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FBI, DEA tied to Mexico gun fiasco

July 8, 2011 at 6:01 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, July 8 (UPI) -- The U.S. firearms chief is implicating other agencies in the spreading scandal over guns sent to Mexico, congressional sources say.

Kenneth Melson, acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, has told congressional investigators some Mexican drug gangsters his agency targeted in the Fast and Furious gun-trafficking scheme were paid informants for the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration, the Los Angeles Times reports.

He reportedly said the other agencies never revealed those ties to the ATF, which might have called off the operation sooner had it known.

Under Fast and Furious, the ATF let firearms be bought illicitly in the United States to trace them to cartel kingpins. But the agency lost track of the guns, and many turned up at crime scenes in Mexico, as well as Nogales, Ariz., where a U.S. Border Patrol agent was killed.

"Our investigation has clearly expanded," an unnamed source told the Times. "We know now it was not something limited to just a small group of ATF agents in Arizona."

In a letter sent to Attorney General Eric Holder Tuesday, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, wrote, "This whole misguided operation might have been cut short if not for catastrophic failures to share key information."

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