An arsenal found in Mexico included at least five assault rifles that U.S authorities trace to the federal operation known as Fast and Furious, reports the Wall Street Journal. The discovery appears to confirm fears that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives operation failed to stop guns from ending up with drug gangs in Mexico. The program, run by the ATF’s Phoenix office, monitored weapons purchases by suspected gun traffickers who were believed to be funneling weapons to Mexican drug cartels. Some lawmakers say ATF didn’t have the means to track the guns and shouldn’t have used such tactics.
Fast and Furious, which became public after ATF whistle-blowers contacted lawmakers earlier this year, is now the subject of congressional probes. Mexican and U.S. officials say weapons trafficked mostly from U.S. border states are fueling the cartel wars that have killed more than 40,000 people in Mexico since 2006. The lawmakers claim the operation allowed suspected traffickers to buy more than 2,500 weapons in the U.S. and may have helped fuel the trafficking the ATF is supposed to try to prevent. In April, Mexican police found a cache in Ciudad Juarez that included two dozen AK-47-style rifles, three antiaircraft machine guns, dozens of grenades and more than 26,000 rounds of ammunition. At least five rifles seized were purchased in the U.S. by suspects the ATF was tracking in the Fast and Furious operation.