DOJ and ATF inappropriately and recklessly relied on a 20-year old ATF Order to allowguns to walk. DOJ and ATF knew from an early date that guns were being trafficked tothe DTOs.
ATF agents are trained to “follow the gun” and interdict weapons whenever possible.Operation Fast and Furious required agents to abandon this training.
DOJ relies on a narrow, untenable definition of gunwalking to claim that guns were never walked during Operation Fast and Furious. Agents disagree with this definition,acknowledging that hundreds or possibly thousands of guns were in fact walked. DOJ’smisplaced reliance on this definition does not change the fact that it knew that ATF couldhave interdicted thousands of guns that were being trafficked to Mexico, yet chose to do nothing.
ATF agents complained about the strategy of allowing guns to walk in Operation Fastand Furious. Leadership ignored their concerns. Instead, supervisors told the agents to“get with the program” because senior ATF officials had sanctioned the operation.
Agents knew that given the large numbers of weapons being trafficked to Mexico, tragicresults were a near certainty.
Agents expected to interdict weapons, yet were told to stand down and “just surveil.”Agents therefore did not act. They watched straw purchasers buy hundreds of weaponsillegally and transfer those weapons to unknown third parties and stash houses.
Operation Fast and Furious contributed to the increasing violence and deaths in Mexico.This result was regarded with giddy optimism by ATF supervisors hoping that gunsrecovered at crime scenes in Mexico would provide the nexus to straw purchasers inPhoenix.
Every time a law enforcement official in Arizona was assaulted or shot by a firearm, ATFagents in Group VII had great anxiety that guns used to perpetrate the crimes may trace back to Operation Fast and Furious.
Jaime Avila was entered as a suspect in the investigation by ATF on November 25, 2009,after purchasing weapons alongside Uriel Patino, who had been identified as a suspect inOctober 2009. Over the next month and a half, Avila purchased 13 more weapons, eachrecorded by the ATF in its database within days of the purchase. Then on January 16,2010, Avila purchased three AK-47 style rifles, two of which ended up being found at themurder scene of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. The death of Border Agent BrianTerry was likely a preventable tragedy.
Phoenix ATF Special Agent in Charge (SAC) William Newell’s statement that the indictments represent the take-down of a firearms trafficking ring from top to bottom, and his statement that ATF never allowed guns to walk are incredible, false, and a source of much frustration to the agents.
Despite mounting evidence to the contrary, DOJ continues to deny that Operation Fastand Furious was ill-conceived and had deadly consequences.