Fast and Furious: Time to connect the dots

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“Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.”

That familiar quote by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle should have been the guiding principle of any and all erstwhile investigations into Operation Fast and Furious that had truth, answers and facts – no matter where they lead – as the ultimate goals. Sadly, deflecting, denying, delaying, degrading and obfuscating seemed to have been the recurring themes however.

{mosads}Retrospectively analyzing a series of events that, if taken only as isolated occurrences don’t necessarily indicate a larger concern of great import, when evaluated in toto one finds a connected relationship which perhaps evidences systemic and organizational concealment if not complicity. The following is provided for consideration:

2005: Alleged high-ranking Sinaloa Cartel member and attorney for Juaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, Humberto Loya-Castro, signed a cooperation agreement with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California, states an affidavit signed by Loya-Castro handler, DEA agent Manuel Castanon. Case (No. 95CR0973) in which Loya-Castro, along with “El Chapo” and Ismael “Mayo” Zambada-Garcia, were indicted in 1995 in the Southern District of California was dismissed in 2008 at the request of prosecutors after Loya-Castro became an informant for the United States government and subsequently provided information for years.

October 2005: Two individuals who identified themselves as Federal agents (silver badges) meet with this author at the Dallas Hilton Hotel. Smith-Meck was officially there to attend a UH-60 Program Management Conference. Meeting in the early morning at the coffee shop in the lobby, the agents direct Smith-Meck to utilize his contacts at both Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Yuma, AZ and Army base Ft. Campbell, KY in order to inquire as to any military equipment (including weapons) lost or missing from those respective installations.

October, November, December 2010: During the months of October and November, Border Patrol agent and Marine veteran Brian Terry, not part of the Fast and Furious Operation and as recorded in journal pages he had purposefully secured under the inserts in his work boots, had stopped vehicles attempting to enter Mexico that contained numerous AK-47 assault rifles.

When he radioed the discovery to supervisors, the response was “Let ‘em through.” This, along with finding caches of ammunition buried in various locations in the desert, troubled him. Prior to Thanksgiving while visiting his mother, Josephine, in Michigan, Brian seemed to have the weight of the world on his shoulders. Almost spontaneously over coffee one afternoon, he told his mother, “I just don’t want to go back this time … something bad is going to happen.” On that final visit with his mother, Brian also told her that he was aggressively confronted by a couple of “bad” agents, and that he told them, “No need to talk to me; I’ll just walk away.” A source who was a close friend to and trusted confidant of Brian Terry during this time informed Brian relayed he discovered that at least some of his government co-workers were getting paid by the

Sinaloa Cartel. Agent Terry confronted his co-workers about this, calling them out regarding their actions. He was cautioned by them to get involved or “watch his back.” When he asked them to explain what they meant, they warned him there would be a “bounty on his head.” On that fateful night Agent Terry was called to respond to activity in the proximity of Peck Canyon near Rio Rico, AZ, he confided in this source, “I don’t think I’m coming back.” Brian Terry was murdered on December 14, 2010, ten minutes before his shift ended, and the day before all indications pointed to the fact he was going to “blow the whistle” on the Fast and Furious gun-walking debacle. The bullet that ended his life was allegedly fired from a Fast and Furious weapon, two of which were reported to have been found at the site.

January 2011: Brian’s brother, Kent Terry, told that following Brian’s murder, law enforcement officials were sympathetic, and most importantly, responsive to the Terry family’s concerns. After a memorial for Brian on January 22, 2011 in Tucson, Arizona, the family was invited to a hotel room full of government officials, including prosecutors and FBI agents. The purported purpose of the meeting was to allow Kent and his brother-in- law, Ron, to “ask any questions you might have” about Brian’s death. Rumors of guns being “walked” across the border to Mexico were already swirling. Ron, not one to mince words, immediately asked about the gun-walking.

