Weapons purchased during the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives‘ controversial “Fast and Furious” undercover investigation, which included the sale to “straw buyers” of hundreds of AK-47 assault rifles, have turned up at a dozen violent crime scenes across the Southwest, the Justice Department told a Senate committee.
In a letter to Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the committee’s ranking Republican, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the Justice Departmentconfirmed that the illegally purchased weapons recently were found at the sites of at least 11 violent crimes.
The department did not specifically identify any of the locations, but congressional sources and others said the weapons were located at crime sites in Arizona and Texas. More than 40 weapons, the sources said, were recovered near El Paso, Texas, alone, all of which were traced back to the Fast and Furious operation.
The 11 sites are in addition to the Arizona desert location just north of the border where U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian A. Terry was killed Dec. 15 in a firefight involving Mexican gunmen. Terry, 40, was among four Border Patrol agents attempting to arrest bandits who prey on illegal immigrants when he was fatally wounded about 10 miles north of the Arizona-Mexico border near Rio Rico, 60 miles south of Tucson, Ariz.
Two AK-47 assault rifles found at the scene of the Terry killing were traced by ATF to the Lone Wolf Trading Co. in Glendale, Ariz. They were among three AK-47 variant Romanian WASR-10 assault rifles purchased on Jan. 9, 2010, by Jaime Avila Jr., a suspected straw buyer and one of the Fast and Furious targets.