Conflict & Justice

House Committee to hear testimony how US ATF ran guns to Mexican cartels

A Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) senior agent was told to let guns cross the U.S. Mexican border, the ATF whistleblower told CBS News in March.

Insiders called it "letting guns walk," into the hands of criminals who would use them in Mexico and on the border, agent John Dodson said.

They were hoping to nab a major Mexican drug cartel by allowing hundreds of guns to be purchased with the expectation they might cross the border and even be used in crimes while the case was being built, according to documents and interviews, the Center for Public Integrity Reported.

The Phoenix-based operation code named “Fast and Furious” — was met by objections from some front-line agents like Dodson who feared they were allowing machine guns to “walk” into the hands of drug runners, ATF memos show. 

In advance of a hearing today, the House Oversight Committee released a report containing new allegations in the ATF gunwalker case.

"We armed the Sinaloa cartel," Carlos Canino, the ATF's attache in Mexico, said. "It's disgusting." Canino will reportedly testify in the hearings.

But ATF documents show the results of this secret policy, according to CBS — The guns the ATF let go, began appearing at major crime scenes in Mexico.

Dodson feels the ATF was partly to blame for escalating violence in Mexico.  One email quoted, "985 killed in March 2010... most violent month since 2005."

"We just knew it wasn't going to end well," Dodson said. "There's just no way it could."

In Dec 2010, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was gunned down with two assault rifles the AFT had let go a year before. Terry's family testified before a House "Fast and Furious" Committee investigation in June.

Among the House Committees findings, reportedly:

-The ATF let 41 AK-47s and a .50 Caliber machine gun pass into Sonora Mexico in 2009.

-Top Justice Department officials allegedly approved of guns into Mexico, one calling it "an acceptable practice."

-President Obama denied he or Attorney General Eric Holder authorized the operation.

-More names of Justice Department officials who knew about "gunwalking" will be disclosed in the hearing.