10 AZ sheriffs seek investigation of ‘Fast and Furious’
Ten Arizona sheriffs slammed the Obama administration on Friday over a botched federal operation that lost track of up to 1,400 high-powered rifles sold to suspected straw purchasers for Mexican drug gangs.
The sheriffs called for the president to launch an independent investigation and for Attorney General Eric Holder to step down or be fired. They also said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ 2009 operation, known as “Fast and Furious,” was a betrayal of state law enforcement.
“We’re down there busting our butts every day trying to keep the American public safe,” said Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever, whose jurisdiction is on the Arizona-Mexico border.
A number of guns have been recovered at crime scenes in Mexico, and two of the guns were found at the scene where Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was shot to death in Southern Arizona on Dec. 14. It’s still unclear whether the fatal bullet came from one of those weapons or another gun.
About that ‘fatal bullet’:
Smugglers are turning to Arizona and other Southwest border states to buy ammunition that they then sneak across the border for use by Mexican drug cartels.
Most of the ammunition used by the cartels comes from the United States, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives told The Arizona Republic.
‘Fifty rounds might cost you 15 bucks here,’ said Jose Wall, senior trafficking agent for the agency in Phoenix. ‘But sell them in Mexico, I’ll bet you can make $45.’
Hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition are purchased each year from online retailers, big-box stores and at gun shows in Arizona and other Southwest border states and then are smuggled across the border.
Over the past five years, seizures of ammunition at Arizona’s six ports of entry along the Mexican border have risen steeply, from 760 rounds in fiscal 2007 to 95,416 in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.
That reflects both a stepped-up effort by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to check southbound vehicles for guns and bullets and a rising demand for ammo by drug cartels.
Laws in the U.S. that once treated ammunition sales as rigorously as gun sales were repealed in 1986 and haven’t been re-enacted.
I don’t hear any sheriffs calling for reform of ammunition sales regulations.
The ‘stepped up effort’ to check southbound vehicles refers to the fact that until about a year ago, traffic going into Mexico was hardly ever subject to searches. Since they started doing searches of southbound traffic, they have found tons of money, lots of felons, and lots of weapons and ammunition. That was my first clue that someone was starting to take the Mexican cartels seriously in this country. My second clue will come when they legalize marijuana here.