ATF gunwalker scandal … did US Customs and Border Protection look the other way when the guns were headed south?Friday, March 25th, 2011
The ATF “gunwalker” scandal…where federal ATF agents allowed hundreds of guns to “walk” from US gun shops across the border into the hands of the Mexican drug cartel as part of some dubious investigation into gunrunning gets even more outrageous.
Two of the ATF “walked” guns ended up at the murder scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry near Rio Rico.
Now it is coming out that the US Customs and Border Protectionl actually stopped the “straw” buyer Jaime Avila with the guns he bought in Phoenix as he was headed south. Instead of seizing the weapons, they let Avila head south with the guns…two of which turned up later at Agent Terry’s murder scene.
Right after Terry’s murder the feds indicted Avila.
US Senator Charles Grassley is demanding more information about the “gunwalker” scandal:
For Immediate Release
March 24, 2011
>Grassley Presses for More Answers on Operation Fast and Furious, Allowing Guns to “Walk”
WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley continues to press the administration for answers about the policy that allowed guns to “walk” over the Mexican border. Grassley began questioning the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in January. His requests for information about the involvement of various agencies, including ATF, the Justice Department, the Department of Homeland Security, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection have been stonewalled by the administration.
Grassley is now asking Customs and Border Protection for information about reportedly stopping Blas Gutierrez and Miguel Carrillo near the Mexican border. The two were recently indicted as part of a gun trafficking operation involving the mayor of Columbus, New Mexico. Additionally, Grassley is asking about allegations that Customs and Border Protection stopped Jaime Avila, who was recently indicted as the straw purchaser of weapons found at the scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s murder. In both instances, Border Patrol agents allegedly found the gun runners to be in possession of multiple weapons, but let the suspects proceed for unknown reasons.
“No longer can this administration stand idly by and answer every question by saying that the Justice Department Inspector General is investigating. There is too much at stake. U.S. agents may have been killed because of a tragically ill-advised policy,” Grassley said. “The President said a serious mistake may have been made here, and that, if so, he would hold someone accountable. It is clearer every day that serious mistakes were made. Now it’s time for accountability.”
Grassley’s letter to Customs and Border Protection (March 16, 2011) made a specific request for officials knowledgeable about the agency’s involvement in Operation Fast and Furious be made available at a briefing that was already scheduled to take place with Grassley staff. Customs and Border Protection did not make officials available and there have been no attempts by the agency to schedule a subsequent briefing when officials would be available to answer the questions in Grassley’s letter. Click here to read Grassley’s latest inquiry to Customs and Border Protection.
Grassley’s letters to the administration about the policy of letting guns walk can be found on his website, Grassley.senate.gov.
WHO KNEW WHAT AND WHEN?
Of course with any scandal the key question is who knew what and when. CBS News has been hunting down the dogs responsible for the gunwaking scandal:
From CBS News:
by CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson
Since our first report in which ATF agents told us they allowed thousands of weapons to cross into Mexico, one crucial question has been: Who knew — how high up? This week for the first time, President Obama addressed the controversy. It was in an interview Tuesday evening with the Spanish language network Univision.
“Well first of all I did not authorize it. Eric Holder the Attorney General did not authorize it. He’s been very clear that our policy is to catch gun runners and put ‘em into jail,” Mr. Obama said of the controversial ATF operation called “Fast and Furious.”
What CBS News has turned up is that ATF agents in Mexico had no idea ATF officials in the US were walking guns into Mexico. When they found out they screamed bloody murder about the danger of the scheme.
President Obama denies he knew anything about the scheme.
A top ATF agent who was stationed in Mexico is blowing the whistle on the US ATF officials.
A stunning part of the story…according to the CBS story… the US ATF agent Darren Gil stationed in Mexico worried that “walked” guns were going to end up causing the death of Border Patrol agents.
From the CBS News story:
Faced with the flow of guns and the serial number evidence tracing to Phoenix, but locked out of the computer case files, Gil says he repeatedly questioned his supervisor in Washington. He says some of the conversations became screaming and shouting matches. He says he was instructed not to tell his Mexican counterparts about the case. Gil said he inquired, “when is this case gonna shut down? The Mexicans are gonna have a fit when they find out about it.” Gil says he also noted “at some point, these guns are gonna end up killing either a government of Mexico official, a police officer or military folks, and then what are we gonna do?”
Gil is the second ATF agent to tell CBS News that he specifically warned of such an outcome. Agent John Dodson says he told his superiors in Phoenix much the same.
“I specifically asked one time, ‘are you prepared to go to the funeral of a Border Patrol agent…are you prepared for that fact because it’s only a matter of time before that happens,” Dodson told CBS News.
That’s exactly what happened. Two of the weapons, AK-47 variant assault rifles, were eventually found at the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry last December. Officials are looking into possible connections to the murder of Customs Agent Jaime Zapata in February.
Just so everyone understands…the gunwalking scandal has nothing to do with US gun laws. Many of the gun shops wanted to refuse to sell the weapons to the “straw” buyers for the cartels, but ATF made them sell the guns so they could “track” them into Mexico.
What this is all about is a deliberate effort on the part of ATF to subvert existing laws and allow guns to flow into Mexico instead of stopping them.
More on the scandal and Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s murder: