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Tipsheet

ATF Wants to Destroy Evidence from Fast and Furious Scandal

Matt York

The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms is reportedly planning to destroy a number of firearms from Operation Fast and Furious ten years after the scandal took place. 

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In a letter to ATF Director Steven Dettelbach, incoming House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan is asking that the firearms be preserved. 

"Yesterday, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) notified us that it intends to destroy the firearms associated with the botched Operation Fast and Furious. I strongly urge you to reconsider this decision and request that you preserve this evidence," Jordan wrote. "Although the ATF apparently intends to forget its dangerous misconduct in Operation Fast and Furious, the scandal is still a matter of public concern. In fact, earlier this year, prosecutors in Mexico charged seven individuals with crimes related to Operation Fast and Furious, including Mexico’s former top police official and a former Mexican Federal Police commander. Given the potential for ongoing criminal and possible civil actions, it is not in the interest of justice for the ATF to destroy potential evidence associated with Operation Fast and Furious. I request that you immediately take steps to preserve all evidence associated with Operation Fast and Furious and confirm in writing that you have done so."

From 2009-2010 the Obama administration purposely trafficked thousands of firearms from lawful gun dealerships in the U.S. to Mexican cartels. Two of the firearms were found at the murder scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, who was killed battling smugglers on December 14, 2010. 

The news of ATF's plans come after a number of evidence firearms from Operation Fast and Furious were sloppily stored at the ATF National Destruction Branch (NDB) facility in Martinsburg, West Virginia. According to a recent Department of Justice Inspector General report, a number of them were stolen by a security guard. 

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"While the NDB has implemented improved controls over firearms at its facility, we found certain overarching ATF policies that are not addressed in current NDB Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and not evident in current NDB operations but would further mitigate the risk of firearms in NDB custody being lost or stolen without detection," the IG found. "Specifically, the NDB stored firearms in its custody, including evidence from the ATF’s 'Operation Fast and Furious' investigation, on top of its temporary vault instead of inside its more secure vault. These items are stored in shipping cases that are accessible using one of the many ladders kept in the same area of the facility. We found that this practice was inconsistent with ATF policy."


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