Another ATF Fast and Furious?

FoxNews
July 15, 2011

Several lawmakers are questioning the Obama administration about whether the controversial “Fast and Furious” gunrunning probe may have had a cousin in Florida that resulted in guns being trafficked to Central America.

Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., penned a letter Tuesday to Attorney General Eric Holder and ATF Acting Director Kenneth Melson inquiring about a program known as “Operation Castaway.” Other top lawmakers are also starting to look into it, though ATF claims the program was above board and not similar to Operation Fast and Furious at all.

The Justice Department says Castaway was an anti-gun trafficking operation handled by an ATF division in Florida. It resulted last year in a slew of convictions for defendants the department claimed provided firearms linked to violent crimes around the world. But in light of questions surrounding the Fast and Furious probe out of ATF’s Phoenix division, Bilirakis questioned whether Castaway bore the same suspicious hallmarks.

Fast and Furious came under fire for allegedly allowing guns to “walk” across the Mexico border in an attempt to track their migration into cartel hands. Weapons tied to the program were found at the scene of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry’s murder last year.

Bilirakis expressed concern about reports that the strategy “may not have been limited to weapons trafficking to Mexico.”

He asked Holder and Melson whether “similar programs included the possible trafficking of arms to dangerous criminal gangs in Honduras with the knowledge of the ATF’s Tampa Field Division” and a Justice Department office, via Castaway.

Bilirakis’ letter specifically asked whether the Tampa division participated in a “gun walking” scheme allowing guns to go to Honduras. He also asked whether ATF or DOJ know if any of the firearms ended up in the hands of the “notorious” MS-13 gang — a violent gang spread across Central America, Mexico and the United States.

Court documents from the Operation Castaway takedown claim that at least five firearms from the illegal sales of the main suspect ended up later being connected to crimes, several in Puerto Rico. One pistol was recovered in Colombia after being used in a homicide.

But an ATF official told FoxNews.com that the investigation, which targeted Florida gun dealer Hugh Crumpler III, did not appear to be designed like Fast and Furious. Though Justice and ATF have not yet formally responded to Bilirakis, the official explained that ATF got involved in the Crumpler case after the fact, and was not using the investigation to track firearms sales across international lines.

“We became involved with Crumpler at the first opportunity of realizing that criminal activity was afoot,” the official said. “Once we were able to put our case together, establish probable cause … then at that point, we did so at the soonest opportunity to stop the illegal activity.”

The official noted that the case is “complete,” though two fugitives are still at large.

The 2010 plea agreement suggests ATF agents monitored him for just a few months before taking him in — it does not describe any long-term effort to track firearms outside U.S. borders.

The lengthy court document states that the ATF noticed Crumpler’s numerous purchases in a national firearms database — it turned out he was later selling them at gun shows. According to the plea agreement, the ATF had an undercover agent buy from Crumpler and later observed the suspect at several gun shows in late 2009, selling to numerous buyers without a license. At one point, he told an undercover agent that he knew the firearms were making their way to Honduras.

By early 2010, ATF agents were seizing guns sold by Crumpler and within weeks confronted him, putting a stop to the operation.

Despite ATF’s claims, the issue is starting to pop up on the radar screen of other lawmakers, including those leading the charge to find out more about Fast and Furious — Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.

“Senator Grassley is looking into the allegations and trying to get some firsthand information from people involved,” Grassley spokeswoman Beth Levine told FoxNews.com.

Bilirakis apparently was alerted to Castaway by news reports, as well as calls received by his office.

An article on Examiner.com initially claimed the Tampa division was “walking guns” to Honduras in a way similar to Fast and Furious.

Bilirakis spokesman Creighton Welch said his boss saw the report, but also received “several calls from folks who I guess you could say were familiar with the situation in Tampa.”

He declined to go into further detail about where the tips were coming from.

“We’re placing a lot of firearms in potentially the wrong hands,” Welch said. “There are a lot of unanswered questions for a potentially very dangerous situation.”

Bilirakis was joined by Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, and Rep. Candice Miller, R-Mich., in writing a separate letter seeking similar answers from Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton.

“We find it extremely troubling that the United States government would willfully allow weapons to be acquired by dangerous criminal and drug trafficking organizations, in direct contravention of our strategic and national interests,” they wrote.

However, Crumpler’s attorney told The Tampa Tribune that ATF agents “closely monitored” his client’s activity, and he didn’t think the guns made their way to Latin American criminals during the course of the probe.

U.S. Justice Department Gun Sting Backfires. It is then covered-up

by Guy Adams
The Independent
June 17, 2011

America’s firearms watchdog allowed weapons to flow in, failed to catch ringleaders, then tried a cover-up.