He told, and Kent corroborated, that the room fell deafeningly silent. The officials failed to make eye contact (except with each other). That single question effectively ended the meeting. Both Kent and Ron got the gut feeling that they were summoned there not to have their questions answered but as a fishing expedition. How much did Kent and Ron know? Had Brian confided in them about what he knew? Is this why the government, without notifying the family and likely committing fourth amendment search and seizure violations, went into Brian’s private residence after his murder, rifled through his personal effects and removed all electronic/digital media devices, returning them – completely wiped clean – to the family a full year later? A couple hours later in that same hotel, the Terry family was approached my members of the National Border Patrol Council. The union leadership expressed their condolences, but then very cryptically referred to 3 specific e-mails they had received from Brian in the weeks preceding his murder. They wanted the Terrys to be aware of them, but said they weren’t allowed to discuss the content. It was obvious, based on the union representative’s tone and demeanor, they weren’t typical union communications, such as transfer requests or shift schedules.

March 2011: As reported on by local and national media, on March 11, 11 undocumented aliens who’d managed to enter the US from Mexico had been caught wearing US Marine Corps Marine Pattern (MARPAT) desert digital Battle Dress Uniforms (BDUs). But more troubling than that, when they were stopped by alert Border Patrol agents near Campo, Calif., the 11 illegals and the three US citizens (who were wearing Marine woodland digital BDUs) traveling with them were driving an allegedly stolen vehicle from MCAS Yuma with altered US Government license plates. Per the OPREP-3 (advisory on a specific significant event that is required to be issued to the highest levels of command), after investigation it was determined the van was stolen and had altered plates belonging to a one-ton cargo van registered to the US Marine Corps. According to the report, the preliminary investigation of the incident determined that “the original check out point of the vehicle [a plain white van] was the Marine Corps Air Station [at] Yuma.” The OPREP-3 further noted that Border Patrol also stopped what was described as “a trail vehicle” that “was carrying additional military uniforms and Staff Sergeant chevrons.” According to the report, Border Patrol agents stopped the van at the Campo, California border check point (located about 28 miles east of Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) San Diego Sector Headquarters in rural East San Diego County) and quickly discovered that “no occupants possessed military ID cards.” Furthermore, each of the individual’s uniform’s Velcro name tapes bore the name “Perez.” Separate official reports on the incident indicated that 13 undocumented persons were actually apprehended. Then Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Steven Pitts, spokesman for Border Patrol’s San Diego Sector, is on the record as confirming “that [the apprehensions] did occur, yes,” and that the undocumented aliens had “been processed for deportation.” Pitts further confirmed on record that the San Diego Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Southwest Field Office has taken the lead in investigating this incident, and that the investigation “is ongoing.”

July – October 2011: As reported in numerous outlets, the son of a heavy hitter in a powerful Mexican drug trafficking organization had filed explosive legal pleadings in federal court in Chicago accusing the US government of cutting a deal with the “Sinaloa Cartel” that gave its leadership “carte blanche to continue to smuggle tons of illicit drugs into Chicago and the rest of the United States.” The source of that allegation is Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla, the son of Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada Garcia, one of the purported top leaders of the Sinaloa drug-trafficking organization — a major Mexican-based importer of weapons and exporter of drugs.

Zambada-Niebla, himself a key player in the Sinaloa organization, was arrested in Mexico City in March 2009 and in February 2010 extradited to the United States to stand trial on narco-trafficking-related charges. Zambada-Niebla also claimed to be an asset of the US government.

