Plenty of opinions about the failed “Fast and Furious” sting operation are flying in all directions, and there are countless questions that people would like to hear answers to about just how agents conducted the operation. An investigating committee has now made one of those questions official: “Why weren’t GPS trackers used?”
The goal of “Fast and Furious” was to sell guns to suspected arms smuggler, then arrest the smugglers as they tried to cross the border into Mexico with the guns illegally. Unfortunately, in too many instances agents lost track of the guns, and they actually made it across the borders, into the hands of the drug cartels that the operation was designed to catch. Attorney General Eric Holder has faced some tough questions from Congress: Why did the operation use real, functional guns without making sure they couldn’t be lost? Why was the operation’s failure covered up until the guns turned up at crime scenes in both the U.S. and Mexico?
In a recently issued report, the Congressional committee that investigated the scandal criticizes officials for failing to use GPS trackers to keep a closer eye on the weapons after they left the hands of agents. Today’s trackers are so small and light that they could easily be concealed on a gun without tipping off the recipient. After passing on the guns, agents could have simply watched the GPS signals move on a computer screen and swooped in to make an arrest once they indicated illegal activity, like crossing the border.
The general answer to the question “Why not?” seems to be, “It didn’t seem that important.” People involved in the operation say that GPS trackers were discussed, and some officials strongly encouraged that the technology be added to the operation. These efforts did not succeed, however; the agents in charge seem to have brushed them off. Only two individual trackers made it onto guns used in the operation, one of which actually led to a successful raid and recovery of 41 firearms just before they made it into Mexico on a truck. With more raids like that, “Fast and Furious” might have been a success instead of a scandal.