Over the past three years, people in Mexico and particularly the border State of Tamaulipas have turned to social media to stay informed about organized crime and its effects on the community.
But a video surfaced on YouTube on Wednesday claiming a man dressed in black and kneeling is a contributor of the social media outlet Valor Por Tamaulipas.
After he recites a letter warning social media users to stop reporting about organized crime groups, the man appears to be shot in the head.
UTB Professor Guadalupe Correa-Cabrer told Action 4 News that some have questioned the authenticity of this video.
“The Mexican authorities need to do this investigation, we cannot allege and I cannot allege this is true or this is fake,” Correa-Cabrera said. “(It’s) How they are creating fear through YouTube and through social media. (They’re) presenting images and saying, ‘if you do this, I’m going to kill you,’ and this is not the first time to terrorize social media users.”
Correa-Cabrera believes Mexican authorities have shown weakness when investigating either cyber threats or threats against journalists that have actually been carried out, like the killing of Nuevo Laredo journalist Maria Elizabeth Macias.
“The message that was written in the place that her body was left in Nuevo Laredo, was, ‘because of what you’re reporting in the social media,’” Correa-Cabrera said.
She adds protecting social media users falls on the Mexican government, authorities and users themselves, and these threats should be taken seriously.
“If somebody is taking time to tape a video, it means that there is an agenda there,” Correa-Cabrera said. “You want to generate fear, you want these people that are reporting to stop reporting and we need to protect these people.”
Be cautious she said, but hopes people won’t be silenced.
“People have to know, people have to have their right to inform and to be informed and freedom of expression has to be protected,” Correa-Cabrera said. “Information is going to allow society to ask government to do their work.”
MCALLEN, TEXAS (AP) — The family of a U.S. Customs Enforcement agent killed in a 2011 ambush on a Mexican highway and another agent who survived are suing the government and others.
The federal lawsuit filed Tuesday in Brownsville arises from the Feb. 15, 2011, attack on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents Jaime Zapata and Victor Avila.
They were attacked in their armored SUV near San Luis Potosi, Mexico.
Zapata died, and Avila was seriously wounded.
The lawsuit names the agents’ supervisors among nearly two dozen others. It alleges that Zapata and Avila never should have been sent on the dangerous mission, their armored SUV was flawed and at least two of the guns used in the attack were bought in the United States.
DORNER MANHUNT; Liberal Media Suggests Drone Killing Dorner, Promotes EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLING Of ‘Suspect’ Deemed ‘DOMESTIC TERRORIST’
Christopher Dorner has been deemed a “Domestic Terrorist”, and many in the so called “Liberal” media are calling for him to be killed by drone strike, without a trial (ie, extrajudicial killing), and they add, “why not just kill him?”
CNN first made a statement floating the idea of using a drone to kill Dorner… then the fake Liberal “Young Turks” decided to discuss this in great detail and, after acting so concerned about such an idea, they basically seem to conclude that it sounds like a good idea!!
To drone or not to drone, that is not the question… the concern here is that they are deeming Christopher Dorner a “Domestic Terrorist” and therefore they can kill him… WITH NO DUE PROCESS!!!!!!!!!!!
Being deemed a “Domestic Terrorist” theoretically means Dorner no longer has any Constitutional Rights… this is a very DANGEROUS and horrible precedent.
Today the so called “Liberal” British newspaper “The Guardian” has proven my point in spades (and only a mindless British serf (subject) could come up with this kind of judicial logic). These people are dangerously stupid, or they’re being told to write this garbage. Here are some choice excerpts (emphasis mine):
Here’s my question: if the surveillance drones detect his location, should the lives of law
enforcement agents be risked, along with other civilians, in an attempt to apprehend
this highly-trained warrior? Why shouldn’t an armed drone instead be immediately
dispatched once his location is ascertained and simply kill him?
