New information released today indicates that Fast and Furious wasn't really a botched sting operation, but a taxpayer-backed firearms delivery service for ruthless Mexican drug cartels.
Fox News has reported that ATF agents actually bought weapons from a gun store in Arizona and knowingly sold those firearms to illegal straw buyers.
Previously, it was known only that ATF agents encouraged gun stores to make suspicious sales to straw buyers. But now, it appears the federal agents themselves acted as middlemen between the straw buyers and the Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel. All in, the cartel spent an estimated $1.25 million on illegal Fast and Furious guns.
If true, this latest allegation means that the ATF handed out guns against a slew of federal criminal regulations, and ignored longstanding law enforcement policy that guns are never allowed to "walk" (leave the scene or drop surveillance).
In addition, there have been fatalities directly attributed to guns from the Fast and Furious program. At least three Fast and Furious related guns were found at the murder scene of U.S. Border Agent Brian Terry. The Mexican government has estimated that 200 of its citizen have been killed by weapons tied to the Fast and Furious program.
Apart from the primary allegation of taxpayer cash for illegal weapons, Fox reported that an ATF agent who was opposed to the operation was ordered to partake in it to force his silence.
Based on new documents, Fox outlined at least one instance in which ATF bought and sold guns to an illegal buyer, despite strong objections from an agent involved. Fox wrote that:
"Agent John Dodson was ordered to buy six semi-automatic Draco pistols… an unusual sale, Dodson was sent to the store with a letter of approval from David Voth, an ATF group supervisor. Dodson then sold the weapons to known illegal buyers, while fellow agents watched from their cars nearby."
Agent Dodson apparently recognized the operation was a terrible idea. His ATF group supervisor, Agent Voth did not want to continue surveillance on the weapons, but according to Fox, Dodson:
"felt strongly that the weapons should not be abandoned and the stash house should remain under 24-hour surveillance… for six days in the desert heat... defying direct orders from Voth. A week later, a second vehicle showed up to transfer the weapons. Dodson called for an interdiction team to move in, make the arrest and seize the weapons. Voth refused and the guns disappeared with no surveillance."
Dodson eventually went public with his allegations about the Fast and Furious program after the murder of U.S. Border Agent Brian Terry.
Congressional investigators continue to look into Fast and Furious and rely on whistle-blowers for much of their information. Rep. Darell Issa (R-Cal) has stated that he believes there may be a cover-up all the way to the top echelons of the Justice Department.
For more background, you can watch a video of Congressman Issa in an interview on Fast and Furious last week, courtesy of Fox: