Not to be confused with The Fast and The Furious movie franchise.
Operation Fast and Furious was an Obama administration program, approved at the highest levels of the White House, authorizing the illegal sale in the United States of high powered assault rifles and other firearms, to purchasers and intermediaries of Mexican drug cartels.
A joint strike force of the United States Treasury Department Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and the U.S. Justice Department was organized and funded to sell the guns used by Mexican drug gangs in the hopes criminal violence would spawn public support for the Obama administration's gun control policies. Thousands were killed – and continue to be killed – mostly in Mexico, by these weapons.
Operation Fast and Furious developed into an enormous scandal and failure for the Obama administration. At least two U.S. border guards were killed by weapons allowed to "walk" in Operation Fast and Furious and thousands of deaths in Mexico's drug war.
Scale of the operation and violence
The ATF named their operation Fast and Furious. Congressional Democrats claimed it was an Obama administration recreation of a defunct Bush-era program known as "Gunwalker." However, the Bush administration's program allowed a few sales in a reverse sting operation and nothing on the scale of an inter-agency, cross-border joint strike force with multi-million dollar funding. There is evidence the Obama administration operated the program in several border states, however Congressional investigators were unable to pierce the Obama administration's layers of secrecy outside Arizona.
On January 31, 2010, in Villas de Salvárcar massacre, Juárez, Mexico, a birthday party attended by high school students was intruded upon by a group of 20 La Línea drug cartel hitmen. 15 teenage boys and girls were killed and 12 received injuries. The brutality of the crime outraged people both in and outside Mexico. The weapons used came from President Obama's Fast and Furious program.
Year Mexican drug-related gun murders skyrocket
during Obama's Fast and Furious campaign
2006 62 2007 2,837 2008 6,844 2009 11,753 2010 19,546 2011 24,068 2012 18,061 (by October 31, 2012) 2013 23,640 killed in 2013 (through to March 2014)
By June 2010, Operation Fast and Furious suspects purchased 1,608 firearms at a cost of over $1 million at Phoenix-area gun shops. ATF was aware of 179 of those weapons found at crime scenes in Mexico, and 130 in the United States. As guns traced to Fast and Furious began turning up at violent crime scenes in Mexico, ATF agents stationed in Mexico voiced opposition to the program.
One of the nineteen guns Mexican authorities said they found at the hideout of Joaquin Guzman aka El Chapo, after his January 2016 capture, was associated with the Fast and Furious operation. The Justice Department confirmed that the .50-caliber rifle was bought in July 2010 in a straw purchase by someone not known to the ATF at the time.
US Border Patrol agents killed
December 14, 2010, US Border Patrol agent Brian Terry and others were patrolling Peck Canyon, Santa Cruz County, Arizona 11 miles from the Mexican border. The group came across five suspected illegal immigrants. When they fired non-lethal beanbag guns, the suspects responded with live fire. Agent Terry was killed. Four of the suspects were apprehended and two AK-47 type weapons. Eric Holder's office was immediately notified of the shooting incident by email. The weapons were traced within hours to a purchase involved in the Fast and Furious operation.
After Agent Terry's killing the first public disclosures about Operation Fast and Furious occurred on January 25, 2011. Obama and Holder's Justice Dept. denied that guns had been deliberately allowed to walk into Mexico. Altogether, about 2,000 firearms were bought by straw purchasers during Fast and Furious. These included AK-47 variants, Barrett .50 caliber sniper rifles, .38 caliber revolvers, and FN Five-sevens. 389 had been recovered in the US and 276 had been recovered in Mexico. The rest remained on the streets, unaccounted for. The total number of recovered firearms was 710. Most of the guns went to the Sinaloa drug cartel, while others made their way to El Teo and La Familia Michoacana crime organizations.
Efforts to scuttle Congressional oversight
While the United States Congress was conducting an investigation into why the Executive Branch allowed high-powered guns to be illegally "walked" to drug cartels, the liberal Media, Democrat politicians, and the White House attempted to cover-up the facts. The Obama administration has been reported to have intimidated witnesses into not testifying to Congress.
Acting on a whistleblower tip, Grassley wrote a letter to the ATF Acting Director on January 27, 2011 requesting information about the ATF-sanctioned sale of hundreds of firearms to straw purchasers. The letter mentioned a number of allegations that walked guns were used in the fight that killed Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. A second letter from Grassley on January 31 accused the ATF of targeting whistleblowers.
On February 4, 2011 the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, the US Attorney's Office in Phoenix, and ATF Headquarters, Ronald Weich sends a response to Sen. Grassley regarding his two January letters. Weich said claims "...that (the) ATF ‘sanctioned’ or otherwise knowingly allowed the sale of assault weapons to a straw purchaser who then transported them to Mexico [are] false. ATF makes every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally and prevent their transportation to Mexico.”
On July 26, 2011, during a hearing on the operation, ATF Special Agent Bill Newell told Congress he discussed the case with a White House National Security staffer as early as September 2010.
Other known crimes, in Mexico and in America, have been traced to these weapons. Gunwalker firearms have turned up in Arizona gun crimes, and some of the firearms in question may not have ever left the United States at all. "Our federal government may bear responsibility for at least 200 murders committed with “walked” firearms."  Ed Morrissey claims, "at least 300 lives" have been needlessly lost.
