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Operation Fast and Furious – Incompetence or Corruption?

Operation Fast and Furious is well known by name at least, if not by the details. After almost a decade long investigation into the fiasco, unsurprisingly no one has gone to prison and accountability has been diluted down enough to minimise damage to any single Government departments credibility.

Operation Outline

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives supplied weapons to legal gun dealers in the US in an attempt to then trace low-level buyers who would be allowed to cross back across the border to Mexico, unchecked, and supply Mexican Gun Cartels. I know what your thinking, what possibly could go wrong?

Fast and Furious was just one of the operations under Project Gunrunner which was initiated as part of the Department of Justice’s broader National Southwest Border Counternarcotics Strategy.

What Went Wrong?

Well, 2,000 firearms from the operation went missing, many of which began turning up at mass killing scenes in Mexico. The whole situation came to head in December of 2010 when U.S Border Patrol agent Brian A. Terry was killed in a gun battle, other innocent people were injured and killed in this battle – though few media outlets report on these. Many guns from the operation turned up at the scene of this killing spree.

Many of the 2,000 firearms that went missing in the operation have yet to be turned up and are still in circulation.

Believe it or not, a similar operation took place years before under the Bush administration. “Operation Wide Receiver” also failed in tracking down the supplied firearms.

The operation began to fall apart from the inside as U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke, who headed the Phoenix office, became angry with Special Agent John Dodson for reporting on the failed program before Congress.

Burke, was later forced to resign, leaked information about Dodson’s activities in the operation to Fox News.

Judicial Watch obtained documents in 2016 via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives seeking:

‘All records identifying the locations (including, but not limited to, crime scenes and the locations of seizures) at which firearms – that were identified during the course of or due to Operation Fast and Furious – have been recovered by law enforcement personnel.

The documents revealed that 94 Fast and Furious firearms were seized, 20 were identified as being involved in “violent recoveries.”  The “violent recoveries” involved several mass killings.

Corruption or Incompetence

The big question here is firstly, why did this operation even get off the ground, it had failed before in similar attempts and the consequences of failure are catastrophic, as was soon discovered. The second question is after deciding to go ahead with such an operation, why were very few attempts made to track these weapons?

When it comes to Mexican Drug Cartels, the US Government and Firearms there is certainly plenty of reasons to suspect corruption within this operation, the alternative is incompetence at a level which seems almost impossible to comprehend.

Further Reading:


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