IG report: Yeah, maybe letting a drug cartel grenade salesman run around loose was a bad idea

One of the more bizarre chapters of Operation Fast and Furious – one of the biggest, deadliest scandals of the modern era, currently clinging tenaciously to the rim of the Memory Hole despite years of efforts by our “investigative” media to flush it – was the case of Jean Baptiste Kingery.  Fast and Furious introduced us to the amazing practice of “gun walking,” i.e. deliberately allowing cartel gun traffickers to lug American weapons across the border into Mexico, with some vague idea about maybe catching whoever ultimately used the guns to kill someone.  Kingery was the “grenade walker.”  He packed all the incompetence, lunacy, and hidden agendas of Fast and Furious into pineapples with fragmentary shells.

Like the other tales of the Obama Administration’s gun-running scandal, Kingery’s story is so incredible that people hearing it for the first time blink in stunned disbelief, then ask why the hell the media didn’t splash it all over the front pages.  (One of the few reporters who followed the story closely was Sharyl Attkisson, back in the days before CBS News executives started yelling at her for reporting on things the Obama Administration would rather not have the public dwell upon, and her computer started coming alive in the middle of the night and deleting files on its own.)  The story was buried deep enough that reading epilogues from long-gestating watchdog reports is like watching the DVD extras to a movie most people didn’t see.

Such is the case with the Inspector General’s report on the Kingery affair, whose release is amusingly downplayed by Reuters today:

Units of the U.S. Department of Justice “seriously” botched an investigation into a suspected trafficker of grenade parts and failed to adequately consider the public safety risk posed by letting the suspect walk free, a watchdog for the agency said on Thursday.

The probe had been tied to Operation Fast and Furious, a failed effort by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. Attorney’s office in Arizona to stop gun smuggling across the U.S. border with Mexico.

ATF agents learned in 2009 that Jean Baptiste Kingery, a U.S. citizen, was buying large amounts of grenade components online, and suspected he was transporting them to Mexico, according to the report, from the Justice Department’s inspector general.

Border patrol agents stopped him in 2010, but U.S. law enforcement authorities let Kingery go after questioning him and soon lost contact.

He had a load of grenade parts and two thousand rounds of ammo hidden in his spare tire when they caught him.  That wasn’t the first time, either, and the ATF kept losing track of him when he got into Mexico.  The didn’t just observe his purchase of grenade parts; the ATF actually delivered the stuff to him, after marking it for the tracking that never actually occurred.

Kingery wasn’t just delivering grenade parts, either – he was teaching cartel thugs how to put the grenades together, and how to convert their semi-automatic guns to full auto.  When the Mexican police took him down, he was sitting on enough material to build a thousand hand grenades.

ATF field agents flipped out at the thought of letting this guy run free, alternately begging to keep him in jail and swearing at their superiors in agency emails, but they were overridden by the brass… and by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which pulls the Department of Homeland Security into the saga.  That’s a lot of networking for a scandal originally excused as the work of a few over-zealous agents in the Phoenix office of the ATF.

Kingery, who was arrested in Mexico in 2011 and accused of trafficking grenade and gun parts to the Sinaloa cartel, is facing prosecution in Mexico.

“We found that the investigation of Kingery was seriously flawed…and that Kingery should have been arrested and charged…long before he finally was,” the inspector general, Michael Horowitz, said in the report.

In a statement, the Justice Department said the individuals responsible for the operations have been reassigned or have left, and that the agency took “aggressive action” to make sure it didn’t repeat the mistakes.

How about that!  Another massive Obama Administration scandal where nobody gets held accountable and no one is punished.

As to what became of Kingery’s grenades, Sharyl Attkisson, writing for the Daily Signalsays a few of them do seem to have been tossed around, here and there:

The report says marked grenade hulls from ATF’s November 2009 operation involving Kingery may have been used by drug cartel members in a March 2011 gun battle with Mexican soldiers.

According to a Justice Department “Significant Information Report,” evidence connected a Kingery grenade to a fierce battle in Guadalajara that took the lives of three Mexican police in October 2013. Authorities say five members of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel used at least nine firearms and 10 hand grenades in their attack on Mexican police.

You’ll be relieved to know the masterminds who cooked up gun walking and grenade walking were prepared for this eventuality.  “Even in a post blast, as long as the safety lever is recovered, we will be able to identify these tagged grenades,” said one email cited in the IG report.  Doubtless the Mexican police were able to recover some safety levers, after they were finished dodging the exploding grenades, so it’s all good.