CBS: Grenade used in Mexican cartel shootout linked to ATF operation

It’s not Operation Fast and Furious, but another ATF operation that ended up doing nothing about weapons smuggling across the border. The ATF knew about Jean-Baptiste Kingery and tracked him for a long period of time, collecting “significant evidence” of his arms trafficking, including grenades. They didn’t prosecute him, though, and now at least one of the weapons linked to Kingery was used in a battle in Guadalajara between Mexican cartel members and the police — three of whom died.

CBS’ Sharyl Attkisson reports:

CBS News has learned of a shocking link between a deadly drug cartel shootout with Mexican police last week and a controversial case in the U.S. The link is one of the grenades used in the violent fight, which killed three policemen and four cartel members and was captured on video by residents in the area.

According to a Justice Department “Significant Incident Report” filed Tuesday and obtained by CBS News, evidence connects one of the grenades to Jean Baptiste Kingery, an alleged firearms trafficker U.S. officials allowed to operate for years without arresting despite significant evidence that he was moving massive amounts of grenade parts and ammunition to Mexico’s ruthless drug cartels.

The gun battle took place last week in Guadalajara. Authorities say five members of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel used at least nine firearms and ten hand grenades against Mexican police. If one of the grenades was supplied with the help of Kingery, as believed, it adds to the toll of lives taken with weapons trafficked by suspects U.S. officials watched but did not stop.

The Kingery case was overseen by the same Arizona U.S. Attorney and ATF office that let suspects traffic thousands of weapons to Mexican drug cartels in the operation dubbed Fast and Furious. The strategy was to try to get to the cartel kingpins, but it was halted after CBS News reported that Fast and Furious weapons were used by cartel thugs in the murder of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry on December 15, 2010. Weapons trafficked by other ATF suspects under surveillance were used two months later in the cartel murder of Immigration and Customs Agent Jaime Zapata in Mexico on February 15, 2011.

ATF tried telling Attkisson that they had no information on any connection between Kingery and the ordnance used in the fight. However, an ATF report explicitly notes the Kingery link to at least one of the grenades. The ATF had been aware since 2009 of Kingery’s trafficking in grenades, which had become the weapon of choice for the cartels at that time. Instead of seizing him at that time, the ATF deliberately chose to let him cross back into Mexico, over the objections of agents. Sound familiar?

Kingery’s luck ran out in 2011, though:

In 2011, Mexican authorities finally raided Kingery’s factory and arrested him — they say he confessed to teaching cartel members how to build grenades and convert semi-automatic weapons to automatic. The Justice Department has not provided an update on whether it’s trying to extradite Kingery to the U.S., and an ATF spokesman said on Wednesday that he doesn’t know the status of his case.

After the battle last week and the track record of the ATF and DoJ on Kingery, don’t expect the Mexican government to cooperate with any extradition effort. They’d prefer an actual prosecution, one would imagine.