Three federal firearms agents told a House committee yesterday that dozens of gun traffickers suspected of working for Mexican drug cartels were “allowed to walk free” during an investigation that allowed hundreds of guns to fall into the hands of cartel enforcers and other criminals along the southwest border, reports USA Today. Phoenix-based Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents apologized to the family of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, slain last year by alleged cartel members in a firefight where two weapons bought in the risky ATF program were recovered.
“What we have here is a colossal failure of leadership,” said ATF agent Pete Forcelli. “We weren’t giving guns to people for killing bear, we were giving guns to people to kill other humans. This was a catastrophic disaster.” Forcelli and agents John Didson and Olindo Casa said they repeatedly raised concerns to their bosses about the risks associated with ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious, designed to dismantle large cartel trafficking networks. They said their warnings were dismissed. The program began in 2009 and abruptly ended shortly after Terry’s death Dec. 15.