, Mexico’s highest-ranking law enforcement official, said in a recent interview. "In no way would we have allowed it, because it is an attack on the safety of Mexicans."

Morales said she did not want to draw conclusions before the outcome of U.S. investigations, but that deliberately letting weapons "walk" into Mexico — with the intention of tracing the guns to drug cartels — would represent a "betrayal" of a country enduring a drug war that has killed more than 40,000 people. U.S. agents lost track of hundreds of weapons under the program.

How could they apologize, Ms. Morales – according to them, none of the top guys knew this was even going on (/sarc).

But the point is clear – this is either the most inept operation ever conceived and executed, or there’s some other ulterior motive to be assigned.  Or perhaps both.  Things like this unwillingness to notify Mexico or bring them in on the operation tend to have one consider that there might have been an alternate agenda, even if one isn’t inclined to be very open to conspiracy theories.

Anyway, back to Mexico:

Atty. Gen. Morales said it was not until January that the Mexican government was told of the existence of an undercover program that turned out to be Fast and Furious. At the time, Morales said, Mexico was not provided details.

U.S. officials gave their Mexican counterparts access to information involving a group of 20 suspects arrested in Arizona. These arrests would lead to the only indictment to emerge from Fast and Furious.

"It was then that we learned of that case, of the arms trafficking," Morales told The Times. "They haven’t admitted to us that there might have been permitted trafficking. Until now, they continue denying it to us."

Mexico is the beneficiary of the Obama open hand approach to foreign policy – a slap in the face.  And that famous transparency is evident as well.

Shoe on the other foot time.  How do you suppose we would react if Mexico did the same sort of thing to us?  Any inkling of what would be going on now if they were letting guns walk into the US and then finding them at murder scenes?

Yeah, no arrogance to be found here.

In June, Canino, the ATF attache, was finally allowed to say something to Atty. Gen. Morales about the weapons used by Mario Gonzalez’s captors, thought to be members of the powerful Sinaloa cartel.

"I wanted her to find out from me, because she is an ally of the U.S. government," he testified.

Canino later told congressional investigators that Morales was shocked.

"Hijole!" he recalled her saying, an expression that roughly means, "Oh no!"

Canino testified that Fast and Furious guns showed up at nearly 200 crime scenes.

Mexican Congressman Humberto Benitez Trevino, who heads the justice committee in the Chamber of Deputies, said the number of people killed or wounded by the weapons had probably doubled to 300 since March, when he said confidential information held by Mexican security authorities put the figure at 150. The higher number, he said, was his own estimate.

A former attorney general, Benitez labeled the operation a "failure," but said it did not spell a collapse of the two nations’ shared fight against organized crime groups.

"It was a bad business that got out of hand," he said in an interview.

Many Mexican politicians responded angrily when the existence of the program became known in March, with several saying it amounted to a breach of Mexican sovereignty. But much of that anger has subsided, possibly in the interest of not aggravating the bilateral relationship. For Mexico, the U.S. gun problem goes far beyond the Fast and Furious program. Of weapons used in crimes and traced, more than 75% come from the U.S.

"Yes, it was bad and wrong, and you have to ask yourself, what were they thinking?" a senior official in Calderon’s administration said, referring to Fast and Furious. "But, given the river of weapons that flows into Mexico from the U.S., do a few more make a big difference?"

Still, Mexican leaders are under pressure to answer questions from their citizens, with very little to go on.

"The evidence is over there [north of the border]," Morales said. "I can’t put a pistol to their heads and say, ‘Now give it to me or else.’ I can’t."

You have to love the pistol analogy, given the circumstances, don’t you?

The official reason for not notifying Mexico that the US had decided to violate its sovereignty with this operation was ostensibly fear of corruption and that the details of the operation would be leaked to the drug cartels.   OK, understood, but still it doesn’t excuse what we wouldn’t tolerate if the tables were turned.   You either have a cooperative working relationship with law enforcement officials in Mexico (including all the attendant risks that entails) or you don’t.  You can’t selectively choose when and when not to share information if you expect to maintain a reciprocal and meaningful relationship.

