Federal gun agents approved the sale of 20 handguns to a man they knew was supplying arms to a vicious Mexican drug cartel as part of the controversial “Operation Fast and Furious” program, according to court documents that USA Today
cited in a report today.
The Fast and Furious plan was to let shadowy gunrunners get weapons, in the hope that they would lead the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to bigger criminals. The program was canceled after it was revealed that some of those weapons ended up being used in crimes, including the murder of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry
According to court documents and congressional investigators, ATF agents told a Glendale, Ariz., gun dealer to go ahead and special order 20 guns for Uriel Patino, even though the agents knew that Patino was supplying weapons to the Sinoloa drug cartel.
The gun dealer himself didn’t want to go through with the transaction, but an ATF supervisor told him it was fine, USA Today reported.
Patino bought 72 AK-47 assault weapons during a 10-day stretch in March 2010, officials said.
In all, Patino’s arms acquisitions total more than 700, accounting for more than a third of an estimated 2,000 weapons bought as part of the ATF operation, officials said. The ATF now admits that lost track of most of those 2,000 firearms.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, are spearheading investigations into Fast and Furious and similar ATF schemes. They contend that the Department of Justice coached witnesses appearing before congressional investigators.
The controversy has created pressure from some to get rid of Attorney General Eric Holder for not stopping the schemes.
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