Fast and Furious weapons turn up in Phoenix area crimes

As if no one could have seen this coming, Phoenix area law enforcement has turned up several “walked” firearms in their investigations of local crimes. Local ABC affiliate ABC15 is all over this and to their credit has worked hard to connect the dots, this by reporter Lori Jane Gliha.

ABC15 – Phoenix ATF agents recently testified during a Congressional hearing that they knowingly allowed weapons to slip into the hands of straw buyers who would then distribute the weapons to known criminals.

The strategy was designed to lead ATF officials to key drug players in Mexico, but some agents admitted they never fully tracked the weapons after suspicious buyers purchased them.

“It made no sense to us either, it was just what we were ordered to do, and every time we questioned that order there was punitive action,” Phoenix Special Agent John Dodson testified.

According to the testimony of three Phoenix ATF agents, including Dodson, hundreds of weapons are now on the streets in the United States and Mexico, possibly in the hands of criminals.

Dodson estimated the number could be as many as 1,800 weapons.

Reporters found several “smoking guns” (pun fully intended) in their investigation. In both Glendale and Phoenix.

The ABC15 Investigators uncovered documents showing guns connected to at least two Glendale criminal cases and at least two Phoenix criminal cases also appear in the ATF’s Suspect Gun Database, a sort-of watch list for suspicious gun sales.

All four cases involve drug-related offenses. In one Glendale police report dated July 2010, police investigators working with DEA agents served search warrants at homes near 75th and Glendale avenues in Glendale, and 43rd and Glendale avenues in Phoenix as part of a “large scale marijuana trafficking” investigation.

Police investigators reported they “obtained information that members of the (trafficking) organization were using the homes…as stash houses used to store large amounts of marijuana temporarily.”

They reported finding hundreds of pounds of marijuana, more than $63,000 in U.S. currency and three guns inside the homes. One of the recovered weapons, a Romarm/Cugir WASR-10 rifle, appeared in an official ATF Suspect Gun Summary document in November 2009, proving agents knowingly allowed the suspicious gun sale, months before the weapon turned up at the crime scene.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is on this as well, as his office is following this story while pressing the BATFE for answers, even though the BATFE is stonewalling the local reporter’s requests for information.

Grassley has been demanding information from ATF leaders, trying to determine who had knowledge of the controversial strategy and when they knew.

His staff also sent public records requests to every sheriff’s department in Arizona and several local Valley departments, requesting information about weapons that have turned up at Valley crime scenes that may have been connected to the Fast and Furious operation.

Meanwhile from ABC15:
ATF representatives denied ABC15’s open records request for documents showing other weapons connected to the Fast and Furious case that may have been involved in other crimes in the United States.

The BATFE has (surprise,surprise) declined requests for an interview by the local station. My own feeling on this “[email protected]#k” of an operation is that DOJ higher (Holder) ups saw this as a step towards Obama’s endrun around the 2nd Amendment, but that’s just me.

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