Documents obtained through a lawsuit recently issued against the City of Phoenix by government watchdog Judicial Watch reveal a weapon from the Department of Justice's Operation Fast and Furious was used to injure two people in a 2013 gang-style assault on an apartment complex. When the incident occurred and during investigation afterward, police worked with federal law enforcement agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Department of Homeland Security, FBI and Drug Enforcement Agency in the case, raising suspicions the assault wasn't simply a typical, local gang shootout and prompted questions about the details of where the weapons that were used came from.
“Thanks to our lawsuit, Congress has been able to confirm what Judicial Watch already reported – that a Fast and Furious weapon was used in yet another violent crime that terrorized and injured residents of Phoenix,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement. “Our lawsuit against Phoenix exposed how the Obama cover-up of Fast and Furious is ongoing. Eric Holder’s Department of Justice is a mess. It has endangered the public and is engaged in an ongoing cover-up of its insanely reckless Fast and Furious gun-running operation. Judicial Watch appreciates the refreshing diligence of Senator Grassley and Congressman Issa in pursuing the truth about Fast and Furious.”
Lone Wolf Trading Company is based in Glendale, Arizona and was tapped by ATF to help with Operation Fast and Furious back in late 2009. ATF agents lied to Lone Wolf and said guns sold under surveillance at the store would never be trafficked across the southern border to Mexican cartels or used in crimes in the United States.
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley and Chairman of the House Oversight Committee Darrell Issa sent a letter to Assistant Attorney General James Cole late Thursday afternoon demanding more information about why DOJ failed to inform Congress of the connection between the AK-47 used in the assault and Fast and Furious as their investigation of the lethal program continues.
"Once again, we have learned of another crime gun connected to Fast and Furious. The Department did not provide any notice to the Congress or the public about this gun," the letter states. "Documents obtained by Judicial Watch under Arizona’s public records law show that law enforcement officials recovered a Fast and Furious gun last summer in connection with a shooting that left two individuals wounded."
"Based on the serial number [1977DX1654] from the police report obtained by Judicial Watch and documents obtained during our Fast and Furious investigation, we can confirm that the assault rifle recovered in the vehicle on July 30, 2013, was purchased by Sean Christopher Stewart. Stewart pled guilty to firearms trafficking charges resulting from his involvement with Operation Fast and Furious. Stewart purchased this particular firearm on December 8, 2009, one of 40 that he purchased that day while under ATF surveillance,” the letter continues. "According to the Phoenix Police Department report, ATF traced the firearm on July 31, 2013, the day after Phoenix police officers recovered it. Yet, over a full year has passed, and the Department has failed to notify the Committees."
The letter also details that during his time as a gun trafficker for Mexican cartels, Stewart was able to purchase over $176,000 worth of weapons, which included 260 Ak-47s, 20 9mm pistols and a .50 caliber rifle. Stewart is serving nine years in prison after being sentenced in November 2012 on a number of federal charges.
Grassley and Issa have asked DOJ to respond to the following questions by October 30, 2014:
1) Was the firearm recovered on July 30, 2013 connected with any other crimes in Mexico or the U.S.?
2) As of the date of this letter, what is the total number of weapons associated with Fast and Furious that have been recovered in the U.S. and successfully traced?
3) As of the date of this letter, what is the total number of weapons associated with Fast and Furious that have been recovered in Mexico and successfully traced?
4) Of the U.S recoveries, how many were recovered in relation to an incident of a violent nature? Please describe in detail the date and circumstances of each recovery that has not previously been described in the Department’s responses to our letters.
5) Of the Mexican recoveries, how many were recovered in relation to an incident of a violent nature? Please describe in detail the date and circumstances of each recovery that has not previously been described in the Department’s responses to our letters.
Assistant Attorney General James Cole, who played a large role in the cover-up of Operation Fast and Furious, announced his resignation from DOJ today.
A Justice Department official says Deputy Attorney General James Cole told staff Thursday of his plans to resign after nearly four years. The official says that Cole will remain in the position to help the transition of a new deputy attorney general.
This post has been updated.