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NATIONAL
March 3, 2011 | By Kim Murphy, Los Angeles Times
A federal operation that allowed weapons from the U.S. to pass into the hands of suspected gun smugglers so they could be traced to the higher echelons of Mexican drug cartels has lost track of hundreds of firearms, many of which have been linked to crimes, including the fatal shooting of a Border Patrol agent in December. The investigation, known as Operation Fast and Furious, was conducted even though U.S. authorities suspected that some of the weapons might be used in crimes, according to a variety of federal agents who voiced anguished objections to the operation.
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NEWS
November 13, 1997 | ELIZABETH SHOGREN, TIMES STAFF WRITER
A "rogue operation" within the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has accelerated approval of import permits for 150,000 modified assault weapons, despite President Clinton's clear intent to keep such guns out of the country, administration sources said Wednesday. The permits were approved "in an expedited manner" by a group of ATF agents who "knew full well that the weapons were all but banned by the president," said one senior administration official. The official noted that Clinton is on the verge of issuing an executive order barring imports of the rapid-fire arms.
BUSINESS
May 3, 1987
Generally speaking, media coverage of the defense business is characterized by slanted, sensational, anti-industry diatribes. But Ralph Vartabedian's Advanced Tactical Fighter story ("Subcontractors See Red When Looking at ATF," April 19) is damn good. When it comes to publicity, civil servants are notorious cowards, so we have seen government officials increasingly criticizing the industry to satisfy congressional and media critics. There also is increasing direct government participation in the actual management of defense programs.
NATIONAL
March 22, 2012 | By Richard A. Serrano
Manuel Celis-Acosta, the chief suspect in the ATF's "Fast and Furious" investigation who was caught but released at the U.S.-Mexico border in May 2010, was also stopped and released two months earlier while in possession of a Colt .38-caliber pistol purchased illegally under the gun-tracking operation. The revelation that officials twice declined to arrest their prime suspect shows that agents were keenly aware of Celis-Acosta's activities yet repeatedly turned down opportunities to charge him with felony offenses and bring a quick end to the Fast and Furious probe.
NATIONAL
December 22, 2011 | By Richard A. Serrano, Washington Bureau
A reputed Mexican drug cartel leader was charged in the ambush slaying this year of a U.S. immigration officer in Mexico — a killing that set off a massive search for the assailants on both sides of the border. Julian Zapata Espinoza, an alleged chief with the Zetas cartel, pleaded not guilty in a brief court appearance Wednesday in the killing of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Agent Jaime Zapata on Feb. 15. He and another agent, who was wounded, were ambushed in their car by a convoy of vehicles in the Mexican state of San Luis Potosi.
NEWS
September 20, 2012 | By Richard A. Serrano, This post has been corrected. See note at the bottom for details
WASHINGTON -- Democrats on Capitol Hill insisted a new independent report into deep failures in Operation Fast and Furious on the Southwest border vindicates the top leadership at the Department of Justice in the flawed gun-tracking program, while Republicans said it showed that Atty. Gen. Eric Holder's “inner circle” does not adequately serve the country's top law enforcement official. On Wednesday, the Justice Department's inspector general concluded that Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents; federal prosecutors in Phoenix; and top ATF and DOJ officials in Washington are all to blame for losing some 2,000 firearms on the U.S.-Mexico border after agents purposely allowed illegal gun purchases in hopes of tracking Mexican cartel leaders.
NATIONAL
July 17, 2011 | Richard A. Serrano
Congressional investigators probing the controversial Fast and Furious anti-gun-trafficking operation on the border with Mexico believe at least six Mexican drug cartel figures involved in gun smuggling also were paid FBI informants, officials said Saturday. The investigators have asked the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration for details about the alleged informants, as well as why agents at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which ran the Fast and Furious operation, were not told about them.
NATIONAL
February 2, 2011 | By Kim Murphy, Los Angeles Times
In a sign of the cost of widespread U.S. weapons smuggling into Mexico, federal law enforcement sources have confirmed that two guns, part of a series of purchases that were being monitored by authorities, were found at the scene of the firefight that killed a U.S. Border Patrol agent in southern Arizona. Sources said U.S. authorities did not have the ability to adequately monitor the movement of the guns toward the southern border, in part because current laws and low levels of staffing.
NEWS
September 19, 2012 | By Richard A. Serrano
WASHINGTON -- Fourteen federal law enforcement officials -- from field agents in Arizona to top managers in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Justice Department in Washington -- created a "significant danger to public safety" under Operation Fast and Furious , an investigative report found. Those officials still employed were referred for possible job discipline for carrying out the gun-trafficking operation that saturated the Southwest border with more than 2,000 illegally purchased firearms.
NEWS
August 29, 2013 | By Richard A. Serrano and Alexei Koseff
WASHINGTON - The Obama administration announced Thursday that it would close loopholes in the rules on acquiring machine guns and other dangerous weapons and ban U.S. military-style firearms sent overseas from returning to this country. The announcement of the new executive actions came as Vice President Joe Biden administered the oath of office to the new head of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the first Senate-confirmed director in the agency's history.
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