Sunday, September 18, 2011
Authorities Confirm Gun Found in Arizona Is Third at U.S. Crime Scene Tied to ATF’s ‘Fast and Furious
(FOXNEWS) Authorities confirm a weapon from the failed ATF program ‘Operation Fast and Furious’ was found at a violent crime scene in Maricopa, Ariz. in 2010. This is the latest in a series of cases where Fast and Furious guns have been linked to violent crimes across the U.S. and Mexico.
The two guns found at the scene were an AK-47 and a Beretta pistol, according to the Arizona Department of Public Safety. The AK-47 is linked to Fast and Furious, according to ATF. The weapons were found inside a stolen truck in March 2010 after the driver slammed into two DPS vehicles while trying to evade members of the Arizona Vehicle Theft Task Force, ABC 15 reports.
The driver, Angel Hernandez Diaz, was reportedly arrested and charged with multiple crimes, including flight from a pursuing law enforcement vehicle, aggravated assault on an officer with a dangerous instrument or deadly weapon, theft of means of transportation and misconduct involving a weapon, according to court documents.
Fast and Furious was an operation launched in late 2009 by the Phoenix office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to follow gun purchasers in hopes that suspects would lead investigators to the heads of Mexican cartels. But hundreds of high-powered rifles and other guns ended up in Mexico, and many now accuse the ATF and the Justice Department of letting the guns “walk” even after safety concerns were raised.
Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich said last week that three weapons linked to Operation Fast and Furious had been used in violent crimes in the U.S.
Weapons linked to the program were used in a December attack along the Southwest border that killed U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Months later, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif, launched his committee’s investigation, as the Justice Department’s inspector general also opened an inquiry, at Attorney General Eric Holder’s direction.
On Wednesday, Holder said for the first time that not only he but also other higher-ups at the Justice Department were not aware of the operation as it was being carried out. Holder also suggested politics could be a driving force behind Republican lawmakers’ forceful inquiries into the matter.
Recently, the man who headed ATF in the midst of it, Ken Melson, was reassigned, and U.S. attorney Dennis Burke, who oversaw the prosecution of cases coming out of the operation, abruptly resigned.
At least three men have been charged in connection with the murder of agent Terry, though only one is in U.S. custody. The Justice Department recently informed lawmakers that cases coming out of Operation Fast and Furious will now be led by prosecutors from outside Arizona.