Mexico's top cop Attorney General Marisela Morales has requested the extradition of six people suspected of providing guns to drug cartels. She told the Mexico's lower house of Congress last Wednesday three of the suspects are in Texas and three are in California. Morales did not mention the gun walking operation known as Fast and Furious nor did she name the individual suspects. But, according to the Latin American Herald Tribune, "One of the requests involves three people believed to have acquired a large number of weapons under the Fast and Furious program."
Morales has been under pressure from lawmakers to "punish those responsible" in the U.S for an ATF Phoenix program that supplied high-powered weapons to some of the most vicious killers on the planet. The number of Mexican citizens killed with guns purchased under the ATF operation could number in the thousands, according to Chihuahua state prosecutor Patricia Gonzalez.
Last fall Gonzalez' brother Mario, a lawyer, was kidnapped and brutally murdered by cartel hit men who videotaped the grisly slaying. An ATF officer working out of the U.S. embassy in Mexico later told Ms. Gonzalez AK-47 assault rifles found in the killers' arsenal were linked to Fast and Furious.
By most accounts Mexican officials were kept in the dark while more and more guns were showing up at crime scenes south of the border.
In September, 2011 Attorney General Morales told the Los Angeles Times she heard about the deadly operation through news reports months after the murder of Agent Brian Terry.
It was then that we learned of that case, of the arms trafficking. In no way would we have allowed it, because it is an attack on the safety of Mexicans.
In fact, Morales was not even Attorney General when the news about the gun walking murders came to light. President Calderone appointed Morales, then Deputy Attorney General for Special Investigations Against Organized Crime, to her present position on March 31, 2011. A few weeks before taking over as Mexico's top law enforcement officer, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama presented Morales with the International Women of Courage Award at a ceremony in DC.
Most concede Morales is a courageous, smart and formidable leader. Her recent extradition request came with some tough talk.
We're going to get to the bottom of this and we're going to punish ... whomever is responsible for these (crimes).
[In the future] we will manage to have more cases of this nature and surely there will be many extraditions we are going to be requesting from authorities in the United States.
Mexico is free to punish those who violate the law by smuggling weapons into its territory.
Top U.S. officials Eric Holder, Hillary Clinton, Janet Napolitano and President Obama have denied any knowledge of the operation, so turning over criminal defendants for prosecution in Mexico seems unlikely. Morales said she will respect the "sovereignty" of both countries and that each nation has "a shared responsibility" to investigate and punish gun smugglers.
Even if Ms. Morales' request for extradition is nothing more than a political necessity to ward off the "concern and indignation" of the Mexican people, it does draw attention to a government program that resulted in a mass murder nightmare for our neighbor to the south.
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