The lethal fallout from a botched operation by the US Department of Justice which allowed almost 2,000 illegally purchased firearms to be transported from the streets of Arizona to drug gangs in Mexico has been laid bare in a scathing Congressional report, which concludes that it resulted in countless deaths.

A mixture of arrogance, over-confidence, and staggering ineptitude by the Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives [ATF] was outlined in a 51-page investigation by two Republican members of a House panel charged with getting to the bottom of what went wrong during a two-year operation called “Fast and Furious”.

It tells how, between 2009 and this year, the ATF instructed agents to turn a blind eye to hundreds of AK-47 assault rifles, sniper rifles, and revolvers purchased from gunshops in Phoenix and en route to Mexico. They hoped to eventually recover them from crime scenes and build a complex conspiracy case that might take down the leaders of a major drug cartel.

In the event, the operation resulted in the arrest of a handful of small-time crooks. But it exacerbated an already-huge spike in violence on both sides of the border. Two of the guns allowed to “walk” into the hands of criminals were used in a shoot-out that killed a US border patrol agent, Brian Terry.

The report describes his death as “a preventable tragedy”, detailing how many of the ATF agents involved in Fast and Furious began to object to what they saw as the “reckless” nature of the operation, which conflicted with all known protocol and may turn out to have been illegal. But when they raised their concerns, they faced “punishment and retaliation” from their superiors.

It also highlights the symbiotic nature of the deadly drug trade between the US and Mexico, which has resulted in approximately 38,000 deaths since 2007. Cartels make their money smuggling cocaine and cannabis north from Mexico, and simultaneously equip their private armies with assault weapons purchased thanks to America’s notoriously relaxed gun laws.

Fast and Furious revolved around so-called “straw” purchases of firearms, in which a buyer purchase military-grade hardware from a gun-store with the intention of illegally passing it to a criminal third party. ATF agents who track suspected straw purchases typically run intensive surveillance operations allowing them to arrest suspects and recover the guns. During the Fast and Furious operation they were instructed to simply let the weapons disappear.

A record was kept of their serial numbers. The idea was that this would later allow agents to link individual weapons to particular crime scenes. Somehow, this was supposed to help the ATF build up a nuanced picture of the complex structure of a major drug cartel, which would in turn lead to high-level arrests. But it wasn’t to be.

“Both line agents and gun dealers who co-operated with the ATF repeatedly expressed concerns”, about the operation, the report says. “But ATF supervisors did not heed those warnings. Instead, they told agents to follow orders because this was sanctioned from above.”

In total, agents watched at least 1,730 guns flood on to the black market, knowing they would be used to commit murders and other violent crimes. Their concerns about the policy were ignored. In one email to field staff printed in the report, ATF supervisor David Voth suggested that staff who objected to his orders would be fired.

“I will be damned if this case is going to suffer due to petty arguing, rumours, or other adolescent behavior,” he wrote. “We are all adults, we are all professionals, and we have an exciting opportunity to use the biggest tool in our law-enforcement tool box. If you don’t think this is fun, you are in the wrong line of work, period!”

John Dodson, a special agent from Phoenix who eventually blew the whistle on the “flawed” operation, told congressmen his superiors would be “giddy” with delight when “their” guns were found at a crime scene in Mexico, because they believed it “validated” their tactic. With regard to potential loss of life, an ATF boss told him: “if you are going to make an omelette, you need to scramble some eggs.”

On 14 December, disaster struck when the US border patrol guard, Brian Terry, was killed during a shootout with suspected illegal aliens on the Arizona border. His killers dropped their rifles to flee faster. Two of the weapons were AK-47s which had been intentionally allowed to walk during Fast and Furious.

Rather than admit to any mistake, the ATF embarked on a cover-up. William Newell, the special agent in charge of the operation, ordered the arrest of 20 of the people agents had been watching buy weapons for months. Then, although not one senior cartel member was arrested, he held a press conference declaring the operation a success.

Newell was then asked if any weapons had been deliberately allowed to end up in the hands of criminals. He replied, “Hell no!” The report describes that statement as untrue and “shocking.” It alleges that the Department of Justice continued to attempt a cover-up for several months.

The fallout from the report’s publication remains to be seen. It was written by two Republican congressmen, Darryl Issa and Charles Grassley. Some right-wing commentators have suggested that Fast and Furious was sanctioned by the Obama administration in an effort to justify tightening US gun laws. But the White House has said it had no direct knowledge of the operation.

