Operation Fast and Furious was a disaster for the United States government in many ways. Used by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to track down illegal gun purchases, it led to thousands of guns finding their way into Mexico. According to a report by CNN, about 2,000 guns worth $1.5 million were illegally purchased. The strategy began in 2009 after Phoenix-based ATF agents were tipped off about suspicious individuals who seemed to be part of an illegal large-scale gun smuggling ring.
It was later on dubbed Operation Fast And Furious and went on until 2011. According to Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla, son of Ismael Zambada García, one of the Sinaloa Cartel leaders alongside Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman, the U.S. government had in the years coinciding with the gun-tracking operation, given their cartel leeway to traffic drugs into the country and ship guns related to Fast and Furious back to Mexico.
El Mayo’s son sought to bring up the matter in a 2012 court filing after he was arrested in Mexico and extradited to the United States. He was facing drug trafficking charges. The following is part of the statement relating to this as outlined in court documents filed by his legal representatives.
“Mr. Zambada-Niebla believes that the documentation that he requests will confirm that the weapons received by Sinaloa Cartel members and its leaders in Operation ‘Fast & Furious’ were provided under the agreement entered into between the United States government and Mr. Loya-Castro on behalf of the Sinaloa Cartel that is the subject of his defense are public authority.
Mr. Zambada-Niebla believes that the documentation will also provide evidence showing that the United States government has a policy and pattern of providing benefits, including immunity, to cartel leaders, including the Sinaloa Cartel and their members, who are willing to provide information against rival drug cartels.”
This is according to Narco News. In 2014, a gun linked to the operation was found in El Chapo’s hideout just before he was arrested. According to Tom Mangan, an ATF agent who spoke to Vice, the Barrett.50-caliber was one firearm among 11 found in the drug lord’s residence and could be traced back to the person who purchased or sold it.
Operation Fast And Furious came into the limelight in 2010 following the shooting and death of Brian Terry, a border agent in Arizona. Two guns found at the scene were connected to the covert operation.
On the most recent developments in regard to Operation Fast and Furious, Attorney General Jeff Sessions made an announcement on Wednesday stating that documents connected to the operation would be made available to Congress by the Department of Justice. The department while under Eric Holder had declined to do so in 2012.