This operation has obviously done more than put guns at the scene of 200 Mexican crime scenes.  It has damaged relations with a close and friendly neighboring state. 



Twitter: @McQandO

27 Responses to Mexican officials learned of “Gunwalker” from news reports

  • Well, President Limp Duck pissed in that stew, well and truly.
    As to the fig-leaf offered by the Obami…fear of corruption…that would apply equally to our own people.  Corruption works on both sides of the border.  It may be culturally less OK on this side, but I’d have to see some support for that making a big difference.
    Among the Obami, corruption is SOP.

    • There is obviously much more corruption in Mexico, but some is also on this side of the border. And as a matter of fact, there has been corruption along the border, where customs or BP agents have enabled smuggling.

      Without a means of tracking south of the border, F&F makes no sense as a LEO operation. Keeping the Mexicans shut out pretty much eliminates any tracking south of the border. WTF is the point of waving goodby to the guns as they cross the border?

      • Couple of observations…
        1. Mexico is not monolithic.  There are great, dedicated, incorruptible people in Mexico.  They tend to get killed, so they are USUALLY courageous people, to boot.
        2. I think the THEORY was that American agents in Mexico were supposed to successfully track the guns.  THAT HAD to be an obvious weak link in the planning.  IT COULD NOT have been unapparent in execution.  That is…THEY KNEW IT WAS NOT WORKING, but continuedTHAT is the killer.

        • Mexico is not monolithic, but it does have much more of a culture of corruption then we do. Mexico and other Latin American countries have a culture that is more person centered and less law centered. Who you are is more important over there then here, what the law says is less important.

          I have a little experience on the topic, I grew up within sight of mexico, with a non-hispanic father who spoke fluent Spanish (as did his father), and I’ve had quite a few interations in Mexico. I also have south american in-laws.

          down there, who you are and who you know is critically important, and laws are applied selectively. There is some of that up here, since it is part of human nature, however Anglo-American culture has managed to minimize it, probably because it goes against optimal interaction in a free market.

          Now, on the idea of American agents in Mexico tracking the guns, I’d really have to see how they intended to do that. How was security going to be provided to the agents in Mexico without Mexican cooperation, for example? I have heard almost nothing on the planned follow up on the Mex side of the border.

          • you are correct about the culture of corruption inherited from the Spanish colonials. but the current massive corruption of both Mexico and the USA is really a legacy of the war on drugs.  Get rid of that source of revenue and you kill most of the problem.
            Of course the cartels would move on to other things they would not simply go away, but there would still be less cash and less corruption.

          • Sort of a nit, but I’d blame the American indian natives as well as the Spanish for the corruption. Latin America is very much a mix of native and Spaniard, and both brought their corruption into the mix.

            To further go off topic, I’ve often heard of the “superiority” the the Spanish approach vs the English approach, since the Spanish mixed with the natives. It is claimed that the English did not mix because they were racists.

            The Spanish approach was conquest, rape, forced conversion, and the encomienda system (a form of feudalism). That said the Spanish crown did not approve of much of the bad behaviour, and in some cases the bad behaviour was difficult to avoid (Cortz had opposed the encomienda system when he was in Cuba but had no choice but to resort to it in Mexico). And in many cases the Spanish did not resort to rape, but simply took advantage of local women who preferred the men who were in charge.

            The English who settled Jamestown were under orders to treat the natives well, and bought land from them. They even set up a school to teach both English and indians. The first major war was the 1622 massacre when the indians attempted to kill the English settlers. Of course, the English settlement began in 1607, and the Spanish conquests were back in the early 1500s, so the comparison isn’t entirly fair.

            The key reason the Eglish did not intermarry was religion (religion was the preoccupation of their time, race is the preoccupation of the left in or time). For an English prodestant, marrying a pagan was problamatic. The Spanish Catholics could resort to forced conversion.

        • American agents in Mexico
          That’s also the part that cannot be talked about outside chambers.

