Drug Lords Targeted by ATF Were Working for FBI
Yet more Fast and Furious bungling revealed
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 22, 2012 4:40 AM CDT
A whole lot of trouble could have been avoided if ATF agents had kept this guy in custody the first time they arrested him.   (FBI)

(Newser) – The investigation into the ATF's ill-fated "Fast and Furious" gun-trafficking operation has been going on for months, and it keeps uncovering new layers of screw-ups. Newly released records show that the operation could have been wrapped up much earlier—without leaving hundreds of illegal guns in the hands of Mexican criminals—if ATF agents had realized that two prominent cartel members they hoped their main target would lead them to were FBI informants, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Gun trafficker Manuel Celis-Acosta was the operation's main target, but when he was stopped near the border in Arizona in a car containing 74 rounds of ammunition and a ledger detailing gun purchases, he was released after promising to help investigators track down the two cartel members. The top Fast and Furious investigator wrote her number on a $10 bill—but he never called. ATF agents didn't discover that the cartel members were informants until Celis-Acosta was arrested again eight months later.