Human Events Blog

Fast and Furious: Primary Target Arrested and Released in 2010

Operation Fast and Furious, the Obama Administration’s deadly gun-running outrage that put American weapons in the hands of Mexican cartel killers – while putting hundreds of Mexicans, plus at least two American law enforcement officers, in the ground – was ostensibly supposed to catch some big-time drug lords by pumping U.S. guns into their organizations, then following the trail of bullets to the big fish, who would then be nailed on firearms charges. 

It never made a lot of sense, particularly given that no real effort was made to actually track the guns – they’ve been recovered from corpse-littered crime scenes, with hundreds of guns still unaccounted for.  And even this flimsy rationale disintegrates in the light of a shocking L.A. Times report on Monday, which reveals that the primary target of the Fast and Furious Operation was arrested – and released – shortly after it began:

Seven months after federal agents began the ill-fated Fast and Furious gun-tracking operation, they stumbled upon their main suspect in a remote Arizona outpost on the Mexican border, driving an old BMW with 74 rounds of ammunition and nine cellphones hidden inside.

Detained for questioning that day in May 2010, Manuel Fabian Celis-Acosta described to agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosiveshis close association with a top Mexican drug cartel member, according to documents obtained this weekend by the Times/Tribune Washington Bureau.

(Emphasis mine.)  He was keeping his bullets in a spare tire, like most people do.  He also had a ledger in his trunk, listing guns and money paid to someone named “Killer.”  He told the ATF agents the ammo wasn’t his, and the BMW was purchased by a friend’s mother, using a credit card.  When top Fast and Furious agent Hope MacAllister arrived on the scene, he told her he was en route to a birthday party for Claudio Jamie “Chendi” Badilla, the right-hand man of the Sinaloa drug cartel, and a “large-scale marijuana and multi-kilogram cocaine trafficker.”

Well, surely the ATF invested some serious effort in tracking the man “internal ATF documents that have not been publicly released” identify as the primary target of the entire operation – the name sitting atop an ATF flowchart including “more than two dozen individuals involved in the gun-smuggling ring?”

Guess again.  When Celis-Acosta said he’d be willing to cooperate with the ATF, Special Agent McAllister scribbled her phone number on a ten-dollar bill, told him to keep in touch, and let him go.  He vanished into Mexico and never called her.  The Times summarizes the ensuing damage:

Had they arrested him red-handed trying to smuggle ammunition into Mexico, Fast and Furious might have ended quickly. Instead, the program dragged on for another eight months, spiraling out of control.

Celis-Acosta continued slipping back and forth across the border, authorities say, illegally purchasing more U.S. weapons and financing others. He was not arrested until February 2011, a month after Fast and Furious closed down.

When gun-walking links to the murder of ICE Agent Jaime Zapata, from a program similar to Operation Fast and Furious, were established, Congressional investigators Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, stating that “failure to conduct surveillance of individuals known to be trafficking weapons to Mexico was a core problem” with the “irresponsible tactics” used in these operations.  Wonder what they’ll say about the top Fast and Furious agent writing her number on a $10 bill before sending the primary target on his merry way.

This story goes a long way toward shredding the rationale Holder and other Obama Administration operatives have advanced for the deadly gun-walking outrage.  For those with dark suspicions about what the true purpose might have been, Breitbart.com has uncovered 1995 video of Holder, on the eve of becoming Deputy Attorney General under Bill Clinton, telling the Women’s National Democratic Club that it was important to “really brainwash people into thinking about guns in a vastly different way.” 

At the time, Holder was leaning on Washington, D.C. newspapers and advertisers to launch an anti-gun demonization campaign, along the lines of the anti-tobacco crusade.  He also wanted the failed D.C. public school system to waste even more time by making anti-gun messages part of “every day, every school, and every level.”  There’s always room for more political indoctrination in public schools, no matter how disastrous public “education” becomes.


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