If you have been following the news reports concerning ATF’s Operation “Fast and Furious,” you are acutely aware that CBP agent Brian Terry was killed in the line of duty and some of the weapons found at the scene have been traced back to what is now known as “Operation Fast and Furious,” which has led to ATF acting director Kenneth Melson resigning in the very near future.
For various political reasons, including conspiracy theories, there has been and continues to be a feeding frenzy by reporters and commentators on both the left and the right. Reporters, journalists and commentators are quick to lay blame and espouse all types of theories, everything from the UN is trying to gain control of our gun laws; that the president personally knew of this operation; to several ATF agents were running amok, and just about everything in between. Everyone needs to take a step back, take a deep breath and look at the facts.
From what I’ve read and heard, and what no one is saying, is that this sounds like a normal investigative technique referred to as an International Controlled Delivery. Controlled deliveries are done quite often with drugs, money, merchandise, etc., to further an investigation, inside our country, in foreign locations and even across international borders with the cooperation from authorities in both countries.
Controlled deliveries have strict guidelines and controls built-in to reduce the risks to the lowest possible level. It is impossible to remove all risks, in any situation, but good investigators, supported by good leaders and administrators inside their respective agency field offices and headquarters can successfully complete the objectives of the investigation to identify, remove and convict the Command and Control Centers of international criminal cartels (for example US Customs Investigations Operation C-Chase). However, in this instance something went “wrong” and the “control of the weapons” was lost somewhere, either outside of the US or inside the US.
An international operation like this needs personnel, materials, equipment, money and multiple approvals. All of this is to be coordinated by several agencies on both sides of the border with a “need-to-know.” I don’t know off-hand which specific Mexican government agencies would be involved in an operation of this type, but more than one would be intimately involved for control, tracking and evidentiary purposes.
In the United States, this operation would have started with the local ATF and the local U.S. Attorney offices. From there as the investigation and strategies developed, various agency headquarters would become involved to supply needed logistics and obtain approvals to violate our export laws. So beyond the ATF and U.S. Attorney Headquarters approvals, support and exemptions would be needed by Main Justice (DOJ), ICE, CBP and the State Department for the smuggling and ITAR violations that would be committed by moving the guns clandestinely across the border. Without these approvals, the agents would be committing serious U.S. federal felonies and numerous violations of Mexican laws. No agent in his (or her) right mind would commit these crimes to further an investigation, regardless of the violators targeted.
This entire operation needs to be investigated by a trusted independent investigative team to obtain the facts, analyze the facts and provide truthful conclusions to the decision-makers to take the appropriate action or actions in this case.
Everyone must remember that the real tragedy is that CBP agent Brian Terry has been killed in the line of duty, as well as the fact that the murder rate in Mexico is increasing at an astronomical rate. The escalation of this cross-border violence requires some serious resources. However, before jumping to any conclusions about this particular operation, we should await the facts from a dispassionate investigation as to what exactly occurred. Until then everything else is hyperbole and politics.