  • It wasn’t about what it did to Mexico, they didn’t give a damn about that, and they didn’t give a damn about the casualties that would be suffered on either side of the border.  It’s not an accident that Mexicans died as a result of this, it’s A FEATURE. They were interested in enacting further gun laws to satisfy the progressive agenda, and as is absolutely typical for marxist socialists, they’re not really worried about individuals.  Some people needed to die in order to justify what they wanted to do.  Mexicans die, American gun worship is blamed, laws are enacted in America to blunt ownership.
    All you’re seeing with their attitude towards Mexico is exactly the way you read it, arrogance.   Remember, they’re superior to the average American, and therefor they’re superior to the average Mexican.

    • I think you are correct, although I’m not quite yet to announce cartainty about the intent of F&F. I wanna see where all this goes. I would be happy to see Obama’s re-election tour broken up by a congressional hearing that brings him in to answer difficult questions. Hearing Zero hem and haw without the aid of a teleprompter, while a man like Issa asks him pointed questions would be pure joy, particularly in the summer of 2012.

      I do wonder how much traction they expected to get out of this. I simply don’t see why a typical American would decide to give up their rights because Mexicans are killing each other.

    • Kinda speaks volumes about how they value Mexican lives, too, huh?
      Which is TOTALLY consistent with how the Collective values human life generally.  History tells the story very, very clearly.

      • “Kinda speaks volumes about how they value Mexican lives, too, huh?”
        Necessary casualties in the advancement of their social dreams.  Really, a 16 year old can see how this has to work in order to be what they claim it was.  We’re not talking about people selling candy bars or alcohol and illegally smuggling them into Mexico for resale – we’re talking fire arms, they only have one real purpose in the same way a saber does.
        So let’s see what you have to be thinking to run this kind of operation without undue risk to innocents – I know nothing about selling guns illegally, but let’s just apply some reasonable deductions, made by, as my minimal legal training indicates, ‘the reasonable man’.
        1) You’re selling guns trying to see if they’ll be moved south of the border.  You HAVE to track them from the point of purchase until they cross the border to be sure they went across the border.
        2) presumably you have to have Mexican law enforcement in on the deal to facilitate the tracking inside Mexico and to avoid revealing your operation by inadvertent action by said same Mexican law enforcement.  You HAVE to track them once inside Mexico to see if they go to the Cartels, or if they end up in the hands of young Juanito Banque Roberro to be used for his own nefarious purposes.
        3) Serial number noting is not sufficient otherwise the ONLY way you’re ever sure they were used was if you find them AT a scene, abandoned (what? the French were carrying them?) or you capture them in the hands or locales of desperadoes, and then, via ballistics, track them back to perforated victims.  So the LAST way you want to have them appear again is for them to be actually USED in acts of violence (which is PRECISELY THE WAY THEY APPEARED AGAIN in Fast and Futile)
        As a result:
        4) You track them up until they get to the point where they go from the hands of the buyer to the hands of the purchaser, and then YOU MUST APPREHEND THEM BOTH or you’ve just turned a deadly weapon loose for use on who knows who.  Certainly the purchaser isn’t going to cooperate with you following him around to see how he uses the damn thing.
        That being said:
        5) In order to apprehend them IN MEXICO, You MUST have Mexican law enforcement involved so they can make the arrests, because, well, frankly Mr Anglo sheriff, you’re jurisdeection, she ends at the Rio Grande eh?
        Now, that’s not an easy set of criteria due to the dangers in tracking without tipping your hand and outing the operation, but it’s a resonable way to do this, and furthermore, no matter WHAT you do, short of busting them before they get to use them, you have just turned weapons over to the bad guys and they get to do what they want with them now.
        So, add it up –
        They tracked the numbers only, they didn’t involve Mexican Law enforcement, they didn’t apprehend when they went from smuggler to buyer.
        To a reasonable man, there’s only two possible conclusions to draw –
        they’re complete and utter idiots who aren’t qualified to be leading law enforcement or anti smuggling operations
        they got almost all of what they planned, except they got caught because the damned fool Mexican clowns dropped the weapons at the scene of the crime where there was a dead American they couldn’t just sweep under the carpet.
        How do you justify allowing killing devices to be smuggled into another country without them being alerted to it unless you’re either trying to destabilize that country, or you just flat don’t give a crap what happens on the other side of your border.  These guys behaved no better than an arms dealer.
        Now, WHY do you do such a thing?   Again, either to destabilize the smuggled into country, or to cause a ruckus in your own country over fire arms, how easy they are to acquire, and how easy they are to misuse and abuse.   You don’t launch this kind of operation as a learning exercise, or a practice in curiosity.