For those of you who believe it’s possible to know someone’s guilt without a trial, there
is very little doubt about his guilt. Nobody has contested the authenticity of the
confession posted in his name, nor the threats of further killing. He admitted and
justified the killings on his Facebook entry. [No one has ever hacked, jacked, or created a fake Facebook account!!!! - Joel]
For those of you who believe there is a clear definition of “terrorism”, Dorner meets it
easily. LAPD chief Charlie Beck today said that Dorner was engaging in “domestic
terrorism”. That’s because he has not only threatened to kill random LAPD officers but
also their children and family members in order to terrorize the department into
publicly apologizing to him. He vowed to wage what he called “unconventional and
asymmetrical warfare” in pursuit of his goal. As intended, the entire community is in
terror. If that’s not “domestic terrorism” under the conventional defintion (sic), then nothing is.
Instead, suppose the LAPD locates Dorner in a cabin in a remote area of the California
wilderness, just sitting alone watching television. Why should they possibly risk the lives
of police officers to apprehend him? Why would anyone care if this terrorist’s rights are
protected? What’s the argument for not simply killing him the moment he’s located?
Given that everyone seems certain of his guilt [Trial by media? - Joel], that he’s threatened further killings of innocents, that he declared himself at “war”, and that the risk from capturing him would be high, what danger is created by simply shooting a Hellfire missile wherever he’s
Or suppose that, as feared, he makes his way into Mexico. What’s the objection to
sending an armed drone to killing him there? [Um, because it's a different sovereign country???? - Joel]
The impetus for my asking is obviously the widespread support for killing US citizen
Anwar Awlaki without a trial or charges based on suspicions of guilt: it’s far from clear
that apprehending Awlaki would have been infeasible, and Dorner poses at least as
much risk to Americans as Awlaki did, almost certainly more so. But leave that aside:
independent of comparisons to any other case, including Awlaki, what would be wrong
or dangerous, if anything, about simply droning this domestic Terrorist to death even in
the absence of lethal resistance? What would be the harm from doing that? What are the
reasons not to, if any?
2013.2.11 Should An Armed Drone Be Dispatched To Kill Christopher Dorner? (guardian.co.uk):
2013.2.8 CNN; Should We Use Drones In America? (CNN, TheYoungTurks, youtube.com):
CNN’s Erin Burnett asked whether or not law enforcement should use drones as they try to fine former cop turned revenge killer, Christopher Dorner. Is this what it’s come to? Are drone attacks abroad so normalized that we can honestly ask if drones would be a good idea to use domestically? Cenk Uygur, Jimmy Dore (TYT Comedy) and Ben Mankiewicz (Turner Classic Movies) discuss Burnett’s question and its implications.
February 8, 2013
After the navy denied that cop killer Chris Dorner was inside the Point Loma Naval Station during the lockdown yesterday, today, officials finally admitted that he indeed was. San Diego’s Channel 10 news reported that “Mr. Dorner checked into the Navy Gateway Inn & Suites on February 5th, he was supposed to check out on the 6th. He did not physically check out,” said Cmdr. Brad Fagan, Navy Region SW public information officer.
Dorner might’ve used his Navy inactive reserve military ID or fake credentials to access base facilities. There was no record of Dorner checking out of the base hotel, and no one saw him leave. Yesterday, when the base went on lockdown, navy officials reported that someone saw a person matching Dorner’s description; however, they reported that they had no reason to believe he was on base.
That same night, a man called police to report that someone matching Dorner’s description tried to steal his yacht; however, he was not able to start the engine. The yacht club is right next to the Point Loma Navy Base. Apparently, Dorner had told the man that he needed the yacht to go to Mexico.
A few blocks from the yacht club, Dorner’s wallet was found near the San Diego airport, and some of his police gear was found in a dumpster near a police station in National City, which is close to the Mexican border.
Also, police in San Diego found a pickup truck that might be Dorner’s. It matched the description of the truck that was found burned near the Big Bear Ski Resort, but with Dorner’s old license plates.
