Federal agents “abandoned” surveillance of suspicious gun purchases along the Southwest border for months and may have allowed hundreds of weapons to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartel operatives and other criminals as part of a risky investigative strategy aimed at dismantling cartel operations, says a congressional study reported by USA Today. The “Operation Fast and Furious” program stopped after two of the rifles were found at the scene of a U.S. border agent’s slaying last year.
Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s Dec. 15 death was “likely a preventable tragedy,” the report from Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) found, indicating that the suspect who allegedly bought the two rifles was linked to at least two other suspicious gun purchases before buying the weapons seized at Terry’s shooting. The weapon used to kill Terry has not been identified. One Arizona agent told congressional investigators there was such dread that more deaths would follow the Terry murder because of the investigative strategy that “panic” swept the office in January when Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) was critically wounded in the attack that left six dead, including U.S. District Judge John Roll.