Originally Posted by Publius42
On orders from superiors, the agents did not act quickly against those buyers, and when the agents were ordered to lose track of the shipments in various ways, they did as ordered. When you put it that way, it kind of suggests a different problem than the one the NY Times and the rest are suggesting.
They didn't have to be ordered to lose track of the guns. They had no way to track them.
One of the earlier gun-running operations, IIRC, did have tracking devices attached to or embedded in the guns, and my recollection is that the Mexicans found them and disabled them, rendering the operation a failure. The F&F guns did NOT have any tracking devices. The operation was not briefed even to BATFE agents in Mexico, or to any Mexican authorities. Which means that, even if the U.S. agents had managed to keep eyeballs directly on all 2000 guns right to the border ... once they were across the border they were gone. No tracking devices, nobody in law enforcement even knew they existed, let alone that they were coming into Mexico.
There was no need to "order" anyone to lose track of them. The operation was designed to lose track of them. The only "tracking" contemplated was to "trace" them back to U.S. gun shops after they were used in crimes in Mexico and recovered. Any innocent (or guilty) Mexicans killed by the guns were just collateral damage.