If Dorner managed to get inside the Point Loma Navy Base, or his previous duty station at the Naval Amphibious Base in Coronado Island, he would have possibly have access to a small patrol boat that could be used to escape, or even access to weapons. Point Loma is the home base of some of the navy’s nuclear submarines. Coronado Island is the home base of naval amphibious units, patrol boats, and the Naval Special Warfare Command.
EDINBURG — He told Spanish-language broadcasters he was a cartel-connected killer of a Border Patrol agent.
He told authorities he was a former Mexican police officer whom organized crime tried to knock off south of the border — and who ultimately turned himself in to avoid hit men in Mexico with connections to the Hidalgo County sheriff.
Then on Thursday, Gustavo Lozano told a judge he’d been at fault.
“I am sorry for what I’ve done,” Lozano told Justice of the Peace Bobby Contreras in Spanish at his arraignment hearing at the Hidalgo County Jail.
Lozano was wanted by the Sheriff’s Office for making threats against Sheriff Lupe Treviño and a telephone dispatcher July 25.
On Wednesday morning, Lozano turned himself in to federal authorities at the Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge who rushed him to a local hospital to treat what the sheriff said is a self-inflicted cut to his neck — not the physical vestiges of a cartel attempt on his life, as Lozano told authorities. He has been under close supervision by authorities since.
He was formally charged by Contreras with two counts of making terroristic threats against a public official and his bond was set at $2 million. According to the criminal complaint filed against Lozano, he had identified himself as a former police officer named “Genaro Garza” and said he would kill Treviño and his family for opening an investigation against him. Authorities tracked the phone number used to Lozano and “further learned Lozano has a history of placing threatening phone calls to law enforcement,” the complaint states.
Police officers from Mission, TX were paid by the Gulf Drug Cartel to safeguard cocaine shipments from Reynosa, Mexico into Texas.
Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Trevino officially disbanded a joint drug task force with Mission Police Department Monday. This comes after two of its members were arrested on drug charges in December. The special drug task force may no longer be in operation but Mission Police assure the public they will continue to fight to keep drugs off the street.
The Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office-Mission Police Department’s street level drug unit, otherwise known as the Panama Unit was disbanded by Sheriff Lupe Trevino Monday morning. Created back in August 2010, the Panama Unit was supposed to be a way for the sheriff’s office to give extra resources to the Mission Police Department to get drugs off the streets in Mission and western Hidalgo County. “This has nothing to do with the relationship with the sheriff’s office,” Mission Police chief Martin Garza said. “We respect the decision made. We are going to continue working with the sheriff’s office in any type of other investigations and narcotic investigations as well.”
The unit was housed at the Mission Police Department and supervised by both the sheriff’s office and Mission Police. In December two of the unit’s members, including the sheriff’s son, Jonathan Trevino, were arrested by federal authorities on charges of possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Another two sheriff’s deputies are also facing charges. Prosecutors said the four accepted thousands of dollars in bribes to guard cocaine shipments.
Spokesman for Chihuahua state says US agencies don’t want to end drug trade, a claim denied by other Mexican officials.
Juarez, Mexico – The US Central Intelligence Agency and other international security forces “don’t fight drug traffickers”, a spokesman for the Chihuahua state government in northern Mexico has told Al Jazeera, instead “they try to manage the drug trade”.
Allegations about official complicity in the drug business are nothing new when they come from activists, professors, campaigners or even former officials. However, an official spokesman for the authorities in one of Mexico’s most violent states – one which directly borders Texas – going on the record with such accusations is unique.
“It’s like pest control companies, they only control,” Guillermo Terrazas Villanueva, the Chihuahua spokesman, told Al Jazeera last month at his office in Juarez. “If you finish off the pests, you are out of a job. If they finish the drug business, they finish their jobs.”
A spokesman for the CIA in Washington wouldn’t comment on the accusations directly, instead he referred Al Jazeera to an official website.
