The existence of Operation Fast and Furious, the Obama-era program that allowed thousands of U.S.-sold firearms to be trafficked to Mexican drug cartels, was first disclosed to the American people in early 2011, more than a month after U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in the line of duty by a smuggler who used one of the trafficked firearms in his attack. Nearly a decade later, officials with the Mexican government are demanding to if the Obama administration and then-Attorney General Eric Holder ever informed Mexican authorities about the operation before it began or while it was taking place.
Mexico Foreign Minister Ebrard has now sent a note to the U.S. embassy in Mexico City seeking answers about the scandalous operation. The move comes days after President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador spoke out publicly about the gunrunning operation, seeking to pin some of the responsibility for the operation on former president Felipe Calderon. Over the weekend, claimed in a thread on Twitter that to the best of his knowledge, no one in the Mexican government had been informed about the details of the operation. Instead, he says Mexican authorities were simply told that the Obama administration was launching a new project aimed at cutting off gun traffickers helping to arm the drug cartels.
The current Mexican government has zeroed in on the program to highlight possible corruption under previous Mexican administrations amid a debate over how much they knew about the U.S. operation.
Holder, who served as U.S. Attorney General under Barack Obama between 2009 and 2015, had previously issued a statement via the U.S. embassy in Mexico contending that “Mexican authorities” knew about the program, Ebrard said.
“The (Mexican) government requests that it be provided with all the information available regarding the ‘Fast and Furious’ operation,” Ebrard said in the video posted on Twitter.
Lopez Obrador first brought up the gun-running program last Monday when answering questions about Genaro Garcia Luna, a former Mexican security minister who was arrested in the United States in December on drug trafficking offenses.
Garcia Luna served under former President Felipe Calderon from 2006-12, spearheading a crackdown on drug cartels. Lopez Obrador has used his arrest to argue that corruption was rampant in past Mexican governments.
As Reuters notes, the re-emergence of the scandal isn’t just having an impact on politics in Mexico, but it could spill over into the race for president here in the United States as well.
Some critics of Lopez Obrador contend that he has done U.S. President Donald Trump a favor by raising questions about Garcia Luna as the U.S president prepares to fight a November election against Joe Biden, who was vice president from 2009 to 2017 under Obama.
Lopez Obrador’s supporters say he has focused on the issue to illustrate hypocrisy among his domestic adversaries.
Calderon, a longstanding political rival of Lopez Obrador, said last week there was no agreement between Mexico and the United States to permit illicit entry of arms.
Biden has claimed that there wasn’t a “hint of scandal” during the Obama administration, conveniently ignoring Operation Fast and Furious and its aftermath. To the best of my knowledge, Biden has never publicly discussed the operation and whether or not he approved of the plan to allow thousands of guns to end up in the hands of drug cartel members. As for Eric Holder, he’s claimed that the Mexican government had been informed of the operation beforehand, but has provided no details, including naming any Mexican officials who supposedly had knowledge of the operation.
I hope the Trump administration offers their full cooperation to the Mexican government in getting to the bottom of the unanswered questions surrounding Operation Fast and Furious. Yes, it makes sense politically for Trump to remind voters of the scandal, as well as Biden’s silence as details of the operation dripped out over a period of years thanks to investigations by the House and Senate oversight committees. Trump can and should hammer Biden for the complicity in the Obama adminstration’s arming of Mexican drug cartels and the violence it helped to create on both sides of the border, but there’s also a moral element to the current administration helping to find answers to the questions that still remain. Both the Mexican and American public deserve to know if the Obama administration kept the Mexican government in the dark as it supplied drug cartels with firearms, and if we have to depend on Eric Holder to come clean, we’re likely to never get the answers we need.