        • Wow.  Great analysis.  I think you really hit the nail on the head especially with points #4 and #5: don’t wait until AFTER they’ve been used in a crime to “track” them, and why the hell weren’t the Mexicans informed so they could cooperate???

          I couldn’t make up my mind whether this was simply BATF / FBI / DoJ incompetence, or real malice on the part of the administration.  My mind’s made up: they did it on purpose.  Not even Janet Reno was this stupid.

  • The key issue as I see it is that there is no rational logic behind F&F. Letting guns cross the border without means of following them and arresting the smugglers has no obvious law enforcement value.

    For the operation to make sense, you either have to stop the guns before they cross the border, or else you have to track them on the other side of the border. We let the guns cross, but had no means of tracking them south of the border.

    What is left is just a plan to arm cartels with guns from American gunstores. The likely reason for this is to boost gun control, or rather that is the only reason that seems to make sense. The odd thing in my view is that I don’t think Americans are gonna say “gee, let’s restrict our freedom because Mexican drug cartels are exploiting it in their drug war”.

  • Marisela Morales, Mexico’s attorney general…

    Yeah, THERE’s a job I’d like to have. 

    Many Mexican politicians responded angrily when the existence of the program became known in March, with several saying it amounted to a breach of Mexican sovereignty.

    Oh, ya think???  That’s because it IS a breach of sovereignty, and the Mexicans have a right to be seriously, seriously p*ssed about it.

    But much of that anger has subsided, possibly in the interest of not aggravating the bilateral relationship. For Mexico, the U.S. gun problem goes far beyond the Fast and Furious program. Of weapons used in crimes and traced, more than 75% come from the U.S.

    First of all, it must really rankle them that we’ve screwed them over and they’ve got to shut up and like it.  Second, where does this “75%” number come from?  And didn’t Bad Luck Barry tell us that it was more like 95%?

    This whole mess is disgraceful, no matter how you look at it.  Either our law enforcement agents are arrogant, incompetent fools, or else they are being given stupid orders by superiors who are arrogant, incompetent fools.  Lucky for us we’ve got Mexico under our thumb, else they’d likely be arresting and perhaps hanging a few US agents for what amounts to espionage. (Why the hell couldn’t we do this in Iran???)

    Anybody know what the House and Senate foreign relations committees are doing?  Or are they totally tied up with ignoring Libyan, Iranian nukes, and Israel?

    RagspierreKinda speaks volumes about how they value Mexican lives, too, huh?

    Yeah, the left only cares about Mexicans when they are being deported for being here illegally or when their right to vote (for democrats) is denied because (gasp!) they are here illegally.

    And conservatives are supposed to be racists… Sheesh.

    • The Mexican government produced a comic book manual on how to illegally cross the border. Given their behaviour (that is just one example), I’m having a hard time feeling sorry that F&F violates their sovereinty.

      To some extent I think they have to suck it up. The people who conducted F&F are the same ones who don’t want to enforce immigration, but who want to restrict guns. Making too big of deal about F&F would hurt some of Mexico’s political goals in the US.

      As far as US guns in Mexico, the numbers thrown around are on traced guns. But something like 90% of guns are not traced. It only makes sense to trace guns that can be traced, and this rules out guns that obviously come from before 1968 or from Central America. AK-47s coming from Central America can’t be traced, and a Galil would have Israeli origins and Central American military usage. What they trace is the guns that appear to come from the US. What the stat really is is that “X% of guns that we thought came from the US in fact came from the US”. The majority of the guns come from south of mexico or from the Mexican police or military. There waa a good analysis of this, but off the top of my head they traced about 10% of guns and about 90% of those came from the US.

