Note: story was covered in AZMEX UPDATE 30-4-11 back then. AZMEX
UPDATE2 30-4-11 with the photos has gone missing. As has also gone
missing are details of recovered firearms, specifically make, model
and S/N. Details that used to be routinely reported to Mex. media.
By sheer coincidence about the same time U.S aid money started
flowing. Cover up already in progress by two federal governments?
BTW, whatever has happened to those 10 year sentences? A question
asked here numerous times.
Fast and Furious weapons were found in Mexico cartel enforcer's home
Guns illegally purchased under the ATF operation were found in April
hidden in violence-plagued Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, court records show.
By Richard A. Serrano, Washington Bureau
October 8, 2011, 8:46 p.m.
Reporting from Washington— High-powered assault weapons illegally
purchased under the ATF's Fast and Furious program in Phoenix ended
up in a home belonging to the purported top Sinaloa cartel enforcer
in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, whose organization was terrorizing that
city with the worst violence in the Mexican drug wars.
In all, 100 assault weapons acquired under Fast and Furious were
transported 350 miles from Phoenix to El Paso, making that West Texas
city a central hub for gun traffickers. Forty of the weapons made it
across the border and into the arsenal of Jose Antonio Torres
Marrufo, a feared cartel leader in Ciudad Juarez, according to
federal court records and trace documents from the Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The smugglers' tactics — quickly moving the weapons far from ATF
agents in southern Arizona, where it had been assumed they would
circulate — vividly demonstrate that what had been viewed as a local
problem was much larger. Six other Fast and Furious guns destined for
El Paso were recovered in Columbus, N.M.
"These Fast and Furious guns were going to Sinaloans, and they are
killing everyone down there," said one knowledgeable U.S. government
source, who asked for anonymity because of the ongoing
investigations. "But that's only how many we know came through Texas.
Hundreds more had to get through."
Torres Marrufo, also known as "the Jaguar," has been identified by
U.S. authorities as the enforcer for Sinaloa cartel chieftain Joaquin
"Chapo" Guzman. The Fast and Furious weapons were found at one of
Torres Marrufo's homes April 30 when Mexican police inspected the
property. It was unoccupied but "showed signs of recent activity,"
The basement had been converted into a gym with a wall covered with
built-in mirrors. Behind the mirrors they found a hidden room with
the Fast and Furious weapons and dozens more, including an
antiaircraft machine gun, a sniper rifle and a grenade launcher.
"We have seized the most important cache of weapons in the history of
Ciudad Juarez," Chihuahua state Gov. Cesar Duarte said at the time,
though he did not know that many of the weapons came from the U.S.
and Fast and Furious.
Torres Marrufo has been indicted in El Paso, but authorities have
been unable to locate and arrest him.
In the U.S., intelligence officials consider the Sinaloa cartel the
most powerful drug trafficking organization in the world. Weekly
reports from U.S. intelligence authorities to the Justice Department
in the summer of 2010, at the height of Fast and Furious, warned
about the proliferation of guns reaching the Sinaloa cartel.
Under Fast and Furious, begun in fall 2009, the ATF allowed illegal
buyers to walk away with weapons in the hope that agents in Phoenix
could track the guns and arrest cartel leaders.
Three months into the program, El Paso began to emerge as a hub,
perhaps the central location, for Fast and Furious weapons. On Jan.
13, 2010, El Paso police stumbled upon 40 firearms after following a
suspicious dark blue Volkswagen Jetta that backed into a garage at a
local residence, according to federal court records.
Alberto Sandoval told authorities he acquired the weapons three days
after they were purchased from someone he knew only as "Rudy." He
said he was paid $1,000 to store the guns and "knew the firearms were
going to Mexico."
Sandoval pleaded guilty in federal court in El Paso and was sentenced
to 6 1/2 years in prison. A month later, on Dec. 17, 2010, he escaped
from a minimum-security prison in Tucson; officials believe he fled
Two others, Ivan Chavira and Edgar Ivan Galvan, were subsequently
charged in that gun recovery, along with the recovery of 20 Fast and
Furious weapons on April 7, 2010, in El Paso. Those guns also were
discovered by chance by local authorities, and ATF trace records show
that the weapons were purchased in Phoenix two weeks before they were
found in El Paso.
Chavira and Galvan pleaded guilty. Chavira received eight years in
prison; Galvan is to be sentenced next month.
Times staff writer Tracy Wilkinson in Mexico City contributed to this