Fast and Furious back in headlines as Univision reportedly finds more victims

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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Spanish-language television network Univision plans to air a television special that it said reveals more violence than previously known, as well as the stories of how many more Operation Fast and Furious victims were killed, the network announced in a Friday release.

“The consequences of the controversial ‘Fast and Furious’ undercover operation put in place by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in 2009 have been deadlier than what has been made public to date,” the network said. “The exclusive, in-depth investigation by Univision News’ award-winning Investigative Unit — Univision Investiga — has found that the guns that crossed the border as part of Operation Fast and Furious caused dozens of deaths inside Mexico.”

Among other groups of Fast and Furious victim stories Univision says it will tell in the special to air Sunday evening at 7 p.m., is one about how “16 young people attending a party in a residential area of Ciudad Juárez in January of 2010” were gunned down with weapons the Obama administration gave to drug cartel criminals through Fast and Furious.

“Univision News’ Investigative Unit was also able to identify additional guns that escaped the control of ATF agents and were used in different types of crimes throughout Mexico,” the network added. “Furthermore, some of these guns — none of which were reported by congressional investigators — were put in the hands of drug traffickers in Honduras, Puerto Rico, and Colombia. A person familiar with the recent congressional hearings called Univision’s findings ‘the holy grail’ that Congress had been searching for.”

A video preview published on Friday shows a number of the bodies of people killed with Fast and Furious weapons, as well as victims’ family members pleading with outgoing Mexican President Felipe Calderon for justice.

Congressional investigators from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Senate Judiciary Committee have been probing Fast and Furious since early 2011, shortly after U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered with Fast and Furious weapons. Terry was killed on Dec. 14, 2010, in Peck Canyon, Ariz.

Others whose murders have been connected to Fast and Furious weapons include Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Jaime Zapata and Mexican citizen Mario Gonzalez. Gonzalez’s sister, Patricia Gonzalez, was the state prosecutor for the Mexican state of Chihuahua.

Fast and Furious was a program of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, overseen by Attorney General Eric Holder’s DOJ. It sent thousands of weapons to Mexican drug cartels via straw purchasers — people who purchased guns in the United States with the known intention of illegally trafficking them somewhere else.

Mexican government officials have estimated that at least 300 people in Mexico were killed with Fast and Furious weapons.

Holder and President Barack Barack Obama have obstructed the congressional investigations into this scandal. After months of failure to comply with a subpoena for Fast and Furious documents, information and witnesses, Holder was voted on a bipartisan basis into criminal and civil contempt of Congress. Obama has asserted executive privilege over the documents.

The DOJ’s internal inspector general recently released a report concluding that Holder was not cleared by his currently ongoing investigation, despite a swath of media coverage saying that Holder was “exonerated” by it. Though he did conclude that he couldn’t find evidence or proof Holder knew about Fast and Furious, DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz testified before Congress that almost everyone in Holder’s inner circle at DOJ did know, and that he and his team think it’s odd at best that Holder didn’t.

“We found, as we outlined in the report, we struggle to understand how an operation of this size, of this importance, that impacted another country like it did, could not have been briefed up to the attorney general of the United States,” Horowitz said during a House oversight committee hearing. “It should have been, in our view. It was that kind of a case.”

Former White House National Security Council staffer Kevin O’Reilly — who was intimately involved in Fast and Furious planning with Phoenix ATF officials, according to emails obtained throughout the congressional investigation — has since been reassigned by the Department of State to a detail in Iraq. Obama administration officials have refused to make O’Reilly available to congressional investigators and to Horowitz’s internal DOJ investigation.

On Friday, CBS News’ Sharyl Attkisson reported that congressional Republicans are now threatening to subpoena O’Reilly and force his testimony on Fast and Furious.

Univision has aggressively covered Fast and Furious, and its most recent major run-in with the scandal came when network anchor Jorge Ramos grilled Obama in an interview on the scandal, asking him why he hasn’t “fired” Holder. During the interview, Obama made at least one false statement relating to Fast and Furious.

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