Weapons Seized By U.S. Border Enforcement Security Task Force. Photo by U.S. Coast Guard.
Latin America: Week in Review, Mexico, United States

“Operation Fast And Furious” Under Scrutiny For Passing Guns To Mexican Drug Smugglers

May 5, 2011 By Staff

Weapons Seized By U.S. Border Enforcement Security Task Force. Photo by U.S. Coast Guard.

Today in Latin America

Top Story — A federal operation run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms known as “Fast and Furious” has allowed hundreds of guns into the hands of Mexican drug traffickers.

The original idea behind the program was to sell guns to suspected drug smugglers in order to track them.

But the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) lost track of hundreds of the weapons, some of which turned up later at crime scenes. Two guns sold to suspected drug smugglers as part of the program were linked to the murder of a border patrol agent in Arizona in December.

“With the number of guns we let walk, we’ll never know how many people were killed, raped, robbed,” said John Dodson of the ATF in an interview with the Washington-based Center for Public Integrity.

The Senate will hold a hearing to determine who authorized the program. Attorney General Eric Holder will testify.

Both Holder and President Barack Obama deny that they authorized the ATF to sell guns to suspected Mexican drug smugglers, though documents released by congressional investigators indicate that the Justice Department approved wiretaps related to the gun tracking program.

The documents do not indicate that knowledge of the program extended beyond the Arizona ATF and Justice Department offices.

“The Attorney General takes the allegations that have been raised seriously, which is why he has asked the Inspector General to investigate and made clear to everyone in the Department that under no circumstances should guns be allowed to cross the border,” the Department of Justice said in a statement Wednesday.

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