Accusations are ‘baloney’
Villanueva is not a high ranking official and his views do not represent Mexico’s foreign policy establishment. Other more senior officials in Chihuahua State, including the mayor of Juarez, dismissed the claims as “baloney”.
“I think the CIA and DEA [US Drug Enforcement Agency] are on the same side as us in fighting drug gangs,” Hector Murguia, the mayor of Juarez, told Al Jazeera during an interview inside his SUV. “We have excellent collaboration with the US.”
Under the Merida Initiative, the US Congress has approved more than $1.4bn in drug war aid for Mexico, providing attack helicopters, weapons and training for police and judges.
More than 55,000 people have died in drug related violence in Mexico since December 2006. Privately, residents and officials across Mexico’s political spectrum often blame the lethal cocktail of US drug consumption and the flow of high-powered weapons smuggled south of the border for causing much of the carnage.
Drug war ‘illusions’
Meeting the Juarez cartel
“The war on drugs is an illusion,” Hugo Almada Mireles, professor at the Autonomous University of Juarez and author of several books, told Al Jazeera. “It’s a reason to intervene in Latin America.”
“The CIA wants to control the population; they don’t want to stop arms trafficking to Mexico, look at [Operation] Fast and Furious,” he said, referencing a botched US exercise where automatic weapons were sold to criminals in the hope that security forces could trace where the guns ended up.
The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms lost track of 1,700 guns as part of the operation, including an AK-47 used in 2010 the murder of Brian Terry, a Customs and Border Protection Agent.
Blaming the gringos for Mexico’s problems has been a popular sport south of the Rio Grande ever since the Mexican-American war of the 1840s, when the US conquered most of present day California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico from its southern neighbour. But operations such as Fast and Furious show that reality can be stranger than fiction when it comes to the drug war and relations between the US and Mexico. If the case hadn’t been proven, the idea that US agents were actively putting weapons into the hands of Mexican gangsters would sound absurd to many.
“I think it’s easy to become cynical about American and other countries’ involvement in Latin America around drugs,” Kevin Sabet, a former senior adviser to the White House on drug control policy, told Al Jazeera. “Statements [accusing the CIA of managing the drug trade] should be backed up with evidence… I don’t put much stake in it.”
Villanueva’s accusations “might be a way to get some attention to his region, which is understandable but not productive or grounded in reality”, Sabet said. “We have sort of ‘been there done that’ with CIA conspiracy theories.”
In 1996, the San Jose Mercury News published Dark Alliance, a series of investigative reports linking CIA missions in Nicaragua with the explosion of crack cocaine consumption in America’s ghettos.
In order to fund Contra rebels fighting Nicaragua’s socialist government, the CIA partnered with Colombian cartels to move drugs into Los Angeles, sending profits back to Central America, the series alleged.
“There is no question in my mind that people affiliated with, or on the payroll of, the CIA were involved in drug trafficking,” US Senator John Kerry said at the time, in response to the series.
Other newspapers, including the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, slammed Dark Alliance, and the editor of the Mercury News eventually wrote that the paper had over-stated some elements in the story and made mistakes in the journalistic process, but that he stood by many of the key conclusions.
US government has neglected border corruption
“It’s true, they want to control it,” a mid-level official with the Secretariat Gobernacion in Juarez, Mexico’s equivalent to the US Department of Homeland Security, told Al Jazeera of the CIA and DEA’s policing of the drug trade. The officer, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said he knew the allegations to be correct, based on discussions he had with US officials working in Juarez.
Acceptance of these claims within some elements of Mexico’s government and security services shows the difficulty in pursuing effective international action against the drug trade.
Jesús Zambada Niebla, a leading trafficker from the Sinaloa cartel currently awaiting trial in Chicago, has said he was working for the US Drug Enforcement Agency during his days as a trafficker, and was promised immunity from prosecution.
