Note: Incompetence, corruption and political agenda at work?
Results? Hundreds of Mexican citizens dead along with at least two
U.S. law enforcement.
Drug lords targeted by Fast and Furious were FBI informants
Federal agents released alleged gun trafficker Manuel Fabian Celis-
Acosta to help them find two Mexican drug lords. But the two were
secret FBI informants, emails show.
By Richard A. Serrano, Washington Bureau
March 21, 2012, 5:39 p.m.
Reporting from Washington— When the ATF made alleged gun trafficker
Manuel Fabian Celis-Acosta its primary target in the ill-fated Fast
and Furious investigation, it hoped he would lead the agency to two
associates who were Mexican drug cartel members. The ATF even
questioned and released him knowing that he was wanted by the Drug
But those two drug lords were secretly serving as informants for the
FBI along the Southwest border, newly obtained internal emails show.
Had Celis-Acosta simply been held when he was arrested by theBureau
of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in May 2010, the
investigation that led to the loss of hundreds of illegal guns and
may have contributed to the death of a Border Patrol agent could have
been closed early.
Documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times/Tribune Washington Bureau
show that as far back as December 2009 — five months before Celis-
Acosta was detained and released at the border in a car carrying 74
live rounds of ammunition — ATF and DEA agents learned by chance that
they were separately investigating the same man in the Arizona and
Mexico border region.
ATF agents had placed a secret pole camera outside his Phoenix home
to track his movements, and separately the DEA was operating a "wire
room" to monitor live wiretap intercepts to follow him.
In May 2010, Celis-Acosta was briefly detained at the border in
Lukeville, Ariz., and then released by Hope MacAllister, the chief
ATF investigator on Fast and Furious, after he promised to cooperate
The ATF had hoped he would lead them to two Mexican cartel members.
But records show that after Celis-Acosta finally was arrested in
February 2011, the ATF learned to its surprise that the two cartel
members were secret FBI informants.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), chairman of the House Oversight and
Government Reform Committee, and Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa)
are investigating Fast and Furious, which allowed illegal gun
purchases in Arizona in hopes of tracking the weapons to Mexican drug
cartel leaders. In a confidential memo to Republican committee
members, Issa and Grassley said the ATF should have known the cartel
members were informants and immediately shut down Fast and Furious.
"This means the entire goal of Fast and Furious — to target these two
individuals and bring them to justice — was a failure," they wrote.
The "lack of follow-through" by the various agencies, they said,
typified "the serious management failures that occurred throughout
all levels during Fast and Furious."
James Needles, a top ATF official in Arizona, told congressional
investigators last year that it was very frustrating and a "major
disappointment" to learn too late about the informants.
ATF officials declined to comment about the investigations because
they are continuing.
But Adrian P. Fontes, a Phoenix attorney representing Celis-Acosta,
who has pleaded not guilty, said he was concerned the federal
agencies purposely did not share information.
"When one hand is not talking to the other, perhaps somebody is
hiding something," he said. "Was this intentional?"
Emails and other records show that once the ATF and DEA realized they
were both investigating Celis-Acosta, officials from both agencies
met in December 2009 at the DEA field office in Phoenix.
It is unclear, however, whether MacAllister later told the DEA that
she released Celis-Acosta in May 2010 and that he was headed into
Her boss, David J. Voth, the ATF's group supervisor for Fast and
Furious, told committee investigators that the ATF realized the
Sinaloa cartel members were "national security assets," or FBI
informants, only after Celis-Acosta was rearrested. He identified the
informants as two brothers, and said, "We first learned when we went
back and sorted out the facts."