(CBS NEWS) Another weapon from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agency’s controversial Operation Fast and Furious was recently recovered at a Mexican crime scene, CBS News has learned. Congressional investigators say the crime scene was likely where a recent shootout took place between reported Sinaloa drug cartel members and the Mexican military, in which Sinaloa beauty queen Maria Susana Flores Gamez and four others were killed.
According to Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, the Justice Department did not notify Congress of the Fast and Furious firearm recovery in November, even though Grassley has requested an accounting of weapons that surface from the case. During Fast and Furious, ATF allowed more than 2,000 weapons, including giant .50-caliber guns, to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels and other criminals. Other so-called “gunwalking” operations by ATF let hundreds more guns hit the street. Most of them have never been recovered.
The latest known recovery is a Romanian AK-47-type WASR-10 rifle. It was picked up at a crime scene Nov. 23 in Ciudad Guamuchil, Sinaloa, Mexico. That’s the same area and weekend of the shootout involving Flores Gamez’s death. A trace report shows the rifle was purchased by Uriel Patino, the Fast and Furious suspect who allegedly bought more than 700 weapons while under ATF’s watch. Records show Patino bought the rifle and nine other semi-automatic rifles at an Arizona gun shop March 16, 2010.