American Rifleman - July 2011 - 40

FEATURE

PROJECT GUNRUNNER

As the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives continues to resist congressional demands that it
examine its reckless operations on the Southwest border, Mexican citizens, and even U.S. federal agents, are
paying the price-with their very lives.
BY JAMES O.E. NORELL, Contributing Editor

U

Fast, Furious And Deadly

ntil CBS News first aired correspondent
Sharyl Attkisson's continuing blockbuster
series on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco,
Firearms and Explosives' (BATFE) project
"Fast and Furious," very few Americans had
a clue that the agency was reportedly "monitoring"
individual criminals as they violated federal firearm
and smuggling laws.
Through whistleblowing by inside-agency critics and journalists, pro-gun Americans have become
increasingly suspicious of the agency's fraudulent
international "tracing scheme." But it wasn't until the
Dec. 14, 2010, death of a 41-year-old federal agent in
Arizona that a conscientious segment of the national
media was jarred into action.
In the midst of a near-midnight shootout between
U.S. Border Patrol agents patrolling a remote canyon
near Nogales, Ariz., and a group of armed Mexican
bandits, agent Brian Terry was shot and killed with a
single bullet in a hail of 7.62x39 mm gunfire. The border patrol agents, for their part, initially used beanbag
rounds against the illegals.
This loss of a federal agent in a beanbag-versus-AK
gunfight would have been hugely controversial by itself.
All of that was eclipsed by the fact that one of the guns
used by the bandits was traced to "Fast and Furious," a
BATFE criminal-observation scheme named for a Hollywood G-man violence fantasy film. It might just as well
have been called "Gone with the Wind."

38 J

ULY

2011

WWW.AMERICANRIFLEMAN.ORG

Fast and Furious was part of the larger $80 million
BATFE Project Gunrunner, touted as a Justice Department answer to Mexican bloodletting. However, Project
Gunrunner was the subject of two scathing Justice
Department Office of Inspector General (OIG) reports
that concluded the project was a waste of taxpayer
funds and manpower, and that it had produced no big
takedowns of real cartel criminals. Fast and Furious was
launched to show that BATFE's tracing could, after all,
lead to big-time busts in Mexico.
But there were a couple of problems. The Mexican
authorities were never in on it, and the U.S. Justice
Department had little presence across the border.
According to reports, thousands of firearms were
"walked" across the border. Keeping the operation secret from Mexican authorities guaranteed the
"walked" guns would be lost until they turned up at
scenes of murderous carnage.
The idea was that BATFE could then trace the guns
back to the border state licensed retailers, where
BATFE had "monitored" illegal gun sales in the first
place, thus fulfilling the basis for the Obama administration's three-year big-lie campaign that gun stores
were the source of 90 percent of guns used by the massive criminal network known as the Mexican cartels.
Among direct participants in the remarkable CBS
exposé were two BATFE frontline agents: John Dodson,
stationed in Phoenix; and Darren Gil, forced to retire
as the agency's attaché in Mexico City.


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American Rifleman - July 2011

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