Via KVOA – Tucson:
GLENDALE, ARIZONA – A U.S. government gun-smuggling operation known as Operation Fast and Furious is at the center of hearings in the nation’s Capitol. The U.S Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives mis-managed the gun-walking program and helped fuel Mexico’s drug cartel wars. Up until now, the Obama Administration has argued the operation was only locally run out of Phoenix. But members of Congress are pressing the Obama Administration to reveal what was concealed in a series of documents about the flawed operation that the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., fought to conceal. Last summer, a federal judge agreed.
But now, the News 4 Tucson Investigators have uncovered documents that show even more guns turned up missing and those were never revealed to congressional investigators. Was Fast and Furious even more badly mismanaged than the public was led to believe?
In October 2010, a little more than two months before weapons from Fast and Furious turned up at the murder scene of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, someone broke into the Glendale gunstore whose owner had agreed to sell weapons to cartel gunbuyers for the ATF.
According to Glendale Police Department reports, the burglars broke into the adjacent church, then smashed down the wall separating the church from Lone Wolf Trading Company. Thirty-seven handguns were stolen. Lone Wolf Trading Company owner André Howard declined to speak with the News 4 Tucson Investigators about the burglary, saying he is under subpoena by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Howard is also a defendant in a civil lawsuit filed by Terry’s family. In a statement to the court last summer, Howard’s attorneys wrote:
“The employees of defendant United States either orchestrated the burglary to obtain even more weapons from Lone Wolf to place in the hands of wrong-doers, or advised others as to the secret location inside lone wolf where the guns were stored for some other purpose.”
ATF spokesman Tom Mangan acknowledged the October burglary but said the same people recruited by ATF to make gun-buys were not to blame.
“No it’s not. It’s an open investigation still.”
Weapons from the theft turned up at a shoplifting in Albuquerque, here in Arizona and as far south as Hermosillo, Sonora. ATF had surveillance inside the store at the time. Sources tell us the ATF had mounted surveillance video cameras to manage Fast and Furious. We are told the cameras were running on a loop at the time and ATF could have identified the burglars.
Mangan said that was not true.
“No, that’s inaccurate. It was, for the information that I have and what I’ve looked into through supervisors and various agents, it was operational during business hours.”
But people intimately involved in the ATF’s gun-walking programs say otherwise.
Tucson resident Mike Detty sold guns to cartel members from Mexico for the ATF under a different gun-walking program, Operation Wide Receiver. That operation was managed by the ATF under the Bush Administration.
“I was constantly coached by the ATF agents, ‘you really got to be careful, Mike, because this might be the last night that they are going to buy guns from you or this might be the night that their decide to keep their money,'” he recalled.
Detty has dealt with these cartel gunbuyers and with the ATF for several years. He’s convinced the same people used by the ATF broke into the gunstore.
“From my viewpoint this is a way of people he was dealing with, it was one way lower their cost per unit,” Detty said.
The Fast and Furious hearings continue in Congress and the Justice Department has until October to release information about what’s been hidden in emails and other documents related to the flawed program. We will continue to keep you posted as to whether the weapons stolen that night under the ATF’s scrutiny become a part of the Congressional hearings. If you have a story for News 4 Tucson Investigators, email email@example.com or call 520-955-4444.