Fast and Furious, Part Two

Barrett 50 Cal - this is a serious weapon

Today, like to continue my commentary on Fast and Furious, the gun walking operation by the ATF. In 2006, the ATF started their first in a series of gun walking operations. This operation was called “Operation Wide Receiver.” The idea that this operation was totally different from Fast and Furious is simply wrong.

From WaPo:

But it turns out there was another gun operation run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives years before, using the same tactics of allowing guns to flow illegally onto U.S. streets and into Mexico. This operation was conducted under the Bush administration’s Justice Department.

Dubbed “Operation Wide Receiver,” the case was run out of Tucson between 2006 and 2007 and involved hundreds of guns that were purchased by small-time buyers who transferred them to middle men who then passed them up the chain and into Mexico.

ATF’s new acting director, B. Todd Jones, when asked by The Washington Post, said that Operation Wide Receiver was launched out of ATF’s Phoenix division — the same field office that oversaw Fast and Furious. ATF has said that Fast and Furious was an attempt to track more than 2,000 firearms and link them to Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel.

From the Minority Report of the House Oversight Committee:

The evidence also indicates that, between March 2006 and mid-2007, ATF agents had contemporaneous knowledge of planned sales of firearms to known straw purchasers and repeatedly designed surveillance operations of these illegal firearms purchases without effectuating arrests. According to documents obtained by the Committee, agents avoided interdicting weapons despite having the legal authority to do so in order to build a bigger case. Despite repeated failed attempts to coordinate surveillance with Mexican law enforcement, the ATF agents continued to attempt these operations.

Although the operational phase of the investigation ended in 2007, the case was not prosecuted for more than two years, during which time no arrests were made and the known straw purchasers remained at large. A prosecutor from the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice who was assigned to Operation Wide
Receiver in 2009 and reviewed the case file raised concerns that many guns had “walked” to Mexico.

So can we agree that both operations left more than a little to be desired? The problem is the flow of guns from the US into Mexico. Can we all agree on that?

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Errington C. Thompson, MD

Dr. Thompson is a surgeon, scholar, full-time sports fan and part-time political activist. He is active in a number of community projects and initiatives. Through medicine, he strives to improve the physical health of all he treats.


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