Controversy Surrounding ATF’s Honduras Gun Running Operation

There is certainly a buzz surrounding the ATF’s controversial Honduras gun running operation – what the ATF referred to as “the most significant firearms trafficking investigation in Central Florida history – “Operation Castaway.”

Those involved in “Operation Castaway,” including the ATF’s Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the Tampa Field Division, Virginia O’Brien, contend that no malfeasance transpired during the operation that apprehended Hugh Crumpler, III, and several other individuals involved in a major international gun trafficking ring that smuggled more than 1000 firearms into various parts of Central and South America as well as into Puerto Rico.  

According to the press release issued by United States Attorney, A. Brian Albritton, “Firearms like those involved in this investigation are often smuggled through Honduras and other Central and South American countries before being used in violent crimes in Mexico and other countries in the region… Several firearms trafficked by Crumpler and Ramon Lopez, Jr. were used in crimes associated with the Torres Sabana Drug Trafficking Organization, a notorious and violent drug trafficking organization in Puerto Rico.” 

However, the questionable tactics and methodologies used in the controversial “Fast & Furious Operation” were also, allegedly, used in “Operation Castaway.”  Those tactics included a laissez-faire type approach that permitted straw buyers to sell guns directly to known gangsters and criminal organizations.  The hope was that federal agents would then be able to track the guns once they transferred hands.  However, as more information surfaced, it appeared that there were no real tracking or bugging devices, strategies, or tactics in place.

When interviewed about the “Fast & Furious Operation,” Acting Director of the ATF, Kenneth Melson, made a key assertion to Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa and Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley, he admitted that “Contrary to denials by the Justice Department, agents had in fact witnessed transfers of weapons from straw purchasers to third parties without following the guns any further.”  

Issa had this to say about the Melson’s confession, “If his account is accurate, then ATF leadership appears to have been effectively muzzled while the DOJ sent over false denials and buried its head in the sand. That approach distorted the truth and obstructed our investigation.” 

Whether or not there is an ongoing cover-up in the DOJ and the ATF is not quite crystal clear, what is clear however, is that several of the guns in the “Fast & Furious Operation” have been linked to the death of a United States Border Patrol Agent back in December.

With regards to “Operation Castaway,” inside sources have reported the SAC Virginia O’Brien “is terrified that her international concealing of her walked guns is going to do her in since she disregarded orders to report to DOJ and Congress.”  Guns.com cannot verify the credibility of such reports.  However, we will continue to update our readers as more facts become known.