CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"Gun Inquiry Costs Officials Their Jobs"

From the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Tuesday replaced two top Justice Department officials associated with an ill-fated investigation into a gun-trafficking network in Arizona that has been at the center of a political conflagration.

. . .

Run by the bureau’s Phoenix division, the operation, called Operation Fast and Furious, ran from late 2009 to early 2011. Its strategy was to watch suspected “straw” gun buyers, rather than moving as quickly as possible to arrest them and seize the weapons, in the hope of identifying higher-level conspirators — as drug investigations are often conducted.

The operation was internally controversial because the firearms bureau traditionally puts a priority on getting guns off the street. It also lacked adequate controls — one straw purchaser bought more than 600 weapons, and agents lost track of hundreds. Many later turned up at crime scenes in Mexico, and two were recovered at a site in Arizona where a United States Border Patrol agent was killed.

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