A new development could renew interest in the already mysterious Fast and Furious gun-walking operation that ultimately led to the death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
A high-ranking Mexican drug cartel operative currently in U.S. custody is making startling allegations that the failed federal operation wasn’t about tracking guns, it was about supplying them — all part of an elaborate agreement between the U.S. government and Mexico’s powerful Sinaloa Cartel to take down rival cartels.
Jason Howerton at The Blaze reports Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla, known as the Sinaloa Cartel’s logistics coordinator, claims that under a “divide and conquer” strategy, “the U.S. helped finance and arm the Sinaloa Cartel through Operation Fast and Furious in exchange for information that allowed the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other federal agencies to take down rival drug cartels. The Sinaloa Cartel was allegedly permitted to traffic massive amounts of drugs across the U.S. border as long as the intel kept coming.”
Charged with cocaine and heroin trafficking, Zambada is claiming he was an informant for the DEA, and was given immunity from prosecution at the top level of government. If proven in court, such an agreement between U.S. law enforcement agencies and a top Mexican drug cartel could potentially mar both the Bush and Obama administrations. But the federal government is denying all of Zambada’s allegations and contend that no official immunity deal was agreed upon.
Zambada claims the agreement was “known and approved” by the Justice Department and is seeking to have all charges tossed arguing he took over the role of “primary liaison on behalf of the Sinaloa Cartel with the United States government,” according to Reuters.
Based on the alleged agreement, “the Sinaloa Cartel under the leadership of defendant’s father, Ismael Zambada-Niebla and Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman, were given carte blanche to continue to smuggle tons of illicit drugs into Chicago and the rest of the United States and were also protected by the United States government from arrest and prosecution in return for providing information against rival cartels which helped Mexican and United States authorities capture or kill thousands of rival cartel members,” states a motion for discovery filed in U.S. District Court by Zambada’s attorney in July 2011.
Zambada is currently confined to a cell in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago awaiting trial that’s been delayed but now scheduled to start on Oct. 9.
A source in Congress, who spoke to The Blaze on the condition of anonymity, said that some top congressional investigators have been keeping “one eye on the case.” Another two members of Congress, both lead Fast and Furious Congressional investigators, told The Blaze they had not heard this story yet.
One of the Congressmen, who also spoke to The Blaze on the condition of anonymity because criminal proceedings are still ongoing, called the allegations “disturbing.” He said Congress will likely get involved once Zambada’s trial has concluded if any compelling information surfaces.
“Congress won’t get involved in really any criminal case until the trial is over and the smoke has cleared,” he added. “If the allegations prove to hold any truth, there will be some serious legal ramifications.”
The trial won’t conclude nearly in time before the election. Once it’s over, congressional investigators will then have to determine if there is sufficient evidence to warrant any further action against Attorney General Eric Holder.
President Barack Obama has already stopped the federal investigation into Fast and Furious dead in its tracks by exercising “executive privilege” to prevent Holder from having to hand over internal Justice Department documents on the allegedly botched operation. Holder, of course, has publicly denied that he had any knowledge of the operation prior to Terry’s death. And while the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted 23-17 to hold Holder in contempt of Congress, that’s as far as it went once Obama stepped in.
If what Zambada is saying holds truth, and can be proven in court, Holder will then be caught having lied about denying any knowledge of Fast and Furious. The whole scandal is an episode that’s playing out eerily similar to the way the infamous Watergate scandal plagued the Nixon administration of the 1970s (only this scandal involves a death). The Bush administration would also share some responsibility for this as it was started under its tenure.
Then of course, there could also be the possibility that Zambata is saying whatever it takes to strike a plea deal or reduce his sentence before the trial begins.
Whatever comes of this new allegation will all depend on what evidence Zambata can provide and what can be proven in court. No one can jump to conclusions until Zambata offers something more concrete.
Still, should be interesting to follow in the coming months.