Costa Ricans Massively against U.S. Military Invasion

By Luis R. Miranda
The Real Agenda
August 16, 2010

In the latest survey released by a Costa Rican polling firm, it is confirmed that most of Costa Rica does not welcome on arrival and permanence of U.S. troops in their country. In recent weeks, the Congress of Costa Rica agreed to allow the arrival of military ships, planes and thousands of American marines to ‘aid’ in the war against narcotics trafficking in the Americas, which is largely driven by the U.S. and Colombia.

In the survey, whose partial results were published in a local newspaper, Costa Ricans expressed unfavorable views of the U.S. occupation. Of all respondents, 32 percent believe that the occupation is detrimental. The newspaper did not explain why, or if polled respondents were questioned as to why their opinion was such. Meanwhile, another 38 percent of respondents expressed concern that the arrival and permanence of Americans violates Costa Rican sovereignty.

Overall, 70 percent of ‘Ticos’ demonstrated their dissatisfaction with the arrival and permanence of foreign troops until December 2010. But it is the 38 percent number that sounds the bell, more than any other number. The reason is that more than one third of Costa Ricans are aware that the U.S. invasion is a violation of their sovereignty, a position that until a few weeks ago was unknown. Thus, the 57 per cent who welcomes the country’s militarization pales in comparison to the 70 percent who disapproves -32 percent who see as harmful the arrival of the Americans and the 38 percent who disapprove due to the violation of sovereignty.

Although the majority of Costa Ricans disapprove the arrival of the Americans, for the reasons mentioned above, 57 percent approval makes it clear that there is considerable support. The reason for the support, although not explained in the publication, can be easily be connected to the insecurity that the ‘Ticos’ experience daily in their neighborhoods and cities. The insecurity has been allowed to grow freely for several decades by many governments that believed the fallacy that Costa Rica was the Switzerland of Central America and that nothing would change that. Years later, the underworld, the drug lords, both locals and from abroad, gained control of the streets in the country. Drug cartels now control large areas in southern, northern and the Caribbean regions. The failure of a bureaucracy that purposely let crime grow out of control, now presents the militarization as a solution with the arrival of 7,000 troops, warships and military aircraft and helicopters, which is seen as an exageration and a threat to the sovereignty of Costa Rica. But this is not new. It is the well known modus operandi and Hegelian practice of problem, reaction, solution.

In fact, the cooperation agreement between Costa Rica and the United States did not improve at all the drug trafficking situation in the country. During the execution of this agreement, more and more drugs continue moving through Costa Rican land and waters to their northern destinations of Mexico and the United States. In South America, the treaty known as Plan Colombia did not resul in anything positive, either. Millions of dollars of U.S. taxpayers are ‘invested’ in a war regarded as a failure because it has failed to accomplish its only goal: ending the drug trade in South, Central and North America, where the largest consumer market of cocaine, crack, heroin and other drugs -made in clandestine laboratories with mixtures of pharmaceutical ingredients- is located.

In response to growing drug trafficking, the U.S. pursued a policy of ‘cooperation’ that includes the invasion of sovereign territories to supposedly stop the flow of drugs across the continent, but neither the navy nor the army, -under the guidance of the Southern Command (SOUTHCOM )- scattered across the continent have achieved that goal. People have to wonder why.

The results so far provided by the pollster UNIMER, not only reveal the overwhelming opposition of the people in Costa Rica to the occupation, but also the fatigue of the ‘Ticos’ to the ‘business as usual’ policy of their government. Although the new president arrived with great fanfare, as they all arrive, she was not able to recognize the lack of leadership from the previous governments and project a clear plan on what to do about insecurity in the country. Mrs. Chinchilla preferred to extend the policy of accepting gifts and even sacrifice the sovereignty of Costa Rica to participate in a drug war that has proved a complete failure due to the fact it is driven by corruption and not by a desire to end the drug trafficking scheme.

Another conclusion that emerges from the survey is that 57 percent of ‘Ticos’ who support military intervention ignore the failure of the current war on drugs, which is largely responsible for the bankruptcy of the United States. The policy of occupation emptied the coffers of the government, which in itself did not even have any money. Similarly, history shows that countries who sacrifice freedom and sovereignty in exchange for ‘security’, end up losing both. What this 57 percent should demand is a clear policy against crime, not the acceptance of royalties. Although the democratic system is a hedious one, as it subjects large amounts of citizens to the wishes of others, hopefully in the case of Costa Rica the voice of the majority, -which this time seems to be wiser than before- will be heard louder than ever, to wake up the minority from their sleep in the arms of ignorance.

