The botched “Fast and Furious” operation carried out by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms is easily the biggest scandal in the agency’s history. Congress and the public are demanding answers, and the ATF is not going to come out unscathed.
Guns from ATF operation still being found at crime scenes
The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) sold firearms to known gun-traffickers who supply Mexican cartels with weapons in a botched sting operation. This has resulted in more than 1,000 individual weapons being supplied to dangerous gangs from February 2009 to mid-2010, according to the Washington Post. Guns from the “Fast and Furious” operation keep showing up at crime scenes, according to Reuters. At least 122 were recovered at crime scenes in Mexico and 274 in the United States, 12 of which were discovered at crime scenes. The ATF encouraged gun shops to allow “straw buyers” to purchase guns like AK-47 assault rifles and .50-caliber sniper rifles, which would be sold to buyers for the cartels. The guns were traced via recorded serial numbers. An estimated 1,600 guns were sold, according to CNN, at least.
ATF kept Mexican government unaware
Congressional hearings have been held concerning the botched ATF operation, headed by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). The congressional inquiry says the operation, called “Fast and the Furious” was conceived by the ATF Phoenix office as a way to track straw buyers for cartels, in the hopes of tracing the smuggling routes, according to the Los Angeles Times. The ATF attache to the Mexican government was not informed of the operation and didn’t find out about it until guns from “Fast and Furious” were found in Mexico. A cable was posted from the U.S. Embassy in Mexico concerning the flow of weapons into Mexico via “Operation Fast and Furious” in July 2010, but apparently the tide of illegal guns under the watch of the ATF wasn’t slowing. Two guns leaked by the ATF were found in December of 2010 at the scene of a firefight that killed U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.
Black eye for ATF
The documents and testimony that have come from the investigation into this operation suggest that the Phoenix office of the ATF did all it could to keep the rest of the ATF unaware of what was going on. The ATF insists that it never let firearms “walk” into cartel hands, but it appears that it did just that, and without notifying the Mexican government of what it was doing. The ATF’s malfeasance has cost lives. It isn’t known whether an ATF-leaked gun killed Brian Terry, but two were recovered at the scene where he was killed. Two “Fast and Furious” guns were recovered from members of the cartel who kidnapped and murdered Mario Rodriguez, brother of the attorney general for the Mexican state of Chihuahua, according to the Christian Science Monitor.
Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/report-details-objections-in-atf-to-fast-and-furious-gun-operation/2011/07/25/gIQADbOtZI_story.html
Los Angeles Times: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-fast-furious-cable-20110726,0,904876.story?track=rss
Christian Science Monitor: http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2011/0726/How-Mexican-killers-got-US-guns-from-Fast-and-Furious-operation
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