Operation “Fast and Furious”, a federal sting that went awry when about 2,000 weapons reached Mexican cartels is over. At least that’s what most Americans think. The program continues, albeit with a different name.
Until “Fast and Furious,” Americans knew “very little” about the flow of U.S. firearms to cartels, said Josiah Heyman, an anthropology professor at the University of Texas at El Paso and an expert on violence in Mexico and its relationship to U.S. policy.
In small-town USA, business as usual for Mexican cartels
With U.S. guns flowing south as Mexican drugs come north, violence has thrived as rival cartels wage a growing war for control of smuggling routes FBI analysts recently told CNN.
“More than 68,000 firearms from the United States ended up in Mexico from 2007 and 2011, according to U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives statistics released in April,” they said.
The U.S. weapons arm the cartels’ military wings and enforcers, such as the Juarez Cartel’s enforcement arm, La Linea, or The Line, court documents say. The Juarez Cartel, also known as the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes Organization, controls drug trafficking in the Mexican state of Chihuahua, including Puerto Palomas – a border town south of Columbus, NM — according to the documents.
But since about 2008, the rival Sinaloa Cartel has been challenging the Juarez Cartel, including for control of Puerto Palomas, the records said.
The Columbus trafficking ring smuggled or tried to send more than 200 high-powered firearms, mostly AK-47-style and 9 mm pistols to Mexico, court papers said. Mexican authorities seized at least 12 of the smuggled firearms, including from the murder scenes of five people in Puerto Palomas, U.S. court documents said.
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