The Obama Administration’s gun-walking program was widely known within the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), even seizing some of the weapons that the ATF was trying to “walk” to the Sinaloa cartel.
Congressional lawmakers critical of the Justice Department released documents on Feb. 2 that revealed the ATF had enough evidence as early as 2009 to arrest the gun buyers. The memos show that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in Phoenix had wiretaps on the straw buyers and shared that with the ATF. But no arrests were made at that time; the Congressional report concludes that the ATF wanted to build their own case instead of sharing the arrests with the DEA.
Ultimately, guns from those straw buyers were found a year later in Southern Arizona where U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was shot and killed in December 2010.
Tony Coulson was the DEA official in charge of Tucson at the time. He says the problems ran even deeper than that.
“In 2009, 2010, I became aware that ATF was walking guns into Mexico,” Coulson said. “I also learned that Homeland Security Investigations, then ICE, actually interceded on more than one occasion where they seized weapons at the ports of entry when they were heading southbound contrary to ATF’s plans.”
There was serious friction, Coulson claims, between ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and the ATF in Phoenix. When Coulson took the gun walking to his bosses in Phoenix, he was told the lead law enforcement official in Arizona – U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke – was already aware of it.
Burke has since resigned, as a result of the public scandal resulting from Operation Fast and Furious.
Coulson also claims politics played a role in how Fast and Furious unfolded. The ATF officials who supervised the gun walking out of Phoenix were telling the news media as early as 2008 that 90 percent of the guns seized in Mexico came from the U.S. In other words, the same agency that was waging a public battle against gun smuggling was facilitating gun walking at the same time.
The “90-percent lie” was championed by Barack Obama, Eric Holder, Janet Napolitano, and Hillary Clinton in the first two years of the Obama Administration as the basis for more gun control restrictions on law-abiding American citizens. We did not know at the time that the Obama Administration was in face responsible for providing many of those firearms to the Sinaloa cartel in hopes that they would be found to bolster the Administration’s call for gun control.