Mexico is conducting its own inquiry into the failed gun-tracking investigation “Fast and Furious,” with the country’s ambassador to the United States asserting that the American operation showed “an outstanding lack of understanding of how criminal organizations are operating on both sides of our common borders.”
Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan said last week in Washington that the operation — which has prompted a divisive congressional investigation — has “poisoned the wellsprings” in Mexico, straining U.S.-Mexico relations, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.
Sarukhan said Mexican officials were not aware of Fast and Furious and other operations aimed at stopping gun smuggling on the border. In Fast and Furious, which was run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and overseen by the Justice Department, the authorities tracked some 2,000 guns purchased by straw-buyers in an attempt to trace and apprehend gun smugglers working for drug cartels.
The investigation backfired, however, and ATF lost track of hundreds of guns, two of which were found at the scene of a 2010 shootout between U.S. Border Patrol agents and Mexican bandits. Border patrol agent Brian Terry was killed in the gunfire.
“Mexico was never apprised how the operation would be designed and implemented,” Sarukhan said in the L.A. Times report. ”Regardless of whether this was or was not the intent or the design of Fast and Furious, the thinking that you can let guns walk across the border and maintain operational control of those weapons is really an outstanding lack of understanding of how these criminal organizations are operating on both sides of our common borders.”
Fast and Furious has prompted a fiery back-and-forth between House Republicans and Justice Department leadership. House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has threatened Attorney General Eric Holder with contempt of Congress if the department does not hand over additional documents related to the investigation. The DOJ has said it cannot disclose everything the committee is asking for because to do so could taint the integrity of ongoing criminal investigations.