Once upon a time I made a lot of money doing nothing more than graphic timelines of events and people all engaged in a single endeavor, just to see who did what, and in what order, and asking why. It’s a terrific analytical tool.
From the moment Fast and Furious went public in Dec 2010, after the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, the story became so political, with so much dancing and sidestepping by administration officials inside ATF and the Department of Justice, no wonder a whole category of crimes involved have been overlooked.
In fact, all the serious ones.
As I have often argued, facts don’t lie, and the politics often resolves itself if you simply lay out in simple terms the crimes, who planned them, who carried them out, and who, for whatever reason, collegial loyalty or mutual dirty fingerprints, tried to cover them up.
We all know something of Fast and Furious. It was an ATF plan to allow guns purchased from gun stores along Mexican border states to “walk” into Mexico, where they could lead American and Mexican federal officials to drug cartels buying the guns. (Only I’m not sure if Mexico was dialed into this plan.)
These purchases occurred in 2009-2010, approx 2000 guns (semi-automatic assault-looking rifles and pistols), approx $1M, or average, $500 per weapon. Not a $32 Saturday night special in the lot. The ATF lost track of 1400 of them, over 70%, costing them their ISO-9000 certification.
We know that a couple of ATF agents in Phoenix began to complain about the operation because they were not allowed to make arrests as per standard ATF procedures, before the guns got into the hands of criminal end-users. (The actual details as to how guns were to be traced, and arrests made, once they got into criminal hands, is a mystery to me since, with 70% untraceable, it must have been pretty shoddy. But I’m getting ahead of myself.)
But intentional, accidental, or incompetence, in the end it shouldn’t matter.
In Dec, 2010, Agent, Brian Terry, was likely shot and killed by one of two of these 1000 weapons along a smuggling trail in southern Arizona. (I used to try cases near there, in Bisbee.) Strangely, the killers left the two F&F guns laying on the ground at the crime scene, then fled. One man is being held for the shooting, but there is no conclusive proof either of the F&F guns fired the fatal round (according to the FBI, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Department of Justice.).
Again, it shouldn’t matter.
When this killing occurred, news of the Fast and Furious plan quickly went public. They couldn’t keep a lid on it. Within 30 days the Federal District Attorney for Arizona, Dennis Burke, ended the Fast and Furious operation by filing a sealed multi-count indictment against the people who were used as straw buyers in the Phoenix area on behalf of drug cartel members, way back at the front end of the operation. There were 20 named people, and I link to that indictment for informational purposes. Read it for all it doesn’t mention, and crimes it doesn’t list. All but one were charged with the principal charges of 1) Conspiracy and 2) Dealing in Firearms without a License, citing 90 separate incidences in 2009 and 2010.
The first named buyer, Avila, though not the biggest buyer, was the man who bought the two rifles found at the scene of Agent Terry’s death. This past April, he and two of the other named defendants pleaded guilty to the two main charges. and face up to 10 years in prison, I assume based on a plea deal that will become evident at sentencing, and possibly later at trial of the remaining defendants in September.
During Avila’s allocution, no mention was allowed to be made of Agent Terry’s death, or of Fast & Furious, or the two guns. Follow the linked Fronteras leads to other stories, which shows that Agent Terry’s family had sought to be listed as victims in the Avila 20 case, that petition denied by a Tucson Federal judge in Jan 2012, then accepted an informal deal with the new federal prosecutor to withdraw in Feb 2012. Their reasoning: “The request would have opened the possibility of turning the smuggling case into one against the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms.”
If you throw the Department of Justice into the mix, that is precisely the point. They should be.
I’ll tell you why.