Issa Broadens Fast & Furious Invest. To DEA Cartel Money Laundering

Copyright © 2011 Vanguard of Freedom

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., today announced an investigation into the Drug Enforcement Agency’s alleged laundering of millions of dollars in Mexican drug cartel money. The New York Times reported that the DEA employed similar tactics with money laundering as were seen in ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious, where guns were allowed into the hands of low level straw purchasers in hopes that they would lead to drug kingpins. (See Laundering)

“Yesterday, in a front page story, the New York Times reported that ‘in operations supervised by the Justice Department and orchestrated to get around sovereignty ristrictions,’ American narcotics agents have ‘laundered or smuggled millions of dollars in drug proceeds as part of Washington’s expanding role into Mexico’s fight against drug cartels,” Issa wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder.

Issa wrote Holder that Operation Fast and Furious, the “…operation, which you personally acknowledged was ‘fundamentally flawed,’ failed spectacularly to meet its objective of bringing down Mexican drug cartels. Precisely because the ends do not justify the means, the law limits the conduct alleged in this story.”

Issa states:

Apparently, this same goal of dismantling Mexican drug cartels motivated the Drug Enforcement Administration in aiding and abetting these same cartels in laundering millions of dollars in cash. In fact, the New York Times reports that agents needed to seek Department approval to launder amounts greater than $10 million in any single operation. Officials quoted in the story said this $10 million cap was more of a guideline than a rule, noting tht it has apparently been waived on many occasions to ‘attract the interest of high value targets.’ These statements suggest that U.S. undercover agents have been involved in laundering hundreds of millions of dollars”
Congressman Issa refers to the money laundering operations, which he says are reportedly known as “Attorney General Exempt Operations.”
“While these Attorney General Exempt Operations have been forbidden in Mexico since 1998, it appears that they may have been resurrected in an effort to stem violence in Mexico, which has been spiraling out of control due to the drug trade. It also appears as though these American agents, posing as smugglers, assisted Mexican drug cartels in their illicit and deadly drug trade. These allegations, if true, raise further unsettling questions about a Department of Justice component engaging in a high-risk strategy with scant evidence of success. Specifically, they raise questions about ‘the [DEA’s] effectiveness in bringing down drug kingpins, underscore diplomatic concerns about Mexican sovereignty, and blur the line between surveillance and facilitating crime.”

 Issa rebukes Holder further by calling into question his leadership:

“The existence of such a program again calls your ledership into question. The managerial structure you have implemented lacks appropriate operational safeguards to prevent the implementation of such dangerous schemes. The consequences have been disastrous. It is almost unfathomable to contemplate the degree to which the United States Government has made itself an accomplice to the Mexican drug trade, which has thus far left more than 40,000 people dead in Mexico since December 2006.”
Issa then declares in the letter that it is imperative that Congress be apprised of the true dimensions of the alleged operations, and asks Holder to provide a briefing to him and his staff by no later than Wednesday of this week, to include materials on the Attorney General Exempt Operations, particularly as they regard Mexico, as well as details on which Department of Justice agencies and offices are responsible for overseeing and approving the operations in question and the requirements for approvals and waivers.”

Attorney General Holder is scheduled to appear before the House Judiciary Committee this Thursday to testify on Operation Fast and Furious.

In another development, published by’s David Codrea, Codrea reports that James K. Stinebower of PJMedia has shed light on another area where Operation Fast & Furious “gunwalking runs afoul of the law.”  (Codrea Article)

The Department of Justice personnel and principally Attorney General Holder may be facing charges of perjury for making false statements in testimony to Congress. Stinebower opines that the Justice Department has violated U.S. Laws beyond those that are being investigated. He should know, he says, because he was the principal drafter of some of the legislation.

Specifically Stinebower refers to the apparent violation of “at least one (probably two) major U.S. laws by the Holder Justice Department.” To wit, Stinebower tells us:

“A few years ago, the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701, the follow-on to the Trading with the Enemy Act) was expanded in order to criminalize any transactions between U.S. entities — to include departments and agencies of the U.S. government — and all foreign drug cartels.
“…I was tasked to initiate and became the principal drafter of legislation which became known as the Kingpin Act (21 U.S.C. §§ 1901-08). The Kingpin Act is an extension of the highly successful IEEPA sanctioning program specifically targeting Colombian drug cartels. It expands sanctions authority against various drug cartel operations worldwide — including Mexico — which have been determined by the president to be threats to the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States…”

Additionally Stinebower explains:

“…A violation of any of the IEEPA sanctioning programs or the Kingpin Act carries stiff penalties, both criminal and civil, and potentially totaling decades in prison and tens of millions of dollars in fines. It is not necessary that an individual or governmental entity be shown to have “knowingly” violated any of these programs: it is illegal for any U.S. entity or individual to aid, abet, or materially assist — or in the case of Operation Fast and Furious, to facilitate others to aid, abet, or materially assist — designated drug traffickers. There are no exceptions within IEEPA programs for unlicensed U.S. law enforcement or intelligence agency operations.
Based on the July 5, 2010, memo to Eric Holder, it would appear that Fast and Furious facilitated the delivery of weapons to — at a minimum — the Sinaloa cartel in Mexico. The U.S. Department of the Treasury, which administers both the IEEPA and Kingpin Act programs, has designated numerous members of the Sinaloa cartel under both programs. IEEPA prohibitions apply to the U.S. government as well as to individuals, and as stated there are no exceptions within IEEPA programs for unlicensed U.S. law enforcement or intelligence agency operations…”

See Stinebower’s Article Here

Stinebower suggests that “As part of Congress’ ongoing investigation, as well as its constitutionally mandated oversight activities, it should be asked of Attorney General Holder if any such specific licenses were requested or granted by the Treasury Department. Additionally, Treasury Secretary Geithner should explain whether his Department has begun an investigation into these apparent violations of IEEPA and the Kingpin Act.”

Although fifty two federal legislators have called for Eric Holder’s resignation, Congressman Issa has not and he explains why in this video.

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