Related Articles:

Costa Rica Occupied by U.S. Military *UPDATE*

Costa Rica Occupied: Congress Surrenders Sovereignty to U.S. Army

HSBC, Wachovia, Bank of America Launder Mexican Drug Money

Mossad in South America

Mexican President: Disarm Everyone. Obama Nods Yes

Infowars.com

Mexican President Felipe Calderón called upon the United States Congress to re-enact the assault weapons ban in a bid to disarm the American people as they are integrated into theNorth American Union system. Further, he placed blame for fueling drug cartels and gang violence squarely on the United States and their supply of firearms.

Calderón made these outrageous and anti-American remarks from the floor of the U.S. Congress during an official visit, and also renewed attacks on the immigration legislation passed by Arizona.

President Obama joined in his cause, making the startling declaration that “We are not defined by our borders” during a press conference welcoming Calderón on the White House lawn. Such a statement with immigration AND “weapons” problems on the border? Whatever happened to the Robert Frost adage ‘Good fences make good neighbors‘?

Calderón told the United States that it must “regulate the sale of these weapons in the right way.” He continued:

“Many of these guns are not going to honest American hands. Instead, thousands are ending up in the hands of criminals.”

Calderón’s Call to Disarmament is particularly inappropriate before Congress, who are Constitutionally barred from making any law which would violate any part of the Bill of Rights– secured to the people and several states in balance against the power given to the Federal Government. Further, Calderón’s plan holds the same fallacy as other attempts at gun control. If carried out, banning “assault” weapons would empower– rather than restrict– narcotrafficking gangs and leave “good” people helpless. It would not, as he naively intends, curb cartel violence or dry out the tools of their intimidation.

Yet his proposals have long been advanced and supported by the likes of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, among others. President Obama voiced general support for a renewed ban last year, but acknowledged that it would be difficult to achieve politically. Moreover, Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder has also expressed support for re-enacting a gun ban, but has shied away from it while the White House has kept it quiet purposely to avoid political damage to other parts of President Obama’s already wildly-radical agenda. Last year, Newsweek scolded Eric Holder for “backing away” from the ban issue and failing to support an issue ‘important to Mexican officials.’

A MESSAGE FOR ARIZONA

President Calderón also used the opportunity to amplify his criticism of Arizona’s immigration laws, a position which is hypocritical on several points. First, why would he have a voice among Mexican people who fled at all costs from the failing and violent narco-state which he heads? Furthermore, how can the Mexican President decry the efforts of Arizona to control its borders and maintain stability, when Mexico has considerably more severe laws against illegal immigration than that recently introduced by the under-pressure border state.

Though Calderón issued a tongue-in-cheek travel advisory to ‘visiting’ Mexican citizens warning them to be wary of the strict new attitude in Arizona, it is his own country which has grown wild with corruption, violence, drug cartels, authoritarian police and the unsustainable blow of mass exodus which has turned Mexico into a vacuum and failed state. While the United States has attempted to progress on issues of discrimination, Mexico continues to openly oppress its minority groups and stifle attempts at resistance. Despite this distinction, many sanctuary cities across the United States have joined with Calderón and proposed bans on Arizona of their own.

‘SOUTHBOUND FLOW OF ILLEGAL WEAPONS’ ISSUE RAISED TO PROMOTE NORTH AMERICAN INTEGRATION

Most of all, the two heads of state, Calderón and Obama, have demonstrated a reckless and uncaring attitude towards curbing illegal immigration– which threatens to wreck both countries. Yet they have pushed hard for amnesty and other provisions to legalize workers and prevented any attempts to impede the open flow of goods and people across the border.

They have both worked furiously to fast-track North American regional integration. They met in Guadalajara in August 2009alongside Canadian PM Stephen Harper to continue– largely in secret — the agenda announced under the Bush-era Security and Prosperity Partnership for North America agreement (talks included the hot-button issue of “illegal southbound flow of American guns and cash that helps fuel this extraordinary violence”).

President Obama– for someone who claimed ignorance about the North American Union during his 2008 campaign [video]– certainly has gone a long way in supporting the total destruction of United States sovereignty, all while embracing cheap globalist clichés, obliterating the economy and opening-up the floodgates to labor replacement from Mexico and other Latin American countries.

Politicians– through NAFTA, WTO, CAFTA and SPP agreements, among others– are ushering in a corporatist-controlled North American Union, alongside a longer-term global merger. Robert Pastor and other key architects from the Council on Foreign Relations clearly designed the North American Union to circumvent the confines of the U.S. Constitution, and such a system is unlikely (once in power) to allow or accept the resistance of an armed population.

More…