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ATF Superiors Told Agents Not to Seize Guns In Cartel Gun Operation

June 16, 2011  | 


A placard honors Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry during National Police Week 2011. Photo: Paul Clinton.

Federal firearms agents investigating gun traffickers were sidelined by their superiors in the "Fast and Furious" operation tracking guns to Mexican drug cartels, the agents testified in a Congressional hearing.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agents told the House Oversight and Government Reform committee they were expressly told by supervisors not to "intervene and interdict" the loads of guns, reports FOX News.

Phoenix ATF agents Peter Forcelli and John Dodson told the committee they were repeatedly shut down, when they questioned their superiors.

"We weren't giving guns to people who were hunting bears. We were giving guns to people who were killing people," Forcelli told the committee, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Fast and Furious was part of Project Gunrunner, an ATF operation aimed at tracking the flow of guns to criminal groups in Mexico. Since it began in 2006, Gunrunner is credited with the seizure of more than 10,000 firearms and the arrests of more than 800 suspects.

In 2009, ATF's Phoenix office began Fast and Furious, in which agents monitored but did not disrupt the sale of guns from American dealers to suspected "straw purchasers," who obtain guns for criminal organizations.

About 2,000 to 2,500 weapons were sold in this way, reports the New York Times.

The ATF came under increasing scrutiny earlier this year, when several of these weapons were traced to the suspects who ambushed Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Agent Jaime Zapata.

A AK-47 variant legally sold by a Dallas-Fort Worth firearms dealer was transported to the Los Zetas cartel operators who used it to attack special agent Jaime Zapata and Victor Avila Jr. Agent Zapata was killed during the Feb. 15 ambush.

In March, Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano told U.S. senators conducting Judiciary Committee hearings that she was not aware of the possible involvement of an ICE agent in the ATF operation.

By Paul Clinton

Related:

Weapon Used In ICE Agent's Slaying Traced to Texas Man

Dear Mr. President

Napolitano Unaware of ICE Agent's Link to Letting Guns 'Walk'


Comments (2)

Displaying 1 - 2 of 2

Tom @ 6/17/2011 7:35 AM

IMHO, this is one of the most ill conceived operations in law enforcement history. I wonder if the decision making trail will lead back to Attorney General Eric Holder who in my mind is the most incompetent attorney general in my 63 years. This should not be a negative reflection of the men and women of ATF who put their lives on the line every day but the policy makers who dreamed this stuff up. This country needs leaders with some common sense which appears to be absent in this administration.

Rick @ 6/17/2011 8:27 AM

This seems like an operation aimed at further anti-gunners goals of banning all weapons. Mrs. Brady was guilty of a straw purchase, Feinstein and Boxer have CCW's but want to confiscate all firearms from citizens while allowing illegals to obtain taxpayer funded benefits. This is insane!

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