SEPTEMBER 14, 2011
The number of crimes connected to a disastrous federal experiment that allowed Mexican drug traffickers to obtain U.S.-sold weapons is significantly higher than previously disclosed, according to internal government documents obtained by Judicial Watch.
Known as Fast and Furious, the failed program was run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and allowed guns from the U.S. to be smuggled into Mexico so they could eventually be traced to drug cartels. Instead, federal law enforcement officers lost track of hundreds of weapons which are believed to have been used in an unknown number of crimes.
In the past few months several media reports have linked the lost guns to violence on both sides of the border while high-ranking officials in the Obama Administration, including Attorney General Eric Holder, insist they knew nothing about the reckless operation.
Among the first reports to surface; that Fast and Furious weapons were used to murder a U.S. Border Patrol agent (Brian Terry) in Peck Canyon Arizona in mid December. The guns—assault weapons known as AK-47s—were traced through their serial numbers to a Glendale, Arizona dealer that led to a Phoenix man the feds repeatedly allowed to smuggle firearms into Mexico.
But details like these have surfaced slowly as the administration scrambles to decide what version of facts it chooses to give Americans. What’s certain is that federal agents lost track of high-powered rifles and other guns, which have been recovered in violent crimes, both in the U.S. and Mexico. A few days ago, the nation’s Assistant Attorney General (Ronald Weich) admitted that Fast and Furious weapons had been used in at least three violent crimes in the U.S. and eight others in Mexico.
The crimes were outlined by Weich in a letter, obtained by Judicial Watch this week, to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy. It was a response to the Vermont Democrat’s months-old request for details of crimes associated with guns from the now infamous operation. Besides the Border Patrol agent’s murder, a Fast and Furious firearm (7.62mm Romarm/Cugir) was involved in aggravated assault against a police officer in Arizona, Weich tells Leahy in the letter.
In Mexico the ATF has reported eight events in which guns purchased under Fast and Furious have been recovered in violent crimes, Weich writes. Among them were four firearms used for “kidnap/ransom,” two in homicides and one used during a violent exchange between cartels. A separate stash of Fast and Furious weapons was recovered in various parts of Mexico after being involved in “non-violent crimes,” according to Weich’s assessment.
For instance, 10 guns were retrieved in Atoyac de Alvarez after the Mexican military rescued a kidnap victim. Another 10 Fast and Furious weapons were also identified in Durango following a confrontation between Mexico’s military and an “armed group.” An additional 10 rifles were found in Chihuahua after the kidnapping of two people and the murder of a Mexican public official’s family member.
More than likely, this is only the tip of the iceberg. House investigators have formally asked the Obama Administration to hand over “all records” involving the scandalous gun program and the White House and Justice Department’s role in the matter, including that of top administration security officials. Expect some serious stalling on the part of the “most transparent administration in history.”
In June a congressional oversight committee offered a snippet of what those records may expose. In a report titled “The Department of Justice’s Operation Fast and Furious: Accounts of ATF Agents” the committee includes alarming testimony from ATF agents directly involved in the operation. For instance, ATF agents predicted the gunwalking experiment would lead to deaths and that one operation supervisor was “delighted” that walked guns showed up at crime scenes in Mexico.
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