As we’re finding out that the Operation Fast and Furious scandal reached higher than previously thought, we’re also finding out it was perhaps wider-ranging and more dangerous.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
Federal authorities are probing why the U.S. in 2010 let go an Arizona man accused of supplying grenades to a Mexican drug cartel, a case that played a role in the ouster last week of the nation’s top firearms regulator and the U.S. attorney in Phoenix.
According to Business Insider, the same U.S. attorney, Dennis Burke, who recently “resigned” was responsible for letting go Jean Baptiste Kingery, who had confessed to providing weapons to the La Familia Michoacana drug cartel (now defunct):
Kingery, who was arrested and released in June 2010, confessed to manufacturing improvised explosive devices (IEDs) using grenade components from the U.S. He also admitted to helping the cartel convert semi-automatic rifles into machine guns. Mexican criminal organizations are increasingly using these military-style weapons as the cartels escalate their wars against the government and one another.
Despite Kingery’s confession, and over loud protestations from the arresting ATF officers, the U.S. Attorney’s office let Kingery go within hours of his arrest.
Kingery’s release is now the subject of an internal probe by the DOJ inspector general. The findings in the DOJ probe were a major catalyst in the recent staff shakeup that ousted Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke and Acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson from their posts.
Rep. Darrell Issa, (R-CA), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, is unamused, saying on Fox News recently:
You don’t let guns walk. You don’t let explosives walk. That’s what’s wrong with Operation Fast and Furious. It’s what’s wrong in this whole grenade caper. You cannot allow these dangerous assets to fall into the wrong hands.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Eric Holder is claiming no one in the upper ranks of the Justice Department was aware of the program Issa has called “felony stupid.” According to ABC News, Holder is making the case that this was merely a “flawed enforcement operation”:
Citing an independent review by the Justice Department inspector general, Holder said, “We’ll certainly see, I think, at the end of that exactly who was involved, exactly who made the decisions in what was clearly, I think, a flawed enforcement effort. But the notion that somehow or other that this thing reaches into the upper levels of the Justice Department is something that at this point I don’t think is supported by the facts. And I think as we examine and as all the facts are in fact revealed, we’ll see that that is not the case.”
This assertion is refuted by emails which show Assistant Attorney General (Criminal Division) Lanny Breuer and Gary Grindler, Eric Holder’s chief of staff — among others — were aware of the program. It doesn’t get much higher up than the AAG tasked with criminal prosecutions and the AG’s chief of staff.
Issa correctly asserted to Fox News that Holder, who has repeatedly claimed he knew nothing about the operation, should have known:
While all this is going on, three of the Gunwalker cases have been removed from the Arizona U.S. Attorney’s Office to be prosecuted elsewhere, reports USA Today:
Federal prosecutors in Arizona have been stripped of three major criminal cases, including the murder last year of a Border Patrol agent, in the wake of ongoing investigations into the office’s role in a controversial weapons-trafficking operation that allowed hundreds of guns to fall into the hands of drug cartel associates in Mexico and criminals in the U.S.
The move comes less than a week after the flawed gun case, known as Operation Fast and Furious, triggered the reassignment of acting Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Director Kenneth Melson and the resignation of Dennis Burke, Arizona’s top federal prosecutor.
According to USA Today, federal prosecutors from San Diego will take over the murder prosecution of Manuel Osorio-Arellanes, a Mexican national, who has been charged with Terry’s murder. The San Diego prosecutors also will oversee the cases of several “straw purchasers” who allegedly bought and then passed weapons across the border. Additionally, Baptiste’s prosecution will be handled out of Los Angeles.
What we’re seeing here is evidence of either gross incompetence across the board, or an attempt to traffic weapons in order to promote a political agenda — i.e., gun control. Either outcome deserves an ending of Holder and his staff’s tenure at the Department.