Just when you thought the bungled Department of Justice Fast and Furious gun trafficking scandal couldn’t get any more absurd, now comes word that one of the main suspects in the “investigation” was apprehended by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) agents and then shortly released.

Plus he made an extra 10 bucks on the deal.

In May 2010, seven months after F & F was initiated by the DOJ/ATF, Manuel Fabian Celis-Acosta, 24, was arrested in the small Arizona border community of Lukeville, about 130 miles west of Tucson.

In addition to Celis-Acosta’s having an illegally acquired U.S. resident card, bogus Social Security number and false Arizona driver’s license, border agents also discovered inside the 2002 BMW that Celis-Acosta was driving 74 rounds of ammunition, nine cell phones, a list of firearms transactions and a ledger indicating amounts of money given to someone named “Killer.”

ATF Special Agent Hope MacAllister questioned Celis-Acosta about the contents found within the BMW and if he had been running guns. Celis-Acosta admitted purchasing guns from Phoenix area firearms businesses and transporting them into Mexico. He also bragged of having a close relationship with a high-ranking Sinaloa drug cartel member and was actually en route to a birthday party for one of the cartel’s captains.

After the interrogation, Agent MacAllister asked Celis-Acosta if he would “be willing to cooperate” with the ATF and provide additional information on future gun purchases and drug-related activity. He agreed.

MacAllister then jotted down her phone number on a $10 bill and gave it to Celis-Acosta. Both Celis-Acosta and the $10 were allowed to cross into Mexico. Unfortunately, he must have lost her number because he never called.

Celis-Acosta continued running guns until his arrest in El Paso in February 2011, a month after the DOJ finally shut down Fast and Furious and a couple of months after Border Patrol Officer Brian Terry — as well as several hundred Mexican citizens — was murdered by drug runners using guns provided by F & F. To date, 19 suspects have been arrested and charged with gun-smuggling, but none has gone to trial.

Which presents an interesting legal challenge: How can a person be charged with smuggling guns into Mexico when the weapons were purchased with the approval of the ATF for that very purpose? Also, what incriminating information could a Mexican gun trafficker provide in court against DOJ/ATF authorities? Even more uncomfortable is the realization that if an alleged gunrunner is violating the law, then what do you call the federal agents who conceived and carried out the plan? Accomplice and complicity are two words that come to mind.

In the meantime, the family of slain BP Officer Terry remain in limbo, DOJ Attorney General Eric Holder hasn’t yet apologized for the ATF miscarriage and continues to stonewall a congressional investigation into the matter, and no one from the Obama administration has admitted any wrongdoing or even acknowledged who approved Fast and Furious.

As a phony token of official reaction to this fiasco, a few lower-level DOJ/ATF employees were shuffled around, and a U.S. attorney resigned in Arizona. None, however, has been prosecuted for what has evolved into one of the most stupidly concocted government operations in recent history.

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