Report: Drug cartel used Fast and Furious weapon in failed assassination plot
Drug cartel operatives used weapons from Operation Fast and Furious in a failed attempt to assassinate a high-ranking Mexican law enforcement official, the El Paso Times reports in an article that follows up on an initial report from Breitbart News’ Mary Chastain.
The gun — which “was seized in Tijuana in connection with a drug cartel’s conspiracy to kill the police chief of Tijuana, Baja California, who later became the Juárez police chief” — is tied to Fast and Furious.
“The firearm was found Feb. 25, 2010, during an arrest of a criminal cell associated with Teodoro ‘El Teo’ García Simental and Raydel ‘El Muletas’ López Uriarte, allies of the Sinaloa cartel,” Diana Washington Valdez wrote on Monday for the El Paso Times. “Tijuana police said they arrested four suspects in March 2010 in connection with a failed attempt to take out Julián Leyzaola, and that the suspects allegedly confessed to conspiring to assassinate the police chief on orders from Tijuana cartel leaders.”
“Leyzaola, a retired Mexican army officer, reportedly survived several attempts on his life while trying to bring order to Tijuana, a city torn apart by turf battles following the arrests and deaths of Arellano Felix cartel leaders,” Valdez added.
Leyzaola has since moved to Ciudad Juarez, a town right across the border from El Paso, Texas, to become the police chief there.
This new information comes on the heels of the release of a lengthy congressional report into Fast and Furious from House oversight committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa and Sen. Chuck Grassley. That report — the first of three — named five Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives officials Grassley and Issa believe are ultimately responsible for Fast and Furious. On the same day of the report’s public release, one of those officials — former deputy ATF director William Hoover — resigned his position.
That congressional report also saw the release of new evidence that Obama administration ATF officials sought to cover up the Fast and Furious connection to a death other than that of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.
Mario Gonzalez, the brother of then-Mexican prosecutor Patricia Gonzalez, was killed with Fast and Furious weapons in early November 2010. According to internal ATF emails congressional investigators obtained and released in this report, one ATF agent had discovered that two of the guns found at Mario Gonzalez’s murder scene were Fast and Furious weapons.
That agent, Tonya English, emailed her supervisors David Voth and Hope MacCallister asking them to “not release any information” on the Fast and Furious connection to that murder.
House Republicans are gearing up their lawsuit against President Barack Obama’s assertion of executive privilege to withhold Fast and Furious documents from Congress and the American people. Because the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia has refused to enforce the congressional citation finding Attorney General Eric Holder in criminal contempt of Congress, the House is moving on the civil contempt of Congress resolution. That civil contempt resolution allows the House to fight the president’s privilege claim in court.
Issa recently said he’s “100 percent” confident a federal judge will force Obama to cough up the documents.