His allegation was laid out originally in a two-page court pleading filed in late March with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago. The allegations advanced by Zambada-Niebla were laid out in motions filed in federal court. Those pleadings spelled out the supposed cooperative relationship between the US Department of Justice and its various agencies, including DEA and the FBI, and the leaders of the “Sinaloa Cartel” — including Zambada-Niebla. That alleged relationship was cultivated through a Mexican attorney, Humberto Loya-Castro (same as mentioned above circa 2005 in this article), whom Zambada- Niebla claims is a Sinaloa Cartel member and “a close confidante of Joaquin Guzman Loera (Chapo).” The protection extended to the Sinaloa leadership, according to the court filings, included being “informed by agents of the DEA through Loya that United States government agents and/or Mexican authorities were conducting investigations near the home territories of cartel leaders so that the cartel leaders could take appropriate actions to evade investigators.” In addition, the pleadings alleged, the US government agreed not to “share any of the information they had about the Sinaloa Cartel and/or the leadership of the Sinaloa Cartel with the Mexican government in order to better assure that they would not be apprehended and so that their operations would not be interfered with.” Zambada-Niedla, known as the Sinaloa Cartel’s “logistics coordinator,” also made startling allegations that the failed federal gun-walking operation known as “Fast and Furious” isn’t what you think it is. It wasn’t about tracking guns, it was about supplying them — all part of an elaborate agreement between the U.S. government and Mexico’s powerful Sinaloa Cartel to take down rival cartels. Based on the alleged agreement  ”the Sinaloa Cartel under the leadership of defendant’s father, Ismael Zambada-Niebla and ‘Chapo’ Guzman, were given carte blanche to continue to smuggle tons of illicit drugs into Chicago and the rest of the United States and were also protected by the United States government from arrest and prosecution in return for providing information against rival cartels which helped Mexican and United States authorities capture or kill thousands of rival cartel members,” stated a motion for discovery filed in U.S. District Court by Zambada-Niebla’s attorney in July 2011. According to Zambada-Niebla, Fast and Furious was a product of the collusion between the U.S. government and the Sinaloa Cartel.

The claims seem to fall in line with statements made by Guillermo Terrazas Villanueva, a spokesman for the Chihuahua state government in northern Mexico, who said U.S. agencies “don’t fight drug traffickers,” instead “they try to manage the drug trade.”

June 2012: Per Judicial Watch reporting, “On June 28, 2012, Attorney General Eric Holder was held in contempt by the House of Representatives over his refusal to turn over records explaining why the Obama administration may have lied to Congress and refused for months to disclose the truth about the gun running operation.  It marked the first time in U.S. history that a sitting Attorney General was held in contempt of Congress. A week before the contempt finding, to protect Holder from criminal prosecution and stave off the contempt vote, President Obama asserted executive privilege over the Fast and Furious records the House Oversight Committee had subpoenaed eight months earlier…”

Late September/Early October 2013: An officer of the court faxed documents to both Rep. Darrell Issa’s (at the time, Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee) office and that of the Majority for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that stated not only were handguns and rifles part of the weapons-running known as Operation Fast and Furious, but that grenades and grenade launchers were also (as well as Night Vision Goggles, Kevlar vests and black, tactical uniforms). In a follow-up phone call, receipt of those documents was confirmed. Per Judicial Watch’s own reporting regarding DOJ’s IG October 2014 report entitled “Review of ATF’s Investigation of Jean Baptiste Kingery,” DOJ IG itself confirmed both grenades and grenade launchers were part of Fast and Furious. This was over a full year after that information was made known to both Rep. Issa and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Per Judicial Watch’s own posting on October 3, 2014: “In this case, the feds let an American named Jean Baptiste Kingery, who smuggled thousands of grenade parts from the U.S. to Mexico, continue to operate his illicit business. Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) knew he ordered large amounts of grenade components from a military surplus dealer and figured he would smuggle them into Mexico to build live grenades for that country’s drug cartels. Instead of arresting and criminally charging him, they allowed the shipments to be delivered with the idea of tracking Kingery.

Similar to what occurred in the Fast and Furious, the feds lost track of Kingery and his weapons…Not coincidentally, the Arizona federal prosecutor, Emory Hurley, who failed to bring charges against suspected criminals in the Fast and Furious debacle, did the same in this case. In fact, he passed up numerous opportunities to arrest and criminally charge Kingery, according to the federal audit, issued by the DOJ Inspector General. Adding insult to injury, it was Mexican authorities that eventually charged Kingery after he eluded U.S. agents. His grenades were used in major crime scenes south of the border and when Mexican police raided his house in Mazatlan, Mexico, they found material to build 1,000 hand grenades. This is material that was smuggled with the knowledge of the U.S. government. Like he did with the botched gun-running operation, Attorney General Eric Holder tried to cover up details of this failed experiment. In its lengthy report the DOJ watchdog points out in a foot note that Holder slowed down access to information for the Kingery probe just as Fast and Furious was also heating up…”