New details of Operation Fast and Furious are still being uncovered. The Department of Justice inspector general investigated the crime. Barack Obama intended to use the violence and death caused by the covert program as a means to implement stricter gun control. A Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives whistleblower stated that the Obama Administration obstructed justice by covering up any link between Operating Fast and Furious and Brian Terry's death.
- The Department of Justice was running guns into Honduras eight months ago, as well as into Mexico. It's beginning to add up to an attempt to justify another United Nations attack on the sovereignty of the United States.
As Hot Air noted, "...before Congressional investigators, Kenneth Melson, acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), revealed important new details of Operation Fast and Furious..."
- The ATF isn’t the only agency to bear some responsibility for the botched operation that sent guns to Mexico. The Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Drug Enforcement Agency seem to have possessed information that could have had a material impact on Fast and Furious (i.e. info that could have eliminated or reduced the ostensible ‘need’ for the operation in the first place). Or, as the letter puts it, “We have very real indications from several sources that some of the gun trafficking ‘higher-ups’ that the ATF sought to identify were already known to other agencies and may even have been paid as informants.”
- Taxpayer money was likely used to finance the gunrunning. “The evidence we have gathered raises the disturbing possibility that the Justice Department not only allowed criminals to smuggle weapons but that taxpayer dollars from other agencies may have financed those engaging in such activities.”
- Senior ATF officials would have preferred to cooperate with Congressional inquiries — but “Department of Justice officials directed them not to respond and took full control of replying to briefing and document requests from Congress.”
- Melson was at no point asked to resign.
- White House delayed rule meant to stop gun flow to Mexico, Sari Horwitz and James V. Grimaldi, Washington Post, December 17, 2010
- The Definitive Scandal: ‘Gunwalker’ Much Worse Than ‘Iran-Contra’, Pajamas Media, July 8, 2011.
- Reyes, Gerardo and Santiago Wills. "Fast and Furious Scandal: New Details Emerge on How the U.S. Government Armed Mexican Drug Cartels." ABC News. September 30, 2012. Retrieved on October 6, 2014.
- "2010: Ocurre en Juárez la 'Masacre de Salvárcar'; 15 jóvenes fueron asesinados." El Siglo de Torreón. Thursday January 31, 2013. Retrieved on October 6, 2014.
- Martínez-Cabrera, Alejandro. "Official: Villas de Salvarcar massacre suspect tortured by Mexican army." El Paso Times. March 16, 2012. Retrieved on October 6, 2014.
- Washington Post
- Law Enforcement Sources: Gun Used in Paris Terrorist Attacks Came from Phoenix, Judicial Watch, June 29, 2016
- Gun From El Chapo’s Hideout Linked to Fast and Furious Operation; Time; Eric Tucker & Alicia A. Caldwell; March 16, 2016
- ‘Fast & Furious’ rifle capable of taking down helicopter found in 'El Chapo' cache, Fox News, January 20, 2016.
- Carrie Johnson, "Emails Show How 'Fast And Furious' Ambush News Unfolded At Justice Dept". NPR, January 27, 2012.
- Department of Justice report
- The Department of Justice’s Operation Fast and Furious: Fueling Cartel Violence (PDF). United States Congress.
- Yost, Pete. 2007 Justice memo mentioned gun-walking probe. Yahoo! News. Retrieved on June 20, 2012.
- Department of Justicebreport
- Christian Science Monitor
- Mark Hemingway. Obama Admin Seals Records of Murdered Border Patrol Agent Implicated in Fast and Furious, The Weekly Standard, November 30, 2011.
- Wagner, Dennis. Phoenix-area gun store, ATF sting may be linked to shootout. The Arizona Republic.
- Lott, Maxim. "Senator Calls ATF on Allegations Agency Is Allowing Guns Into Mexico", Fox News, February 2, 2011.
- Department of Justice Inspector General report
- Salant, Jonathan. "Erroneous Gun Letter Based on U.S. Attorney, Documents Show", Bloomberg.
- Weich, Ronald. Letter dated February 4, 2011, from U.S. Department of Justice to Senator Charles E. Grassley (PDF). United States Senate.
- Sharyl Attkisson. ATF Manager says he shared Fast and Furious Info with White House, CBS News, July 26, 2011.
- MSM Sheep: Ignoring the Scandal of the Century, Pajama's Media, September 28, 2011
- It's time for Eric Holder to resign, The Week, December 20, 2011
- Bob Owens. DOJ Inspector General Can’t Be Trusted to Investigate Gunwalker, Pajamas Media, July 8, 2011.
- Obama’s Assault On The Second Amendment: Project Gunwalker, Tarpon's Swamp, March 4, 2011.
- Roger Hedgecock. Obama's the Target of Mexico Gunrunning Probe, Human Events, June 17, 2011.
- Obama’s Latest ‘Gun Control’ Proposal will not Close ‘Gunwalker Loophole’, Posted on March 15, 2011 by 2ndAmendmentright.org.
- Price, Bob (June 24, 2017). ATF Whistleblower: Obama’s DOJ Obstructed Justice in ‘Fast and Furious’ Investigation. Breitbart News. Retrieved June 25, 2017.
- ...the post-testimony fallout...