Issa demands info from Holder after report that Justice smuggled millions to cartels

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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House oversight committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa announced late Monday that he’s expanding his probe into the Justice Department’s questionable gun-walking programs to include drug money the Drug Enforcement Agency reportedly helped smuggle into the hands of the drug cartels in Mexico.

The New York Times reported on Sunday that “in operations supervised by the Justice Department and orchestrated to get around sovereignty restrictions” drug enforcement agents “laundered or smuggled millions of dollars in drug proceeds as part of Washington’s expanding role in Mexico’s fight against drug cartels.”

In a Monday letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Issa announced he’s investigating the allegations made against the DEA in the New York Times article.

“As you are fully aware, since March of this year, I have been investigating the reckless tactics — in particular gunwalking — used in ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious,” Issa wrote. “That operation, which you personally acknowledged was ‘fundamentally flawed,’ failed spectacularly to meet its objective of bring down Mexican drug cartels. Precisely because the ends do not justify the means, the law limits the conduct alleged in this story.”

“Apparently, this same goal of dismantling Mexican drug cartels motivated the Drug Enforcement Administration in aiding and abetting these same cartels in laundering millions of dollars in cash,” Issa continued. “In fact, The New York Times reports that agents needed to seek Department approval to launder amounts greater than $10 million in any single operation.”

Issa wrote that, according to the report, many agents said the $10 million requirement was frequently “waived” because it was treated more like a guideline. He said that means “hundreds of millions of dollars” could’ve been “laundered” into the hands of drug cartels by the Obama administration and Holder’s Justice Department.

The news of this DEA operation comes as 52 congressmen, three U.S. senators, four presidential candidates and two sitting governors are demanding Holder’s immediate resignation over Fast and Furious. Issa hasn’t called for Holder to resign, but has made comments that suggest he may soon. For instance, in his Monday letter to Holder, he questions the attorney general’s “leadership” at the DOJ.

“The existence of such a program again calls your leadership into question,” Issa wrote to Holder. “The managerial structure you have implemented lacks appropriate operational safeguards to prevent the implementation of such dangerous schemes. The consequences have been disastrous.”

“It is almost unfathomable to contemplate the degree to which the United States Government has made itself an accomplice to the Mexican drug trade, which has thus far left more than 40,000 people dead in Mexico since December 2006,” Issa continued.

Issa demands Holder provide his staff with a briefing on the DEA operations before Wednesday at 5 p.m., as Holder is testifying before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday morning. Issa said it is “imperative” that Congress receive all the details of these operations “immediately.”

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