Mexico: descent into chaosAnother ATF program in Mexico comes under fire

Published 15 March 2011

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has launched several program aimed at slowing down the flow of American weapons into Mexico; some of these programs are more successful than others; the latest program to come under fire is Operation Fast and Furious; Mexican lawmakers charge that under the program, American weapons were allowed into Mexico, where the ATF lost track of them; some of these lost weapons are responsible for 150 killings

A Mexican lawmaker claims at least 150 countrymen were killed or wounded by guns purchased through an undercover U.S. drug and weapons operation.

Humberto Benitez Trevino, a member of Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies, said the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives program called Operation Fast and Furious was responsible and he has called for an investigation, the Los Angeles Times reported.

We have 150 cases of injuries and homicides with arms that were smuggled and passed illegally into our country,” Benitez said. “This was an undercover program that wasn’t properly controlled.”

The ATF acknowledged at least 195 weapons sold in Arizona under the program were recovered in Mexico.

Mexican lawmakers want to know whether Mexican authorities were aware of the U.S. operation.

This is a serious violation of international law,” said Carlos Ramirez Marin, president of the Chamber of Deputies. “What happens if next time they need to introduce trained assassins or nuclear weapons?”

UPI reports that U.S. officials said they lost track of hundreds of weapons because of manpower shortages. The weapons included handguns, fully automatic rifles, and a .50-caliber sniper weapon.

U.S. Attorney General Erich H. Holder Jr. said he is deeply concerned about the program and the concern of the Mexican government. He said he has asked the inspector general to “get to the bottom of it.”

I’ve also made clear to people in the department that letting guns walk … is not something that is acceptable,” Holder said.