US probes how gun bought by ex-official found at Mexican crime scene

PHOENIX Wed Dec 19, 2012 10:47pm EST

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PHOENIX (Reuters) - Federal authorities were probing how a gun bought by a former top U.S. federal agent in Phoenix ended up at the scene of a fatal shootout that killed a beauty queen in Mexico, a U.S. law enforcement official said on Wednesday.

The weapon, found after a face-off between members of the Sinaloa drug cartel and Mexican military police, had been originally purchased by former Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Assistant Special Agent in Charge George Gillett, said the U.S. official, who declined to be named.

Killed in the deadly gun battle was Mexican beauty queen Maria Susana Flores Gamez and four others. The U.S. Justice Department Office of the Inspector General was investigating, the official said.

Gillett, who could not be reached for comment, was a key supervisor in a botched ATF sting known as "Fast and Furious," a controversial operation that allowed more than 2,000 weapons to slip across the U.S. border into Mexico.

The bungled operation, triggered by gun purchases made in the Phoenix area, was envisioned as a way to track weapons from the buyers to senior drug cartel members.

Federal agents who ran the operation focused on building cases against the leaders of a trafficking ring, and did not pursue low-level buyers of those firearms.

Two of those guns were discovered at the murder scene of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, killed in a shoot-out with suspected border bandits in southern Arizona in December 2010. It was not clear if the fatal bullets came from the weapons.

The gun found at the November crime scene in Mexico was an FN Herstal pistol, a high-powered weapon favored by Mexican drug cartel members, according to the law enforcement official.

The source said the weapon was purchased in the Phoenix area. Gillett acknowledged to CBS News the gun was likely his, but said he sold it through the Internet in 2011.

He declined to tell the Los Angeles Times why he purchased the pistol or how it ended up in the fatal shooting in Mexico.

"I've got no comment. I can't discuss it," he told the paper. "But it was a lawful transaction."

Justice department officials in Washington, D.C., did not respond to a request for comment.

(Editing By Cynthia Johnston)

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Comments (3)
JamVee wrote:
Maybe it was a lawful transaction, but it didn’t show much common sense, for a person in his position.

The stink from that whole operation, continues to grow exponentially. Fast & Furious is destined to go down in history as one of the most ill-conceived and BOTCHED government operations in history . . . Maybe right below the Bay of Pigs Invasion.

Dec 20, 2012 7:59am EST  --  Report as abuse
Mutantone wrote:
More of the Chickens coming home to roost:
if only that were the extent of the “Fast and Furious” agenda Obama’s agenda was to make a reason to further restricting Citizens from having guns to that end
Rahm Emanuel reports that he knew about the operations while he was at the White House so if he did Holder sure did. Not only high caliber weapons but conversion kits to make semiautomatic weapons full auto, and explosives as well and the makings for grenades and an uncounted number of rocket launchers.
Operation Gunrunner–in which the government authorized the sale of weapons with the intent of letting these weapons fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels, which were used to Kill an American border agent.
Operation Castaway–in which the government authorized the sale of weapons knowing they would fall into the hands of Honduran gangs, such as MS13 and the Mara Salvatrucha and the rival Mara 18, An estimated 20,590 people died violently here in the last five years, according to the Madrid-based nonprofit Observers of Violence in massive shoot outs to control the drug industry.
Project Gangwalker the ATF and the DOF allowed the straw purchases of weapons which eventually ended up in the hands of United States gang members in Indiana” Operation Community Shield,” individuals are from El Salvador, three are from Mexico, one is from Honduras and one is from Haiti. ICE said the individuals are members or associates of the following street gangs: MS-13, Sur-13, and Zoe Pound.  Charged in connection with the shooting of an Indianapolis police officer last week are gang members, the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office Gonzalez-Ramirez is a member of the Puros Vatos Locos street gang, and Taboada-Perez is a member of the SCT-13 gang. Both have tattoos that express allegiance to those gangs, authorities said. and other weapons have been found at crime scenes in that state and surely have spread out from there to other gangs.

I say the Mexican Government should Sue the Obama administration for their actions!

Dec 20, 2012 12:13pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Wulff wrote:
Fast and Furious strikes again. You get a real tingly feeling that the Justice Dept. will investigate. Reminds me of having the fox guard the chickens, but, heaven knows, anything goes with the Obama administration.

Dec 21, 2012 2:26am EST  --  Report as abuse
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