Mexican reaction to Fast & Furious
The Office of the General Prosecutor in Mexico is seeking the extradition of six citizens of the United States implicated with smuggling weapons from the operation. Three of the requested citizens for extradition are from Madera, California, while the other three are from the state of Texas. The current Attorney General of Mexico, Marisela Morales, said the PGR will search “to the end” in order to clarify what happened in Fast and Furious.
The ATF’s “gunwalking” operations were deliberately kept secret from the Mexican government, even after related firearms began to be found at violent crime scenes and in criminal arsenals in 2010 and 2011. When they were told in January 2011 that there was an undercover program in existence, they still were not given details. Mexican politicians expressed widespread anger at the operations as information developed in 2011. Mexican officials stated in September that the US government still had not briefed them on what went wrong nor had they apologized.
Mexican Senator Arturo Escobar stated, “We can no longer tolerate what is occurring. There must be condemnation from the state,” and that the Mexican Senate condemned the actions of the ATF.
Jorge Carlos Ramírez Marín, president of the Chamber of Deputies of Mexico from the Institutional Revolutionary Party, said “This is a serious violation of international law. What happens if next time they need to introduce trained assassins or nuclear weapons?”
Attorney General of Mexico Marisela Morales, well-liked by US law enforcement, said, “At no time did we know or were we made aware that there might have been arms trafficking permitted. In no way would we have allowed it, because it is an attack on the safety of Mexicans.” In addition, she expressed that allowing weapons to “walk” would represent a “betrayal” of Mexico.
Chihuahua state prosecutor Patricia Gonzalez, who had worked closely with the US for years, said, “The basic ineptitude of these officials [who ordered the Fast and Furious operation] caused the death of my brother and surely thousands more victims.” Her brother, Mario, had been kidnapped, tortured and killed by cartel hit men in fall 2010. It was later revealed that his killers owned AK-pattern rifles traced to Fast and Furious.
Some Mexican officials were more circumspect. For example, Mexican Congressman Humberto Benítez Treviño, a former attorney general, called Fast and Furious “a bad business that got out of hand.” He had also characterized it as “an undercover program that wasn’t properly controlled.”
Like many politicians, Mexican pundits across the political spectrum expressed anger at news of the operations. La Jornada, a left-leaning newspaper, asked “US: ally or enemy?” The paper also argued that the Mérida Initiative should be immediately suspended. A right-leaning paper accused the US of violating Mexican sovereignty.
Manuel J. Jauregui of the Reforma newspaper wrote, “In sum, the gringo (American) government has been sending weapons to Mexico in a premeditated and systematic manner, knowing that their destinations were Mexican criminal organizations.”