The DOJ’s General Inspector indicated that Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) agents have marked the grenades that were purchased by arms trafficker Jean Baptiste Kingery so that they could put a trace on them once they entered Mexico.
“Mexican soldiers exchange gunfire with members of a drug cartel. After the battle, the soldiers recover 15 live hand grenades. ATF later examines the grenades and discover that four of them have components with markings similar to those made by ATF during the Kingery investigation,” the DOJ report said.
The operation was part of the “Fast and Furious” and “Wide Receiver” undercover programs in 2009.
The report said that the ATF agents realized in October 2009 that the U.S. citizen Kingery had ordered large quantities of the components from a military distributor. The agents suspected that Kingery was planning to export the contraband to Mexico to be made into live grenades and to sell them to Mexican drug cartels.
“ATF Special Agent Walter Beatty learns from two military surplus stores that Kingery has placed orders for 400 grenade hulls, 100 hand grenade fuse assemblies, 4000 hand grenade spring kits, and 4000 hand grenade safety clips,” the report read.
Between November 2009 and March 2010, the DOJ maintains that the ATF confiscated the grenade parts shipments addressed to Kingery.
But while the ATF agents were monitoring the shipment, in violation of the Law to Control the Exportation of Arms from the United States, the agents lost sight of the suspect. Meanwhile, Kingery had traveled to Mexico. Months later, the report said that the ATF discovered that there “two live grenades were recovered at the scene of a crime in Mexico, made with parts earmarked by the ATF, which had been given to Kingery.”
Mexican law enforcement confirmed that those parts were in fact used to build live grenades that were used by drug traffickers in attacks on police.
The report also criticized officials in the State District Attorney’s Office of the District or Arizona for refusing to process Kingery after he was arrested on June 2010 by customs and border patrol agents when he tried to enter Mexico with the munitions and grenade parts.
CNN compiled recent data from diverse sources and found that there are about 6,700 licensed firearms dealers in the United States along the U.S.-Mexico border, while there is only one legal firearms retailer in Mexico. Moreover, from 2007 to 2011, nearly 70 percent of guns recovered and traced by the United States from Mexican criminal activity originated from sales in the United States. Mexican drug cartels earn between US$19-29 billion annually from U.S. drug sales.
The death toll of Mexico’s drug trade has now reached 80,000 dead since the war on drugs was launched in 2006, along with 27,000 disappeared, and many thousands more displaced from their homes.