Mexico: News of US Clandestine Operation Draws “Fast and Furious” Response

This post is part of our special coverage Mexico's Drug War.

Recent Twitter searches under the twin hashtags #estadofallido [es] and #failedstate turned up a tweet in common that bore news of a scandal that continues to unfold. On March 26, 2011, Pedro Lara (@Lohomabe) signaled the breaking story:

Rapido y furioso se autorizo en Washington, revela ex jefe de ATF #LaJornada y #CBS #estadofallido #failedstate

Fast and furious authorized in Washington, says former head of ATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] #LaJornada and #CBS #estadofallido #failedstate

The link provided by Lara yields a report [es] in the Mexican daily La Jornada. The article followed up on a series of investigative reports by Sharyl Attkisson of the American broadcast network CBS that included an interview with Darren Gil, a former senior official in the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives).

The CBS interview with Gil, which was promptly picked up by a host of news organizations in both countries, brought to light the secret operation, sanctioned at high levels by United States (US) officials, under which ATF officers monitored without intervening as more than 2,000 weapons were purchased at a handful of gun stores in Arizona and transported over the border into Mexico.


The practice is known as “gunwalking,” which in theory gives the ATF an opportunity to observe patterns of circulation and establish the eventual destinations of the firearms. In the event, according to the CBS reports, some of the weapons found their way to crime scenes deep within Mexican territory. One was used in the murder of a US agent.

One blogger among many to take verbal aim at the ATF's secret operation was Horacio Garcia Fernandez, who posted [es] on ApiaVirtual, taking issue first of all with name of the mission, which he parsed like an impassioned linguist:

“RÁPIDO Y FURIOSO”  fué el nombre que eligieron para una cruenta acción de guerra contra México.[…]

¿Qué significan exactamente esas dos palabras así reunidas?

Acudimos a un buen “tumba burros”, también llamado “diccionario” y leemos que “rápido”significa “con ímpetu”, “impetuoso”.[…]

Por tanto, lo de “rápido” lleva asociada la idea de “energía”; un movimiento “rápido” es un movimiento “enérgico”.

El programa de acción que fué bautizado ( ¿? ) con ese nombre de “rápido y furioso” nos envía un mensaje de fondo: “¡Cuidado! este asunto está cargado de energía”, en lo que claramente es un intento de asustarnos.

“Fast and Furious” was the name they chose for a vicious act of war against Mexico.[…]

What exactly do these two words, so conjoined, signify?

We consulted a good […] “dictionary,” and we read that “fast” means “with impetus”, “impetuous”.[…]

Therefore, “fast” is associated with the idea of ​​”energy”; a”fast” movement is an “energetic” one.

The operational plan that was baptized (??) with the name “fast and furious” sends us a fundamental message: “Caution! This matter is full of energy,” in what is clearly an attempt to scare us.

He continues:

Viene después la palabrita” furioso”, la cual nos dice el diccionario que significa “poseído de furia”, “violento”, “terrible”.

A su vez, “furia” significa ” ira exaltada”, “violenta agitación”.[…]

Por tanto, la “furia” ES UNA VIOLENTA IRA DESATADA Y FUERA DE CONTROL, provocada por alguna causa mayor, fuera de lo común.[…]

Los E.U han puesto las armas, y nosotros, los mexicanos, hemos puesto las víctimas, los cadáveres.

Next comes the little word “furious,” which the dictionary tells us signifies “possessed by fury,” “violent,” “terrible.”

In turn, “fury” means “exalted rage,” “violent agitation.”

Therefore, the “fury” is a violent rage spinning out of control, caused by a force majeure, extraordinary.[…]

The US have their weapons, and we Mexicans have the corpses.

On EjeCentral, contributor Martha Anaya noted [es]:

Pero acercarse a la información de primera mano sobre la operación “Rápido y Furioso” no es nada fácil. Ni siquiera en Estados Unidos, pues ningún funcionario del Departamento de Justicia ni de la  ATF han comparecido ante el Comité senatorial que investiga el caso.Según un reporte de la CBS, Kenneth Melson, director general de la ATF, tenía programada una audiencia en el senado el jueves pasado, pero no asistió.

Así que, al igual que en México y Estados Unidos, la operación “Rápido y Furioso” está provocando que sus principales implicados se escondan. Pero, como la avestruces, sólo ocultan la cabeza, todo lo demás queda –o va quedando– al descubierto.

But to obtain firsthand information about operation “Fast and Furious” is not easy. Even in the United States, no officials from the Justice Department or the ATF have appeared before the Senate committee investigating the case. According to a CBS report, Kenneth Melson, general director of the ATF, was scheduled to appear at a hearing in the Senate last Thursday, but did not attend.

In Mexico and the United States, then, Operation “Fast and Furious” is prompting its major players to hide. But, like ostriches, they only conceal the head, everything else is being – or will be – exposed.

Twitter reactions

In the meantime, Twitter users were likewise galvanized by the revelations. Ross Romero (@rosseromero) ventured on March 30:

#Mexicorojo  Seguro que rapido y furioso pronto va ser el nombre de la empressa que armara a los mexicanos para defenderse de la violencia???

#Redmexico For sure, fast and furious will soon be the name of a business that will arm Mexicans to defend themselves from violence???

Mexican journalist Juan Pablo de Leo (@juanpadeleo) wondered on April 5:

Bueno, el operativo rapido y furioso ya fue, nos guste o no. Pero ahora yo quiero saber: cuales fueron los resultados? Que encontraron?
Well, operation fast and furious is over, whether we like it or not. But now I want to know: what were the results? What did they find?

North of the Rio Grande, a self-described “American. Conservative. Mom. Wife. Blogger” with 160,000+ followers, Michelle Malkin (@michellemalkin) leavened her skepticism with humour on March 30:

Code name for Obama stonewall/denials on Operation Fast and Furious — Operation False and Spurious.

Writing from Mexico City (D.F.) on the same day, Julieta Boy (@julieboy) perhaps spoke for others south of the border:

Estados Unidos tuvo un operativo llamado “rapido y furioso”, Mexico tiene el suyo: “en chinga y encabronado”

The US had an operation called “fast and furious”, Mexico has its own: “screwed and pissed off”

This post is part of our special coverage Mexico's Drug War.


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