Mexico asks U.S. for answers over historic “operation fast and furious” gun-running sting

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is still seeking answers over the Obama-era “fast and furious” gun-running sting.

Per Wikipedia, as a result of a dispute over the release of Justice Department documents related to the scandal, Attorney General Eric Holder became the first sitting member of the Cabinet of the United States to be held in contempt of Congress on June 28, 2012, in a vote largely along party lines in a Republican-controlled House.

At Holder’s request, President Barack Obama had invoked executive privilege for the first time in his presidency in order to withhold documents that “were not generated in the course of the conduct of Fast and Furious.” In 2016, a federal court ruled that the records in question were not covered by privilege; however, a House lawsuit to try to recover the records is still pending in federal court.

Yahoo reports Mexico’s president on Friday urged the United States to shed light on a gun-running sting that caused bilateral friction under the Obama presidency, questioning the behavior of past U.S. administrations for the third time this week.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said his government would send a diplomatic note to Washington for information on the 2009-2011 operation known as ‘Fast and Furious,’ a topic that has resurfaced in recent days amid a debate over historic U.S.-Mexico cooperation on security and possible corruption under previous administrations.

Setting out to stop cross-border gun smuggling, the U.S. scheme allowed people to illegally buy arms in the United States and take them to Mexico so that the weapons could be tracked and lead law enforcement officials to drug cartel bosses. Some weapons were later blamed for gangland slayings in Mexico.

“How could this be? A government that invades in this way, that flagrantly violates sovereignty, international laws,” Lopez Obrador said at his daily news conference.

To avoid a repeat, the matter needed to be cleared up, said Lopez Obrador, who noted that President Donald Trump had last year been “respectful” to Mexico in discussions over joint co-operation following two major security incidents.

Mexican politicians are still arguing over how much its government knew about ‘Fast and Furious’ at the time.

Lopez Obrador brought up the gun-running scheme on Monday when discussing the case of Genaro Garcia Luna, Mexico’s security minister from 2006-12, who was arrested in the United States in December and charged with drug-trafficking offenses. As security minister, Garcia Luna had spearheaded a crackdown on drug gangs, launched under former President Felipe Calderon.

Roberta Jacobson, a former American ambassador to Mexico appointed under U.S. President Barack Obama, had suggested both governments knew about possible corruption by Garcia Luna in an interview with Mexican magazine Proceso published at the weekend.

Lopez Obrador has used the arrest of Garcia Luna to argue that corruption was rampant in past Mexican governments.

But this week he has also asked whether previous U.S. administrations were complicit by working with Garcia Luna, whose period as minister coincided with Obama’s first term in office and the final years of George W. Bush.

Last week, Newsweek reported López Obrador said there is “still time” for current leaders of the U.S. federal government to apologize for the 2009-2011 border-crossing scheme which intended to trace firearm sales to Mexican drug cartel bosses. But the operation backfired after several weapons sold by U.S. law enforcement were tied to murders throughout Mexico.

On Monday, López Obrador first brought up the U.S. gun-running sting while discussing potential corruption tied to the drug trafficking arrest of Genaro Garcia Luna, Mexico’s security minister between 2006 and 2012.

“What seems serious to me is that a violation of our sovereignty was carried out, a secret operation, and that Mexicans were killed with these weapons,” Lopez Obrador said during a press conference in Mexico City on Friday. “There is still time for the U.S. to apologize.”

The Mexican president urged his predecessor, Felipe Calderón, to also explain Mexico’s involvement in “Fast and Furious,” particularly any corruption that may have occurred during his 2006-2012 tenure in office. On Twitter, Calderón replied on Thursday that his government played no part in the botched operation. An exchange between the two last week highlighted the country’s rising number of homicides during López Obrador’s administration. Since taking office, his focus has remained on fighting the poverty which leads to crime rather than the aggressive military crackdown on the drug cartels which was preferred by Calderon’s government.

Mexico Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard announced he would follow up with a letter to the U.S. in their latest request for more detailed information about the decade-old operation inside their border. A former American ambassador to Mexico, Roberta Jacobson, has previously suggested that both the U.S. and Mexican governments were aware of potential corruption tied to Garcia Luna, Mexico’s ex-security minister. He was arrested in Texas by U.S. federal agents last December on drug trafficking and bribery charges.

Last Monday, Lopez Obrador said U.S. officials with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) should be investigated for potential cooperation with Garcia Luna. All three federal agencies did not respond for comment by Saturday afternoon.

“How could this be? A government that invades in this way, that flagrantly violates sovereignty, international laws,” Lopez Obrador added Friday. “We have to shine light on this so that an action of this type will never be carried out again.”