|William Newell former ATF agent and the OCDETF task force hold a press conference after seizing guns that were later revealed to be part of the "Fast and Furious" operation.|
All fingers point to the Justice Department and the lack of communication to ATF field agents who were on the ground and involved in seizing guns from Mexican cartels. These agents who had never been read in to “Fast and Furious” first became alarmed at the number of guns they were seizing as early as 2009. There was also no communication to Mexican authorities on details of the Fast and Furious operation. ATF agents testified that after noting the significant number of assault rifles and other firearms along the border they communicated these concerns to their superiors but they were still not informed of the operation or the source of these firearms.
William Newell, former ATF Special Agent in Charge Phoenix Field Division, who would have been the agent responsible for notifying these agents under his command said in his opening statement that, “From the beginning of this investigation in late 2009 to the first indictments in January of 2011 I made every reasonable effort to keep the Phoenix PGR representative and my ATF colleagues in Mexico briefed on this investigation. I am also aware of numerous discussions throughout this investigation between the agents working this case with their ATF peers in Mexico, dialogue which I encouraged.” However testimony later revealed that neither ATF agents in the field or Mexican authorities were informed that guns were being trafficked into Mexico as part of the Fast and Furious operation.
Congressman Burton (R-IN) and Danny K. Davis (D-IL) continuously pressed Newell on his personal knowledge of this practice of let guns “walk” into the hands of known felons and arm traffickers, many of whom worked for Mexican Cartels. Newell repeatedly dodged the question by repeating the operations objectives. “Fast and Furious” was an OCDETF operation designed, to identify the purchasers, financers, transporters and decision makers in a Mexican Cartel based firearms trafficking organization, to interdict, when lawfully possible, firearms presumptively destined for Mexico, to share, when appropriate, relevant information was with U.S. and Mexican law enforcement authorities, to develop intelligence on other firearms trafficking organizations and to charge, arrest and dismantle the entire organization.”
However none of these objectives were met because after the guns were allowed to “walk” there was no means to track them. Only six of the two-thousand weapons were assigned GPS tracking devices. Of those guns that were tracked the batteries died therefore the arms were lost as traffickers moved them from the hands of U.S. agents to the streets of Mexican cities. Newell insisted that the guns were tracked as they were seized by authorities. The ATF's method of "tracking" Fast and Furious firearms resulted in only six hundred of the two-thousand weapons released by U.S. officials being returned. Although these weapons were eventually confiscated it was well after they were used to commit multiple crimes, including murder on both sides of the border.