February, August 2014: On February 17 th (Presidents’ Day), this author was stopped by two men who identified themselves as agents Weston and Maxwell. They stated to Smith-Meck, “Your contacts in DC have contacted us. We’ve got it. Big news end of the week.” Smith-Meck emailed an officer of the court and two others immediately following this encounter. On Friday, February 21 st , “El Chapo” Guzman was apprehended in Mexico. In mid-August, Smith-Meck was waived down by an individual in a US Air Force digital pattern Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) who identified himself as Col Taylor of the Office of Special Investigation (OSI). He stated to Smith-Meck that DoD was aware of potential military installation and equipment involvement in Fast and Furious. As in February of this same year, Smith-Meck immediately afterward emailed an officer of the court and two others as to what had just occurred. 

October 2015: In conversations with Kent Terry subsequent to the trial that lead to the conviction of two men involved with the murder of Kent’s brother, Agent Brian Terry, Kent indicated the FBI Field Office out of Tucson (handling the investigation of the murder of Brian) returned Brian’s cell phone to the family only after the trial, stating they had “overlooked it” in Brian’s vest. This was nearly five years after Brian’s murder. This was the same trial in which federal prosecutors motioned – and were granted – that no mention of Fast and Furious be allowed during the trial.

November 2015: Per Judicial Watch’s reporting on June 29, 2016: “One of the guns used in the November 13, 2015 Paris terrorist attacks came from Phoenix, Arizona where the Obama administration allowed criminals to buy thousands of weapons illegally in a deadly and futile ‘gun-walking’ operation known as ‘Fast and Furious.’ A Report of Investigation (ROI) filed by a case agent in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF) tracked the gun used in the Paris attacks to a Phoenix gun owner who sold it illegally, ‘off book,’ Judicial Watch’s law enforcement sources confirm. Federal agents tracing the firearm also found the Phoenix gun owner to be in possession of an unregistered fully automatic weapon, according to law enforcement officials with firsthand knowledge of the investigation. The investigative follow up of the Paris weapon consisted of tracking a paper trail using a 4473 form, which documents a gun’s ownership history by, among other things, using serial numbers. The Phoenix gun owner that the weapon was traced back to was found to have at least two federal firearms violations—for selling one weapon illegally and possessing an unregistered automatic—but no enforcement or prosecutorial action was taken against the individual. Instead, ATF leaders went out of their way to keep the information under the radar and ensure that the gun owner’s identity was “kept quiet,” according to law enforcement sources involved with the case. ‘Agents were told, in the process of taking the fully auto, not to anger the seller to prevent him from going public,’ a veteran law enforcement official told Judicial Watch.”

October 2016: U.S. Attorney for Middle District of Tennessee reported on October 6 th that Fort Campbell, KY soldiers sold stolen Army gear to buyers overseas. According to the indictment, the eight men “sold certain U.S. Army equipment that is never offered for sale by the U.S. Department of Defense as surplus” starting in 2013.

The now predictable and constant refrain from DC – whether dealing with the IRS, VA or Fast and Furious – was that a “rogue official” in some “distant office” was somehow responsible for whatever the scandal might be. If that were the case, one would think that “rogue” official would be held accountable and prosecuted for her or his actions. Distressingly, no one has been held accountable and prosecuted for the illegal gun-walking debacle known as Fast and Furious. Quite to the contrary, the “wagons were circled” and the truth seems to have become the casualty.

Agent Brian Terry – and countless others – sacrificed their lives and/or careers in both holding people/agencies accountable and ensuring the truth was made known to the American people. We only hope that those in DC with only their political comforts on the line will live up to the example that Brian Terry has set for us all. Semper Fi, Marine.

Matthew Smith-Meck is a designated Whistleblower and retired Marine Officer.


The views expressed by Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.





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