Operation Fast & Furious: ATF Let Guns Go to Cartels (Gunwalking)
ATF Allowed American Weapons to be Sold to Mexican Drug Gangs
Congress is examining a spectacularly flawed ATF operation, in which the agency allowed weapons sold by American gun dealers to make their way into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. The reasoning behind "Operation Fast and Furious" was to prevent law enforcement agents from intercepting gun smugglers, instead waiting to see where these weapons surfaced.
Hint: In the hands of Mexican drug cartels. Because the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms allowed it to happen.
The strategy is called "gunwalking". Another way of putting it is "willingly letting drug cartels get hold of guns." What happens when drug cartels get hold of guns? Those of you who guessed "they shoot people" are correct.
If you're thinking, "this is the stupidest crime-prevention policy I've ever heard", you aren't alone. Congress isn't thrilled about Operation Fast and Furious, either.
Indeed, some of the weapons sold by Americans to Mexican drug gangs (which are waging war over access to the American drug market) were found at the scene of a shootout which left US border patrol agent Brian Terry dead.
You can read the Congressional review of Operation Fast and Furious in its entirety (pdf). Note that a Congressional review will not get US-sold assault weapons back from the cartels. They're there for good. Even as I type this, I wonder how anyone could ever, under any circumstances, think that sending guns to drug cartels was a good idea, or could end in anything other than disaster.
As it pursued its "catch the bigger fish" strategy, the ATF seemed genuinely unaware that guns shoot bullets, and that those bullets end up in people, and that those people tend to die. This is not a difficult concept to grasp, really: just ask anyone who lives in Sinaloa.