Crumpler met most of the buyers at gun shows in Florida, a hot spot for arming the hemisphere because of the state’s gun-loving culture and Florida’s position as a gateway to Latin America..
“I was the pawn of the government in an unconstitutional operation,” Crumpler claimed in one court filing.
“I was allowed to perform illegal activities after I should have been contacted by the ATF,” he said. “This was done so that the Obama administration could enact stricter gun laws based on crimes and evidence in which they participated and created.”
To support his case, Crumpler attached copies of conservative media reports, some of which suggested Obama wanted to limit gun rights by way of the Fast and Furious investigation. Many glossed over the fact that Fast and Furious was based on a Bush-era program, Operation Wide Receiver, that allowed guns to be “walked” across the border starting in 2006.
Crumpler echoed the anti-Obama gun paranoia, which has picked up again as the Nov. 6 election draws near, at the beginning of the investigation when he told an undercover agent that he would sell a gun with no paperwork so that “Obama won’t know you have it.”
The court file does indicate discomfort by ATF officials with the liberal firearms laws that can allow weapons to be sold at gun shows with no traceable paperwork.
A self-described “Lone Ranger” and decorated Vietnam war veteran, Crumpler said in court documents that he began selling weapons almost as a hobby and then began to rely on the cash as sales “started to explode.” He said he didn’t know that the buyers were linked to drug cartels ranging from Puerto Rico to Honduras.
ATF hopped on Crumpler’s trail when it noticed he had been making frequent, large-scale purchases from a federal firearms dealer, who had to report the transactions to ATF.
About the same time, in October 2009, a separate group of agents in the Phoenix, Ariz. office launched Fast and Furious.
ATF and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona “broke from the traditional approach of confronting suspected straw purchasers,” according to the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General’s report.
Univision broadcast a report Sept. 30 that it had identified 57 never-before-reported Fast and Furious weapons used in two separate massacres in Juarez.
The Republican-led House had pushed through two measures holding Attorney General Eric Holder in civil and criminal contempt for failing to turn over certain Fast and Furious documents. The inspector general’s report indicated Holder had no involvement in Fast and Furious and that it appeared to be peculiar to federal officials in Arizona.
The ATF holds up Operation Castaway as a success. As for the five weapons linked to Crumpler, the ATF told Univision in a written statement that the agency “found out about the weapons when they had already been shipped.”
However, a review of Crumpler’s plea agreement shows that on four occasions in January 2010, agents observed him making “apparent” firearms transactions from Orlando to Miami. The buyers were never stopped in those cases, the records show.
An ATF spokesman, Drew Wade, said he couldn’t comment on details of those transactions because of public-records limitations and because the agency doesn’t disclose law-enforcement techniques.
In the cases where Crumpler made sales to suspected foreign nationals and illegal immigrants, ATF got local authorities to make traffic stops that led to the seizure of those weapons. That happened twice at the Miami Gun Show, once involving a British national from Barbados and another time involving a man named Jesus Puentes. A Colombian native, he was later sentenced in the case and said the weapons he purchased were bound for Venezuela.
After agents stopped Crumpler on Jan. 26, 2010, he helped ATF agents in Orlando seize 26 more firearms bound for Honduras.
When agents caught Crumpler, they told him he was selling to cartel go-betweens.
Crumpler knew the guns were going overseas and that he was probably breaking the law. His wife told him as much, he admitted in court records.
“It didn’t start out what it turned into,” he said. “I wanted someone to catch me.”