Fast & Furious Blurs the Line Between Cops and Crooks

ATF Supervisor’s Questionable Gun Purchases Appear to Be Business As Usual

By Bill Conroy

fafTwo guns of interest were found in late November of last year near the scene of a gun battle in the Mexican state of Sinaloa. The battle, waged between the Mexican military and alleged drug traffickers, left five people dead, including a Mexican solider and a beauty queen named Maria Susana Flores Gamez.

One of those guns can be traced back to a Phoenix gun store that sold multiple weapons to local, state and federal law enforcers who allegedly provided inaccurate information on firearms-transaction reports filed as part of those purchases, Narco News has learned. The ultimate fate of those guns is not known but the potential fallout for multiple law enforcers in the Phoenix area could be serious, possibly even criminal, should the matter be investigated thoroughly — though it is that potential alone that may assure no law enforcer or prosecutor is going to take on the task.

The victims in the Sinaloa shootout last November were five of the estimated 120,000 Mexicans killed since late 2006 in that country’s bloody drug war. The two guns that made headlines in the wake of that shootout were among the 2,000 or so weapons that US law enforcers, specifically the ATF, allowed smugglers to purchase in Arizona and transport into Mexico, unimpeded, as part of the now-infamous Operation Fast and Furious.

The supposed goal of Fast and Furious was to let the guns flow across the border, resulting in countless homicides in Mexico, so that ATF brass and US prosecutors could identify and indict the big fish in the arms smuggling rings — thereby grabbing big headlines and advancing their careers.

The lead prosecutor for Operation Fast and Furious was an Assistant U.S. Attorney out of Phoenix named Emory Hurley. The ATF supervisor who served as the Assistant Special Agent in Charge of Fast and Furious from October 2009 until April 2010 was George Gillett Jr. Both individuals are still employed by the Department of Justice — though both have since been transferred new assignments.

One of the prime targets of the Fast and Furious investigation was an individual named Uriel Patino, a prolific arms smuggler who liked to deal in AK-47-style assault rifles and semi-automatic FN Hertsal 5.7 caliber pistols —known as cop killers in Mexico because of their knack for firing rounds that can penetrate bullet-proof vests.

Given these facts, it was more than a little disconcerting to a U.S. senator who has been investigating Fast and Furious when he discovered that one of the guns found near the scene of the recent Sinaloa gun battle was previously owned by ATF supervisor Gillett — while yet another gun found at the same crime scene, an AK-47, traced back to the arms smuggler Patino. What are the odds of that?

Read the full article by our favorite investigative journalist Bill Conroy @ NarcoNews here.

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