Bungled ATF Sting Put Guns in Hands of Drug Cartels
...and one was linked to the murder of Border Patrol agent
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Mar 4, 2011 3:41 AM CST
Updated Mar 4, 2011 6:00 AM CST
A cache of seized weapons is displayed Tuesday, Jan 25, 2011 in Phoenix. A    (AP Photo/Matt York)

(Newser) – A bungled Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms sting operation allowed hundreds of guns to fall into the hands of Mexican criminals, and more than one ATF agent is now saying "I told you so." The bureau hoped to trace the guns from American sellers to the top echelon of drug cartels, but they lost track of hundreds of them, the Los Angeles Times reports. Almost 200 were only recovered after they were linked to crimes, including the December murder of a Border Patrol agent.

ATF agents say they raised concerns about the potential for the operation to go wrong "quite vocally to the point of yelling, screaming" but were overridden. "We're not talking about bags of dope. We're not letting the guy walk away with a stolen flat-screen TV. We're talking about guns. Our job is to keep guns off the street and out of criminals' hands and prevent them from being used in violent situations," one agent says.

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Showing 3 of 12 comments
GeminiMishy
Mar 4, 2011 12:22 PM CST
You mean handing real-life people-killin guns to real-life people-killin people was a bad idea? Balderdash!
beckjr2000
Mar 4, 2011 11:41 AM CST
How can anyone be surprised by anything that happens under this Dept. of Justice?
thesmartboomer
Mar 4, 2011 10:05 AM CST
Seriously, you all posting under me are idiots - is all you can say typical repeated, canned response regarding the war on drugs? First off, it's the god damned A.T.F. Not the DEA. Not The FBI. Not the CIA. The A.T.F. deals with people and guns. They weren't out there fighting a "failed drug war" - they were doing a sting, under their creed, to stop the purchasing of illegal firearms. It was nothing related to the drug war, only by the sensationalized "drug cartels" moniker. Not every Mexican criminal is in a drug cartel being stopped because the 'war on drugs'. Why am I getting so pissed? Because I complete agree, the drug war is a failed and bullshit project. Does that mean you have to cry about it at every turn? The people that keep mentioning 'legalizing marijuana' as an attempt to retort a simple police error are simply morons - do you really think the drug cartels even give a shit about smuggling pot? More weed is grown in the U.S. than Mexico. The number of arrests for marijuana use has plummeted in the last five years. Sure, you can complain about the pot clubs that have got shut down, but not only is that totally irrelevant, it's obvious. The DEA can't turn it's back when you rub your shit in it's face. How many guys sitting on their couch enjoying a joint get raided by the DEA - not more than a couple a year, and they usually only get swept up in other busts coincidentally. Stop being such whiny babies. The A.T.F. is one of the few governmental law enforcement agencies that actually serve their purpose and do it extremely efficient a majority of the time. But of course, you probably wouldn't know that, since you were too busy complaining about a police state to recognize that benefits of having protection from extremely violent worldwide drug smuggles are crime syndicates.