A sting operation by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms called “Fast and Furious” has been revealed to have gone horribly wrong. The ATF allowed guns to be purchased for distribution to Mexican drug cartels in the hopes of making a huge bust. Instead, the operation flooded the Southwest with illegal firearms.
Gun trafficking sting goes awry
The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and the Department of Justice are scrambling to undo damage and contain fallout from a botched operation called “Fast and Furious.” In the operation,the ATF encouraged firearms dealers to allow criminals to purchase guns, including assault rifles, according to CBS. It was intended to smoke out major players in Mexican drug cartels but resulted in guns being purchased by dangerous criminals and used in a large number of crimes. A Congressional inquiry is beginning into the matter. By June of 2010, more than 1,600 firearms had been purchased for more than $1 million in U.S. gun stores in Phoenix, Ariz. Since then, 700 “Fast and Furious” guns have been recovered at the scene of crimes, according to Fox, including 250 in the United States. The first hearing will be on Monday, June 13.
ATF allowed guns to be sold that killed people
Mexican officials estimate that guns sold by the “Fast and Furious” operation have been involved in the shooting of 150 Mexican police personnel. Two guns from the “Fast and Furious” operation were recovered by the Drug Enforcement Agency at the scene of a December shootout between drug smugglers and Border Patrol agents that resulted in the death of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, according to CBS. The operation was fairly simple: the ATF contacted gun store employees and owners and encouraged them to sell guns to people they suspected of being gun smugglers for drug cartels. Gun smugglers will purchase a few guns, usually assault rifles such as AK-47s and AR-15s, essentially the same rifle carried by American soldiers and police, and then give them to a broker to transport to Mexico to be sold at a markup. The idea was to “catch a bigger fish” by tracking the guns, but more than 2,000 more guns are in the hands of cartels.
Porous borders and laws
Gun rights advocates and gun industry lobbyists dispute the notion that American guns are arming dangerous criminals, according to the Wall Street Journal. However, the ATF recently released a study that said 70 percent of a sample of 29,284 firearms captured by Mexican authorities were found to have come from the United States, though Mexican authorities don’t trace every weapon captured. It was also found that most guns sold in Mexico that are obtained from U.S. dealers come from Texas and Arizona, according to the San Antonio Express News, the border states with the laxest of gun laws. Federal law prohibits “straw buying” of assault weapons, or buying a gun for someone else. However, dealers just have purchasers sign a document saying they are buying multiple AK-47s for themselves.
Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304259304576375961350290734.html?mod=googlenews_wsj
San Antonio Express News: http://www.mysanantonio.com/default/article/High-powered-weaponsprized-by-Mexican-cartels-1401359.php#page-1
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