American Proscenium

A Corrupt Bargain

Careful readers have long suspected that the ATF’s “Operation Fast and Furious” was about something more sinister than bureaucratic ineptitude and Department of Justice stonewalling.  The ATF allowed arms dealers in Arizona and New Mexico to sell weapons to individuals working for Mexican drug cartels in order, the DOJ claimed, to trace the movement of the weapons and thereby gain valuable intelligence on drug-trafficking organizations.  Republicans in Congress have focused on who authorized the sale and whether Attorney General Eric Holder knew about it beforehand, but have left unasked the more important question of whether the DOJ is lying about the purpose of the sale and concealing the policy behind it.

The federal trial of Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla is providing evidence of more than the defendant’s guilt.  Zambada-Niebla is claiming that he had an agreement with U.S. authorities to provide actionable information on other cartels in exchange for immunity.  He also claims that this agreement extended to the entire leadership of the Sinaloa drug cartel, for which he was purported to be head of logistics.  The DOJ has now confirmed that such an agreement did exist.  According to the testimony of Justice Department prosecutor Patrick Hearn, “DEA agents met with members of the cartel in Mexico to obtain information about their rivals...

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