New information emerging from investigations into the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive’s “Fast and Furious” program indicate the top gun trafficking suspects may have been paid informants for other government agencies.
The pretense of the “Fast and Furious” program was to allow straw purchases of weapons, track the guns, and identify the higher-ups supplying them to crime syndicates in Mexico. Whistle-blowing field agents have come forward saying they were ordered not to intervene at moments they thought were critical in preventing future crimes. Since then, several guns traced to the program have been linked to crimes in both the United States and Mexico.
The controversy has sparked calls for the resignation of ATF Director Kenneth Melson. But – according to testimony given by Melson in private to Congressional investigators – the inquires should look beyond the ATF.
A letter sent this week to Attorney General Eric Holder by Congress members Darrel Issa and Charles Grassley outlined some of the key points of the meeting with the ATF director. The Congress members wrote they have “very real indications from several sources that some of the gun trafficking ‘higher-ups’ that the ATF sought to identify were already known to other agencies and may even have been paid as informants”. They also stated the evidence they collected “raises the disturbing possibility that the Justice Department not only allowed criminals to smuggle weapons but that taxpayer dollars from other agencies may have financed those engaging in such activities”.
The agencies named in the letter are the FBI and the DEA. Both are agencies that, like ATF, fall under the umbrella of the Department of Justice; a body the congressional investigators say has been less than forthcoming with information.