“Under that agreement, the Sinaloa Cartel under the leadership of [Jesus Zambada's] father, Ismael Zambada and ‘Chapo’ Guzmán were given carte blanche to continue to smuggle tonnes of illicit drugs… into… the United States, and were protected by the United States government from arrest and prosecution in return for providing information against rival cartels,” Zambada’s lawyers wrote as part of his defence. “Indeed, the Unites States government agents aided the leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel.”
The Sinaloa cartel is Mexico’s oldest and most powerful trafficking organisation, and some analysts believe security forces in the US and Mexico favour the group over its rivals.
Joaquin “El Chapo”, the cartel’s billionaire leader and one of the world’s most wanted men, escaped from a Mexican prison in 2001 by sneaking into a laundry truck – likely with collaboration from guards – further stoking rumours that leading traffickers have complicit friends in high places.
“It would be easy for the Mexican army to capture El Chapo,” Mireles said. “But this is not the objective.” He thinks the authorities on both sides of the border are happy to have El Chapo on the loose, as his cartel is easier to manage and his drug money is recycled back into the broader economy. Other analysts consider this viewpoint a conspiracy theory and blame ineptitude and low level corruption for El Chapo’s escape, rather than a broader plan from government agencies.
After an election hit by reported irregularities, Enrique Pena Nieto from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) is set to be sworn in as Mexico’s president on December 1.
He wants to open a high-level dialogue with the US about the drug war, but has said legalisation of some drugs is not an option. Some hardliners in the US worry that Nieto will make a deal with some cartels, in order to reduce violence.
“I am hopeful that he will not return to the PRI party of the past which was corrupt and had a history of turning a blind eye to the drug cartels,” said Michael McCaul, a Republican Congressman from Texas.
Regardless of what position a new administration takes in order to calm the violence and restore order, it is likely many Mexicans – including government officials such as Chihuahua spokesman Guillermo Villanueva – will believe outside forces want the drug trade to continue.
The widespread view linking the CIA to the drug trade – whether or not the allegations are true – speaks volumes about officials’ mutual mistrust amid ongoing killings and the destruction of civic life in Mexico.
“We have good soldiers and policemen,” Villanueva said. “But you won’t resolve this problem with bullets. We need education and jobs.”
The Associated Press has confirmed what DeadlineLive.info has been reporting for two years: NORTHCOM and the U.S. Special Operations Command have officially announced the creation of a secret special ops ‘training base’ in Mexico.
According to information obtained by DeadlineLive.info, this so-called special operations training base is likely to be annexed to the ‘Ignacio Zaragoza Militarized Police Academy’ in Puebla. Another possible location may be in the mountainous region of El Capulin, near the town of Tres Marias, where two CIA Agents were ambushed by a drug cartel last year, possibly under orders of Hector Beltran Leyva -a disgruntled business partner of CIA cocaine smuggler Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman.
A few months ago, DeadlineLive.info obtained information from a Mexican Department of Exterior source, indicating that both U.S. and Mexican Special Forces were already conducting joint training exercises in Fort Bragg, and even at the at the Balad air base in Iraq. This report was not immediately confirmed. However, the AP has now verified that this information was true.
By KIMBERLY DOZIER, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon is stepping up aid for Mexico’s bloody drug war with a new U.S.-based special operations headquarters to teach Mexican security forces how to hunt drug cartels the same way special operations teams hunt al-Qaida, according to documents and interviews with multiple U.S. officials.
Such assistance could help newly elected Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto establish a military force to focus on drug criminal networks that have terrorized Mexico’s northern states and threatened the U.S. Southwest border. Mexican officials say warring drug gangs have killed at least 70,000 people between 2006 and 2012.
Based at the U.S. Northern Command in Colorado, Special Operations Command-North will build on a commando program that has brought Mexican military, intelligence and law enforcement officials to study U.S. counterterrorist operations, to show them how special operations troops built an interagency network to target al-Qaida mastermind Osama bin Laden and his followers.