      • I agree that the Mexican government isn’t exactly pure as the driven snow, but they didn’t deserve to be f*cked over like this.  They are not our enemy, or even People We Don’t Like.  Further, it MIGHT be that there’d be fewer Mexicans willing to risk death to get here if their country wasn’t such a crime- and corruption-infested sh*thole.

        • I don’t think violationg their soverinty in this manner is OK. It is just that I think it is hypocritical of them to get upset about it, since they would have no issue violating ours. But I think we should behave better then that.

  • CBS keeps rolling out audio tapes of the coverup ..

    (Read text of the audio excerpts below.)
    The gun dealer is Andre Howard, the agent is ATF Agent Hope MacAllister.
    Dealer: He’s (Dodson) more toxic than you realize. I can tell you casue I asked him. How much of this f—–g file did you release?
    Agent: Mmmhm
    Dealer: He said basically the underlying case file. I said okay, who’d you release it to? F—–g Patrick Leahy! Ok? Wasn’t just Grassley it was Leahy alright? Leahy as we both know has adjourned this inquiry right now okay with no plans to reconvene it. So your people were successful on that end.
    Agent: Right.
    Dealer: Obviously that’s good. However these other idiots from
    Agent: Yeah I saw that. The House?

    Dealer: Yeah and that I don’t know. What is troublesome with this I expected Darrell Issa’s signature to be on this it wasn’t. He’s your biggest thorn, he hates Holder.

    Patrick Leahy is one real POS

  • I thought it was pretty well guessed that the real reason for operation Failwalker was a stab to create pressure for gun control…

    Someone seriously needs to be in jail for this.  Someone or someones (*cough  HOLDER, OBAMA * cough)

    • I try very hard not to see malice where incompetence suffices, and incompetence definitely covers quite a bit of this operation regardless, but it’s difficult to construct a scenario where this is greenlighted and a significant part of the motivation isn’t to use this as further proof that stronger gun control is needed. Some bits of the narrative that were set to go into motion even abortively went off last week, IIRC, though I don’t want to dig it up; it was on Malkin’s site. It’s pretty hopeless, though, it’s all the media can do just to paper over this scandal, they aren’t going to be able to follow through on the gun control narrative as well.
      Ironically, now that the truth is out about the whole thing, it works in the opposite direction; apparently our gun crime is so low that the government had to manufacture reasons to make the law stricter; therefore what we have is clearly already strong enough.

  • The official reason for not notifying Mexico that the US had decided to violate its sovereignty

    >>> Meh, you’re not going to win me over with this one.  Mexico is a failed state that has as the core of their national policy an ongoing obliteration of OUR sovereignty, though nice people call it “undocumented immigration”


  • From the tape transcripts apparently Republican Senator Grassley, ranking minority on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has gone to sleep on F&F. Democratic Senator Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee is much feared, but he too has shut down any Judiciary Committee investigation of F&F.

    Meanwhile, Republican Issa, Chair of the House Government Over-Sight Committee, has been holding hearings on F&F but all he does is whine about how little the Justice Department is helping his investigation. According to the transcipt, it is the FBI involvement in F&F that is potentially most explosive if made public, which may help explian why the DOJ is stonewalling the House investigation.

    So, let’s add it up. Grassley and Leahy are fine with the corruption and people murdered, Issa is concerned but gutless, and Mrs. Clinton is in charge of…what is it that she does, anyway?   

    • Well, precedent indicates Obama is in charge of apologies.   I doubt Mexico will get one from him, because that would look like he was responsible, and we know he’s not responsible for anything bad, only good.    The Republicans must have shoved those guns across the border while sipping their lattes, and now they want to investigate it, well, they’ll just have to sit in the back on this (like he did the day they got Bin Laden).

  • The fact we put people at risk in general bothers me.
    Not really feeling too broken up about he ‘respecting sovereignty’ aspect.  They assist the illegal immigration to the US.  Not overall, but in terms of the specific aspect of ‘sovereignty’ it is a bigger offense.