Barack Obama and Eric Holder are doubtlessly grateful that virtually everyone, including the mainstream media, has turned the Fast and Furious page and moved on to more recent White House Administration scandals. But, the human carnage continues to mount.
A Los Angeles Times investigation uncovered Justice Department documentation of the assassination Luis Lucio Rosales Astorga, the Police Chief of Hostotipaquillo in the west-central Mexican state of Jalisco, who "was shot to death Jan. 29 when gunmen intercepted his patrol car and opened fire." Also killed was one of Astorga's bodyguards. The Chief's wife and another bodyguard were also wounded.
Eight suspects were apprehended shortly after the shootout along with "rifles, grenades, handguns, helmets, bulletproof vests, uniforms and special communications equipment. The area is a hot zone for rival drug gangs, with members of three cartels fighting over turf in the region," according to theLA Times. The rifle used to kill Chief Astorga was traced back to the ATF Fast and Furious "gunwalking" scandal. According to the published report:
A semi-automatic WASR rifle, the firearm that killed the chief, was traced back to the Lone Wolf Trading Company, a gun store in Glendale, Ariz. The notation on the Department of Justice trace records said the WASR was used in a “HOMICIDE – WILLFUL– KILL –PUB OFF –GUN” –ATF code for “Homicide, Willful Killing of a Public Official, Gun.”
The Mexican government says 211 people have been killed or wounded by weapons traced to the 2009-2010 Fast and Furious operation. Specific to the weapon used in the murder of Chief Astorga, theLA Timesreports:
The WASR used in Jalisco was purchased on Feb. 22, 2010, about three months into the Fast and Furious operation, by 26-year-old Jacob A. Montelongo of Phoenix. He later pleaded guilty to conspiracy, making false statements and smuggling goods from the United States and was sentenced to 41 months in prison.
Court records show Montelongo personally obtained at least 109 firearms during Fast and Furious. How the WASR ended up in the state of Jalisco, which is deep in central Mexico and includes the country’s second-largest metropolis, Guadalajara, remained unclear.
After the shooting in Jalisco, local officials said some of the suspects confessed to two other shootouts in the area, including one that left seven people dead, all part of the continuing feud by rival cartel members.
The ATF declined to discuss the matter; officials said they are still compiling an inventory of all the lost firearms for a complete account of the Fast and Furious operation.
On December 14, 2010 U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed during an operation to track down illegal Mexican bandits in Arizona's Peck Canyon. Guns left at the murder scene were also traced to Fast and Furious.
Fast and Furious was an ill-conceived ATF operation that intentionally put guns into the possession of the Mexican drug cartels – among the most violent criminals on the planet – supposedly to make it possible to track and apprehend the bad guys. It didn't work.
ATF allowed "more than 2000 weapons, including giant .50 caliber guns, to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels and other criminals. Other so-called "gunwalking" operations by ATF let hundreds more guns hit the street," according to a CBS News report. Unfortunately, "most of them have never been recovered."
ATF (The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) is a division the Department of Justice. Attorney General Eric Holder testified on May 3, 2011 to Congress that, "I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks."
However, Holder's claim of innocence – or ignorance – melted away with the discovery of numerous high level DOJ memos from 2010 including one in July from the Director of the National Drug Intelligence Center informing Holder that Fast and Furious straw gun buyers, like Montelongo mentioned above, "are responsible for the purchase of 1,500 firearms that were then supplied to the Mexican drug trafficking cartels."
The document trail left Holder with two options: either the Attorney General who even critics acknowledge is a highly intelligent man somehow completely forgot all of the numerous briefings and communications regarding Fast and Furious until just prior to the May, 2011 Congressional hearing, or the Attorney General committed perjury by lying under oath.
We still don't have the answer to that question. Nor do we know who is ultimately responsible for the death of Agent Terry and hundreds of Mexicans. What we do know is that Eric Holder is still the Attorney General, the Mexican drug cartels are still heavily armed in part courtesy of the U.S. government, the death toll continues to grow, and too few people seem to care.