The special operations team within Northcom will be turned into a new headquarters, led by a general instead of a colonel. It was established in a Dec. 31 memo signed by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. That move gives the group more autonomy and the number of people could eventually quintuple from 30 to 150, meaning the headquarters could expand its training missions with the Mexicans, even though no new money is being assigned to the mission.
The special operations program has already helped Mexican officials set up their own intelligence center in Mexico City to target criminal networks, patterned after similar centers in war zones built to target al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Iraq, two current U.S. officials said.
Mexican and U.S. military officials played down the change, and it’s unclear whether the Mexican government will agree to boost its training. ”We are merely placing a component commander in charge of things we are already doing,” said Northcom spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis in a written statement. Mexico’s Foreign Affairs Department emailed a statement saying it had been briefed on the changes and had no further comment
The creation of the new command marks another expansion of Adm. Bill McRaven’s special operations empire, as he seeks to migrate special operators from their decade of service in war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan to new missions, even as the rest of the military fights postwar contraction and multibillion-dollar budget cuts.
The new headquarters will also coordinate special operations troops when needed for domestic roles like rescuing survivors after a natural disaster, or helping the U.S. Coast Guard strike ships carrying suspect cargo just outside U.S. territorial waters, according to multiple current and former U.S. officials briefed on the mission. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the Pentagon has not formally announced the new headquarters.
The initial document petitioning Panetta for the command stresses the command’s role in military-to-military cooperation with Mexico. The document was signed in September 2012 by McRaven and Northcom commander Gen. Charles Jacoby. Northcom’s current special operations training missions are an outgrowth of the Merida Initiative that was formalized in 2008, to provide extensive military assistance to Mexico. The extra special-operations staff, including both troops and civilians, will help coordinate more missions as Mexico requests them, current and former officials said.
Pena Nieto is likely to welcome the continued training to help him build and coordinate the forces he needs to reduce drug violence, according to Rand Corp.’s Dr. Agnes Gereben Schaefer. “He has talked about setting up a paramilitary force…made up of former military and police forces, which he has described as more surgical,” than the current campaign by Mexican army and police, Schaefer said. He would dispatch the force into towns that have been overrun by drug violence, where police don’t have the numbers to fight it, she said.
Mexican military, intelligence and law enforcement chiefs have already toured the Joint Special Operations Command headquarters at Fort Bragg in North Carolina to see how U.S. officers coordinate efforts by special operations aircraft, naval vessels and air- and sea-based raiders, according to one current military official. A small group of top Mexican military and intelligence officials also visited the command’s targeting center at the Balad air base in Iraq before the U.S. troop withdrawal in 2011, a former U.S. official said.
U.S. officials stress that sharing this expertise does not mean U.S. special operations teams will be conducting raids against targets in Mexico, nor will they be entering the country with their own weapons. Mexico forbids U.S. military or law enforcement officers from carrying guns inside their borders, with few exceptions, though American commandos have conducted training missions in the past, two current and one former U.S. military official said. They were speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the sensitive missions.
A new investigation into the gun used to kill a Mexican beauty queen last month reveals that the murder weapon was a U.S. Government-issue pistol (only available to federal agents). The ATF agent that supplied this and other weapons to the Sinaloa Drug Cartel has also revealed that the gun-running operations may date back to the 1990′s. Also, not only did ATF agents just let ‘guns walk;’ some of the guns were actually illegally purchased by federal agents themselves (not just cartel operatives), using fake addresses.
by Kevin Diaz
WASHINGTON – A semi-automatic pistol found near the scene of a gun battle in Mexico where five people died, including a Mexican beauty queen, has been traced to a former federal gun agent in Minnesota who was part of the government’s controversial Fast and Furious border gun-tracking operation.
The Justice Department’s inspector general has confirmed that it is investigating allegations that an FN Herstal Five-seven handgun tracked from the area of a Nov. 23 shootout in Sinaloa was linked to George Gillett Jr., who oversaw Operation Fast and Furious from October 2009 to April 2010.
