HomeNewsBrief'Fast and Furious' Op Targeted FBI Informants: Report
BRIEF

'Fast and Furious' Op Targeted FBI Informants: Report

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 22 MAR 2012 BY CHRISTOPHER LOOFT EN

The US's controversial "Fast and Furious" anti-arms trafficking operation targeted two drug bosses who were already cooperating with the FBI, according to official documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

When Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agents released suspected gun trafficker Manuel Fabian Celis-Acosta (pictured) in hopes that he would lead them to two cartel bosses, they did not know their targets were actually FBI informants.

Celis-Acosta was detained in May 2010 on the Arizona border carrying an AK-47 style drum magazine and documents pointing to arms sales and payments to an apparent hitman. According to internal memos made available to the LA Times, ATF agent Hope McAllister, lead investigator in the controversial Fast and Furious operation, wrote her phone number on a $10 bill for Celis-Acosta and released him. He had promised to help her catch two high-level Mexican cartel bosses, but he never contacted her again.

When Celis-Acosta was arrested again in February 2011 -- a month after Fast and Furious ended -- ATF officials realized that their two targets had been cooperating with the FBI.

The Times reports that both the ATF and DEA investigated Celis-Acosta simultaneously at one point, each apparently not knowing of the other's operations. While the ATF was monitoring Celis-Acosta with a clandestine pole camera outside his home in Phoenix, the DEA was listening to his communications with a wiretap system.

InSight Crime Analysis

The lack of communication between the law enforcement agencies involved in the Celis-Acosta case illustrates the difficulty the US has in pursuing Mexican drug trafficking organizations through a variety of government agencies and departments, despite the public emphasis US authorities place on intelligence sharing.

This revelation is also the latest controversy stemming from the Fast and Furious operation, which allowed the sale of thousands of firearms to illegal purchasers in an attempt to trace gun-smuggling routes by Mexican drug gangs. The fallout from the scandal has had wide ranging implications on both sides of the border, with US lawmakers concerned about a lack of oversight and Mexican officials accusing the US of being careless about the impact the arms would have in their country.

Fueling the outrage in both countries is the fact that many of the guns sold in the operation were later used in crimes, including the December 2010 murder of a US Border Patrol official.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

ARGENTINA / 18 MAR 2015

Police in the Buenos Aires province of Argentina lose a firearm every 48 hours, according to a report from a…

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 17 FEB 2012

Ecuador's military seized 170 firearms in the south of the country, raising the issue once again of the country's importance…

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 14 AUG 2017

New US government data tracking the international flow of firearms provides additional evidence that guns remain a driving force…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution Met With Uproar

6 MAY 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime launched its latest investigation, Venezuela’s Cocaine Revolution¸ accompanied by a virtual panel on its findings. The takeaways from this three-year effort, including the fact that Venezuela…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…