Saturday, March 5, 2011

This One Before, Part 1

We begin with excerpts ICE Agents Shot in Mexico Were Targeted, Ambushed, Law Enforcement Source Claims, from February 15, 2011:

The agents were driving a black SUV with diplomatic plates. After their vehicle was stopped, with the road in front of them and behind them blocked off (a tactic typically employed by professional assassins), several armed men dressed in black approached the agents' SUV.

The men, according to the source, are presumed to be members of Los Zetas — a paramilitary narco-trafficking organization that counts among its leadership former elite members of the Mexican military.

As the armed men walked toward the ICE agents' SUV, they motioned the agent in the driver seat to roll down his window, according to the source, recounting the initial reports from the scene.

"He did a little, and that's when they opened fire," the source reports. "The windows on the SUV are dark, so it is my opinion that they wanted make sure they had the right people."

From an update to the same article, only hours later:

New information has just come in concerning the background and alleged mission of the two ICE agents who were shot in Mexico earlier today.

Additional law enforcement sources have weighed in on the story and contend that the two ICE agents were on what one described as an under-the-radar mission that involved transporting a box containing an unknown payload, though it is suspected that the box contained weapons. The two agents were expecting to meet up with another group of agents to exchange the box, the law enforcers contend.

"So they were either tailed or there's a mole somewhere who tipped them [the Zetas] off to the operation," a law enforcement source told Narco News.

That same source described the box transfer operation as being very unusual and possibly part of some kind of "black op" — meaning it might have dovetailed with an intelligence operation.

The new information also contradicts the original information reported by Narco News in some areas. The law enforcement sources contend that is because a cover story had to be created and it is now starting to intersect with the real story.

For example, the information now coming in, which is from several law enforcement sources, indicates the agents were not involved in any type of training operations, but rather that was a cover for their trip. In addition, in the latest version of events, the agents who were shot were driving north from Mexico City heading toward Monterrey when they were ambushed by the Zetas.


The details of the ambush are essentially the same as originally reported. However, the new information coming into Narco News includes a few more details, such as the fact that the windows on the SUV were bullet proof.

"When the agent on the passenger side rolled down his window, the unknown male [the alleged Zeta] pulled a gun and started firing through the crack in the window, hitting the passenger in the chest, and other areas, while the driver was hit in the arm and leg," a law enforcement source says.

It looks to me like these guys were ratted out. Definite intelligence was passed to the assailants, who knew the agents were expecting some kind of rendezvous. The uncertainty whether the roadblock was some kind of coincidence or possibly the rendezvous itself may have been intended to get the agents to put the bullet proof windows down enough to allow the assailants to fire inside the vehicle.

Subsequent reporting can be found in ICE Agent's Murder In Mexico Could Become a Cold Case, February 19, 2011:

Although the details of the attack vary, even at this point, depending on which news outlet you read, Narco News' early reporting on the crime, by any reasonable measure, has stood the test of time — and the barrage of mainstream media reports that have been published since.

That even includes Narco News' revelation, since re-reported by the Associated Press, that the two ICE agents left Mexico City in an armored SUV with diplomatic plates the day of the attack to deliver some unknown equipment to another team of ICE agents from Monterrey — who had arranged to meet Zapata and Avila at a midway point between the two Mexican cities.

A source familiar with the attack has since told Narco News that the cargo being transported by the ICE agents was communications equipment, nothing worth killing over — but possibly just sensitive enough so that it could not be transported via commercial airline. That same source also revealed some important new details about the assault on the agents.

Perhaps the killing was not about the equipment, but more about sending a message.

Or, perhaps the agents were marked for assassination - the transportation of the equipment was just a pretext to get them out where someone could take a shot at them.

Were these two agents specifically targeted, or was the intent merely to kill any two agents?

An autopsy was performed in Mexico on the body of the agent who got killed; there was then discussion of flying the body to Houston for a second autopsy, but Houston authorities refused to do a second autopsy.

"The reason the Houston people probably didn't want to do another autopsy is they are likely afraid the first one was already screwed up in Mexico, and they didn't want to complicate matters [by doing yet another autopsy]," the DEA source said. "There's probably some rounds [bullets] missing [from the body], or at least there's likely no way of knowing [which creates a big chain-of-evidence hurdle for prosecutors in any U.S. criminal case]."

An important point to note is that the Zetas were founded by former military special-forces members, including soldiers from an elite Mexican unit, and they continue to recruit members of the Mexican military, as well as law enforcement, into their ranks. As a result, if any of the bullets used in the attack were to trace back to Mexican soldiers or law enforcers, the political blowback — not to mention conspiracy concerns — from such a link would create shock waves for political leadership on both sides of the border.