Gillett played a central role in a similar Twin Cities gun sting a decade ago that was shut down after several government-tracked guns were connected to violent gang crimes. He later worked in Arizona and has offered himself as a witness in the Republican-led congressional probe of Operation Fast and Furious, which led to a U.S. House contempt vote in June against U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
The new probe, confirmed in a Dec. 21 Justice Department letter obtained by the Star Tribune, focuses on alleged purchases of at least three firearms by Gillett while he was the assistant special agent in charge of the Phoenix field office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). He has since been reassigned to Washington.
While the ATF has been criticized for losing track of U.S.-sold guns trafficked in Mexico, Gillett’s case represents the first time that a weapon recovered south of the border has been tied to an official with the ATF. The powerful Five-seven was limited to military personnel and law enforcement until 2004. The ATF has said the weapon is a favorite of Mexican drug cartels, and those smuggled across the border can command top dollar in Mexico.
Gillett, a former street agent tracking so-called straw gun buyers in the Twin Cities, said Wednesday that on the advice of counsel, he could not comment.
More ties to Fast and Furious
The investigation comes amid heightened congressional scrutiny of arms trafficking and gun crimes in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Connecticut.
ATF records show that Gillett’s gun was one of at least two recovered in the vicinity of the fatal shootout between the Mexican military and drug cartel members in Sinaloa. The other was an AK-47 traced to Uriel Patino, a leading suspect in the Fast and Furious operation, which has been linked to the 2010 shooting death of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.
Congressional Republicans rallied around Terry’s death, which they blamed on lax ATF oversight within the Obama administration.
But some law enforcement officials point to gun laws that make it difficult for federal agents to interdict legally purchased weapons until they “walk” into the criminal underworld.
In Operation Fast and Furious, the ATF was faulted for mistakes in a “gun walking” operation tracking nearly 2,000 weapons that eventually disappeared or fell into the wrong hands along the Mexican border in 2009 and 2010. An earlier inspector general report found Gillett’s supervision “seriously deficient.”
The latest revelations involve Gillett’s own personal guns, allegedly purchased using inaccurate addresses. ATF records show that in two of the gun purchases, which include the pistol found in Sinaloa, Gillett listed the address of the Phoenix ATF office. On the third, he listed the address of a local shopping center.
U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, singled out Gillett in a Dec. 19 letter to the inspector general’s office, noting that it is a felony offense to falsify a federal gun transaction record known as Form 4473. Grassley, one of the leading congressional investigators in the Fast and Furious case, emphasized that many of the suspected gun runners arrested in the operation were charged with lying on the form.
“This information’s implications and its ability to undermine public confidence in the integrity of ATF operations cannot be overstated,” Grassley wrote to the inspector general. “Your office needs to work swiftly.”
‘I didn’t do anything criminal’
The pistol found in the Sinaloa gunfight was purchased at Legendary Arms, a Phoenix gun store, on Jan. 7, 2010, while Gillett was the No. 2 man of the local ATF office. The gun is listed in an ATF trace requested by Mexican authorities as being involved in an attempted homicide.
BISBEE, Ariz. — For the last 20 years, they have descended on the sun-bleached desert lands in southeastern Arizona near the Mexican border.
Longtime locals say they damage irrigation lines, tread on land without permission, alienate merchants and contribute to a sense of unease that didn’t use to exist.
But lately these complaints are aimed not so much at people arriving illegally from Mexico as they are at the federal forces sent to stop them.
Residents say the deployment of hundreds of agents — armed, uniformed and omnipresent — and millions of dollars in new infrastructure have created a military-like occupation in their once-sleepy hamlets.
They point to sprawling new facilities that dominate the scrubby landscape, such as the upgraded U.S. Border Patrol station in Naco and a fortified border fence that lights up like an airport runway lost among the yuccas. Some grumble that the federal agents are paid well above the county average while spurning the areas they patrol to live in a suburbanized town nearly 25 miles away.