Judicial Watch has released Justice Department documents showing that weapons sent from the U.S. into Mexico as part of the Obama administration’s Operation Fast and Furious gunrunning program have been widely used by major Mexican drug cartels. According to the new records, over the past three years, a total of 94 Fast and Furious firearms have been recovered in Mexico City and 12 Mexican states, with the majority being seized in Sonora, Chihuahua and Sinaloa. Of the weapons recovered, 82 were rifles and 12 were pistols identified as having been part of the Fast and Furious program. Reports suggest the Fast and Furious guns are tied to at least 69 killings.
Fast and Furious was a Department of Justice Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) “gunrunning” operation in which the Obama administration allowed guns to be sold to Mexican drug cartels in the hope the weapons would be recovered at crime scenes. Fast and Furious weapons have been implicated in the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and hundreds of other innocents in Mexico. Prior reports tie Fast and Furious weapons to at least 200 deaths in Mexico alone.
Judicial Watch obtained the documents last month in response to a March 17, 2016, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives seeking the following:
- 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 show 94 Fast and Furious firearms were seized, 20 were identified as being involved in “violent recoveries.” The “violent recoveries” involved several mass killings:
- June 30, 2014 — One 7.62mm rifle recovered in Tlatlaya, Estado de Mexico. This is the reported date and location of a shootout in which 22 people were killed.
- May 22, 2015 — Two 7.62mm rifles recovered from the site of a massive shootout in Rancho el Sol, Michoacán, that left one Mexican Federal Police officer and 42 suspected cartel members dead.
- August 7, 2015 — One 7.62mm rifle was among five firearms reported as recovered from an abandoned stolen vehicle in which three dead shooting victims were found in Parral, Chihuahua.
- January 29, 2013 — One 7.62mm rifle seized in Hostotipaquillo, Jalisco is reportedly related to the assassination of the town police chief, Luis Lucio Astorga and his bodyguard.
- January 11, 2016 — One .50 caliber rifle seized from the Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman’s hideout in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, where he was (re)arrested.
In October 2014, Judicial Watch uncovered the fact that an AK 47 rifle used in a July 29, 2013, gang-style assault on an apartment building that left two people wounded was part of the Obama Department of Justice’s Fast and Furious gunrunning program.
“These documents show President Obama’s legacy includes one of gunrunning and violence in Fast and Furious,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “As the production of documents from the ATF continues, we expect to see even further confirmation of Obama’s disgraced former Attorney General Eric Holder’s prediction that Fast and Furious guns will be used in crimes for years to come.”
In 2014, Judicial Watch litigation forced the disclosure of Fast and Furious documents to Congress after years of delay.
Judicial Watch has a related active lawsuit seeking access to all records of communications between the Department of Justice and the House Oversight Committee relating to settlement discussions in the Committee’s 2012 contempt of Congress lawsuit against then-Attorney General Eric Holder (Judicial Watch v. Department of Justice (No. 1:13-cv-1344)). The contempt citation stemmed from Holder’s refusal to provide documents to Congress related to the Fast and Furious gunrunning scandal.