Tags: fast | furious | guns | found

'Fast and Furious' Gun Turns Up at Mexico Shootout

Thursday, 02 Jan 2014 12:55 PM

By Melanie Batley

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A gun from a botched U.S. government operation to crackdown on drug trafficking was found at the scene of a shootout between Mexican authorities and alleged cartel gunmen.

According to CNN, at least one AK-47-style gun turned up at the scene of a Dec. 18 shootout that left five alleged cartel members dead in Puerto Penasco, a popular tourist site in Mexico.

Witnesses reported hours of shooting and grenade explosions, and Mexican authorities used helicopters to attack fleeing suspected cartel gunmen.

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The gun was one of about 2,000 firearms issued by the Phoenix office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) as part of a bungled gun-tracking operation called Fast and Furious.

The aim of the operation was to find and prosecute high-level traffickers by allowing low-level weapons purchasers to cross the Mexican border. Many of the firearms carried across ultimately fell into the hands of drug cartels and other criminals, and have never been recovered.

"ATF has accepted responsibility for the mistakes made in the Fast and Furious investigation and at the attorney general's direction we have taken appropriate and decisive action to ensure that these errors will not be repeated. And we acknowledge that, regrettably, firearms related to the Fast and Furious investigation will likely continue to be recovered at future crime scenes," ATF said in a statement carried by CNN.

Fast and Furious has been the subject of a congressional probe into how the operation was allowed to continue, despite its failings. Attorney General Eric Holder has said the tactics of the program should never have been authorized in the first place and a report by the Justice Department's inspector general cleared him of any wrongdoing.

Holder reportedly moved to shut down the ATF program when he discovered it. Nonetheless, he was viewed as an uncooperative witness during hearings before the GOP-controlled House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which engineered the passage of a congressional contempt sanction against him for refusing to turn over requested information. Holder refused the request at the time because he insisted the program was still under investigation by Justice Department lawyers.

"In Operation Fast and Furious, the Mexican drug cartels found an easy way to supplement their own illegal ways. Worse yet, the Obama administration has yet to publicly hold anyone accountable for this disastrous policy," Iowa GOP Sen. Charles Grassley said in a statement Tuesday, according to CNN.

"Unfortunately, guns from Fast and Furious will be found in operations like this for years to come," he added.

Grassley, along with California GOP Rep. Darrell Issa, led the congressional probe of Fast and Furious.

Guns from the Fast and Furious operation have surfaced in other deadly shootings, including a shooting in 2010 that killed a U.S. border agent, and another shooting in January 2013 that killed two people in Mexico.

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