The testimony of a Mexican hitman turned government witness has revealed some astonishing details of life inside Mexico’s criminal underworld. Most astonishing of all: claims that cartel assassins obtained guns from the U.S. Border Patrol.
According to Mexican magazine Revista Contralinea, the testimony comes from a protected government witness and former hitman, who cooperated in the prosecution of a Sinaloa Cartel accountant by the Mexican Attorney General’s Office. The testimony details a series of battles fought by a group of cartel members attempting to drive out rival gangsters from territory in Mexico’s desert west. To do it, the group sought weapons from the U.S., including at least 30 WASR-10 rifles — a variant of the AK-47 — allegedly acquired from Border Patrol agents.
If true, it could reignite the debate over Operation Fast and Furious, the last time U.S. authorities allowed guns to fall into the hands of Mexican gangsters. Two days after the election, Attorney General Eric Holder — who had been at the center of allegations surrounding the scandal — is now talking like he might not stay with the administration for much longer. “That’s something I’m in the process now of trying to determine,” Holder said Thursday. “I have to think about, can I contribute in a second term?”
Though we don’t know if the informant, who goes by the pseudonym “Victoria,” is telling the truth about gangsters getting guns from the Border Patrol. (A spokesperson for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which oversees the Border Patrol, tells Danger Room that the agency is checking on the claim.)
The witness named “Victoria” first joined a Sinaloa Cartel enforcer group called Gente Nueva, or New People, in 2009. Within Gente Nueva, the witness worked for smaller group called the Javelins. Their job, over 2009 and 2010, was to eliminate groups of rival Zetas and Beltran Leyva Organization members that had seized Sinaloa Cartel turf in Mexico’s desert west. The enforcers moved by convoy, ranging from 20 to 80 trucks and SUVs with five or six gunmen in each, and fought a series of pitched battles over control of the area’s “plazas,” or hubs for moving cocaine and marijuana.
“The instruction was to kill them all,” the witness said.