The US Government's Secret Plan To Give Weapons To Criminals Explained

There's no shortage of far-out plots from the United States government's dark past. In hindsight, many of these operations seem closer to insane conspiracy theories. The CIA's mind control plot, MKULTRA, which centered around psychological torture and brainwashing, might be the one of the most infamous examples of covert government programs, but it's far from the only one.

Another example of the American government's overreach took place between 2009 and 2011 as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives considered ways to pinpoint the location of Mexican drug cartels on foreign soil. As reported by Complex, the Western superpower ultimately decided to venture into the illegal and provide weapons to be sold to criminals in Arizona — a scheme that was named Operation Fast and Furious. The hope was that such firearms — almost 2,000 were sold, per CNN — could be traced to the cartels that purchased them. But like other illegal operations undertaken by the American government, things didn't quite go as planned.

The operation had disastrous consequences

Although the Department of Justice Inspector General claimed that 20 of 34 suspects arrested in 2011 for trafficking weapons to Mexico were charged via Operation Fast and Furious, the secret plot was also the catalyst for multiple disastrous events. The most egregious was the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in 2010 in the Arizona desert. When law enforcement investigated the crime scene, they found two weapons that were sold as part of the U.S. government scheme. Across the border, Complex noted that Mexican officials claimed that 150 citizens were killed or harmed by weapons that originated from America's covert program.

The death of Terry and unconfirmed Mexican deaths are a bloody reminder of the failure of the ATF operation. Of the almost 2,000 firearms that were sold for $1.5 million, CNN claimed that approximately 1,400 were lost by the ATF.

The spectacularly botched plan led to the then-Attorney General Eric Holder being held in criminal contempt in a 255-67 vote by the House of Representatives in 2012. Afterward, William Hoover, the deputy director of the ATF at the time, resigned from his position, and a report from the DOJ Inspector General deemed that 14 employees in both sections of government had caused management failures in the operation.