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

GULF CARTEL / 15 MAR 2022

Mexican armed forces have captured the reported leader of the feared Northeast Cartel, but this arrest may only stoke further…

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 11 JUN 2021

Over seven million rounds of ammunition were stolen by an unknown armed group in central Mexico this week, a record-breaking…

COCAINE / 6 MAY 2022

The US has offered a $5 million reward for information leading to the arrest of leaders of the Montes Bobadilla…

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…