Stewart Scott

On the night of Dec. 14, 2010, U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was shot and killed while on patrol in an Arizona canyon near the U.S.-Mexico border. Two guns found at the scene were linked to an investigation being run by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) called "Operation Fast and Furious," sparking a congressional inquiry into the program and generating considerable criticism of the ATF and the Obama administration. Because of this criticism, in August 2011 ATF acting director Kenneth Melson was reassigned from his post and the U.S. attorney for Arizona was forced to resign.

Currently, the congressional inquiry is focused on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who has been accused of misleading Congress about what he knew about Fast and Furious and when he learned it. The Obama administration has invoked executive privilege to block the release of some of the Department of Justice emails and memos sought by Congress pertaining to the operation. The controversy escalated June 28 when the U.S. House of Representatives voted to hold Holder in contempt of Congress for ignoring its subpoenas.

As all Second Amendment issues are political hot buttons, and with this being a presidential election year in the United States, the political wrangling over Fast and Furious is certain to increase in the coming months. The debate is also sure to become increasingly partisan and pointed. But, frankly, this political wrangling is not what we find to be the most interesting aspect of the operation's fallout. Rather, we are more interested in the way that criticism of Fast and Furious has altered law enforcement efforts to stem the flow of guns from the United States to Mexico and the way these changes will influence how Mexican cartels acquire weapons.

Law Enforcement Shifts


Stewart Scott

Stewart Scott is a security analyst for Stratfor.