Mexican legislators are demanding an investigation into a U.S. law enforcement operation that allowed hundreds of weapons to flow into the hands of Mexican drug cartels amid claims from a ranking legislator that at least 150 Mexicans have been killed or wounded by guns trafficked by smugglers under the watch of U.S. agents, the Los Angeles Times reports. U.S. authorities say manpower shortages and the high number of weapons sold resulted in their losing track of hundreds of guns, from pistols to .50-caliber sniper rifles.
A federal agent deeply involved in the Phoenix-based operation said it was “impossible” that U.S. authorities did not know the weapons were headed for Mexico. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has acknowledged that at least 195 weapons sold in Arizona under Operation Fast and Furious have been recovered in Mexico, traced as a matter of routine via serial numbers after their recovery from crime scenes, arrests and searches. The Mexican lawmaker, Huberto Benitez Trevino, did not say how the new casualty statistics were calculated. A U.S. law enforcement official on the border, a defender of the ATF program, didn’t know how Mexican officials came up with the casualty figure, saying, “It’s probably just a good political thing to say, and how are you going to refute it?”