Sunday, July 10, 2011

Mexico Demands U.S. Answer Gun Running Questions

Mexico requests report on arms trafficking, Washington is unresponsive Foreign office had already sought data on shipment of 2,000 weapons with ATF knowledge

[Translation of an article from La Jornada of Mexico City for March 6. See original here.]

By Gustavo Castillo García

The Foreign Office has declared that it has already asked for “detailed informtion from the United States government” on Operation Fast and Furious, which allowed criminal groups to introduce 2,000 weapons into Mexican territory with the knowledge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).

Meanwhile, officials in the national security cabinet have indicated that only after receiving a formal request from the Untied States government will Mexican intelligence units collaborate in the search for supposed members of the network of traffickers under surveillance by ATF in its Fast and Furious plan.

At press time, officials of the Subprocuraduría de Investigación Especializada en Delincuencia Organizada (SIEDO – Organized Crime Investigation Unit of the Justice Department) indicated that no Mexican authority has begun an investigation into this matter.

The Mexican Foreign Office stated in a press release that it has proceded to “request detailed information from United States authorities in this matter” and indicated that “the government of Mexico will continue with special interest the investigations announced by both the ATF and the Justice Department [of the United States].”

According to the Mexican agency, “the objective of the Mexican and United States governments is to stop arms trafficking on the basis of the principle of shared responsibility and both are working to strengthen bilateral cooperation in this matter. This priority was ratified by the presidents of Mexico and the United States in Washington last March 3.”

This case is related to revelations made in the past few days by ATF agent John Dodson, who declared that his superiors ordered him to allow the passage of assault rifles and other weapons, which ended up in the hands of Mexican criminals.

Dodson told CBS News that in 2010, during his tenure in the ATF office in Phoenix, his superiors ordered him to permit the illegal passage of weapons from the United States to Mexico, since they were supposedly carrying out Operation Fast and Furious and a decoy sale had been finalized in which members of Mexican criminal groups involved in arms trafficking would be found.

The operation was kept secret from Mexican authorities and to date they have not been informed of the results nor has the Felipe Calderón administration been notified that some 2,000 weapons had been transferred.

In the face of his bosses’ refusal to acknowledge what had happened, the ATF agent declared, “We have been doing this every day as long as I’ve been here. Here I am. Tell me that I did not do the things I did. Tell me that you did not order me to do the things I did. Tell me it did not happen,” he declared in a television interview on CBS News.

The newscast mentioned that documents show the weapons transferred turned up later in connection with crimes committed in Mexico. “And while ATF stood by and observed how thousands of illegal arms were reaching the streets, the supervisor of Fast and Furious took note of the escalation of violence in Mexico.”

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