One ICE source told Narco News that U.S. government officials had asked Mexican officials for the courtesy of allowing the autopsy to be performed in the U.S. and were quite angry when they discovered that request was simply ignored.

This stinks of a cover-up. Corrupt Mexican authorities are involved, but so are corrupt American authorities at very high levels.

Given that the ICE agent who was killed, Zapata, presumably had diplomatic status in Mexico, then the U.S. government should have had some say on where the autopsy was performed, adds the former DEA agent

"It sounds like the State Department might not have done its job in demanding that the body be turned over to the U.S.," the former DEA agent says.

And so, we can see already signs of a breakdown in the investigation into the murder of ICE agent Zapata, due to a failure of U.S. officials to keep their eye on the ball due to turf wars, political grandstanding and bureaucratic incompetence.

When caught, they will plead guilty to political grandstanding and bureaucratic incompetence - it beats the hell out of pleading guilty to what they are really guilty of.

The keystone cop routine now seemingly playing out on both sides of the border in the aftermath of the ICE agent's murder could well be a byproduct of the Alice-in-Wonderland nature of the drug war, according to another former DEA agent with years of experience doing undercover work, including in Latin America:

Mexico is through the looking glass, and the powers that be on this side of that glass, for very apparent reasons (alas. not apparent to mainstream media) do not want anything to happen that would damage that country's financial stability.

That means cover-up the truth about the depth and extent of the corruption, and above all, do not damage the Mexican drug economy....

If that analysis is correct, it seems rival narco-trafficking organizations may actually do more to solve this murder case than the U.S. or Mexican governments.


From ATF gun running scheme finally getting scrutinized... Now there is no question that ATF "walked" guns were found at the murder site of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, March 5, 2011 (note the nested link and blockquote):

Imagine you are Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry's family ... and at first everyone denied your loved one was not required to use bean bag rounds and that turned out to be a lie.

...And you had no idea that 2 AK 47s found at his murder scene were actually allowed to "walk" into the hands of the killers by the ATF....

Arizona Republic March 5, 2011:

ATF Mexican gun-smuggling sting scrutinized
Agency accused of losing track of guns that wound up with drug cartels
by Dennis Wagner – Mar. 5, 2011 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

Newly released U.S. records and assertions by a government whistle-blower support allegations that government agents allowed hundreds of firearms to be smuggled across the Arizona border and into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.

The records, released by a member of Congress, have prompted the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to call for an independent review of a campaign designed to dismantle Mexican crime syndicates that purportedly wound up arming them instead.

The Arizona Republic reported last month that investigators have confirmed that two weapons connected to the ATF operations were found at the scene of a December gunbattle near Rio Rico, Ariz., where Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed by suspected border bandits.

Records detail deadly Border Patrol shooting in Arizona

The controversy has engulfed Project Gun Runner, an ATF enforcement campaign. This week, the Center for Public Integrity and CBS News interviewed an ATF agent whose revelations about being instructed to let guns pass into Mexico are likely to accelerate a congressional investigation of the scandal.

Justice Department authorities and their counterparts in Mexico have complained for years that cartel violence is fueled in part by a flood of weapons, mostly AK-47s, purchased in the United States and smuggled unlawfully across the border.

Project Gun Runner was created in 2006 to combat that threat in Arizona by identifying and prosecuting firearms traffickers.

Dozens of so-called straw buyers have been arrested, and more than 10,000 guns confiscated. However, the ATF came in for criticism from the Justice Department's Office of Inspector General last year because Project Gun Runner was catching only the straw buyers – small fish in the smuggling business.

Here's what stinks about all this.

As I pointed out in a previous post, the weapons that are being used by increasingly militarized Mexican organized crime cartels are heavy, military-style weapons bought on the international black market, or stolen from the Mexican government itself. The idea that heavy machineguns, rocket launchers, hand grenades and other kinds of similar weapons are being bought in US gunshops and smuggled across the border is absurd.

Of all the weapons captured by Mexican authorities - and those weapons include real military-style heavy weapons - only several thousand are submitted to US authorities for tracing. Of those, a little more than half are traceable. Of those that are traceable, 90% come from the US.

This is actually a small percentage of the total weapons seized, though, and it is the least lethal percentage.

Yet, to counter this, we have a program to trace the flow of weapons across the border.

And, the program actually facilitates the flow of weapons in order to have something to trace; then, a few low-level guys are busted for running guns.

And, US public servants, who carry badges and who try to protect our country, are being sold out, and die in this charade.

As I look into this "Project Gunrunner" scheme, and what is happening along our southern border, I am encountering a fierce army of TiNRATs.

Now, where have I seen...?

No comments:

Post a Comment