Congressman Darrell Issa, California Republican, and Senator Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, sent a joint letter to Attorney General Holder on Monday demanding answers about a gun trafficking suspect, involved in the 2010 fast and furious operation, who was caught, released, and arrested almost one year later.
According to the L.A. Times, who first broke the story about the released suspect, Manuel Fabian Celis-Acosta was later arrested in February 2011 after the Fast and Furious operation closed down:
Seven months after federal agents began the ill-fated Fast and Furious gun-tracking operation, they stumbled upon their main suspect in a remote Arizona outpost on the Mexican border, driving an old BMW with 74 rounds of ammunition and nine cellphones hidden inside.
Detained for questioning that day in May 2010, Manuel Fabian Celis-Acosta described to agents from theBureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosiveshis close association with a top Mexican drug cartel member, according to documents obtained this weekend by the Times/Tribune Washington Bureau.
The top Fast and Furious investigator, Special Agent Hope MacAllister, scribbled her phone number on a $10 bill after he pledged to cooperate and keep in touch with investigators.
Then Celis-Acosta disappeared into Mexico. He never called.
Had they arrested him red-handed trying to smuggle ammunition into Mexico, Fast and Furious might have ended quickly. Instead, the program dragged on for another eight months, spiraling out of control.
Celis-Acosta continued slipping back and forth across the border, authorities say, illegally purchasing more U.S. weapons and financing others. He was not arrested until February 2011, a month after Fast and Furious closed down.
“This May 2010 stop was yet another opportunity to apprehend Acosta, put him in jail and most importantly, take him out of commission as a trafficker. The ATF case agent with responsibility for Fast and Furious was on the scene and allowed the trafficking network’s ringleader to leave him a free man,” Becca Watkins, a spokesperson for Issa, told Politico. “This new information, obtained by the committee late last week, is further evidence that Fast and Furious, from its inception, was a reckless program that permitted guns and criminals to endanger the public.”
Rep. Issa, who chairs the House Oversight Committee, has threatened A.G. holder with contempt if the Attorney General does not release documents his committee has been asking for. The Department of Justice’s Inspector General has been investigating the Fast and Furious controversy for almost a year. The IG has 80,000 pages of documents to go through. According to Mr. Issa, the Mr. Holder has only provided his committee with 6,000 pages.
“I think the sooner we get the IG report the better,” said House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, when I asked him about his thoughts on the recent developments of Fast and Furious. Mr. Hoyer, however, continues, to stand by A.G. Holder, saying:
“I have confidence in the Attorney General. I think he’s pursuing this. As you know, this program existed under President Bush. It continued, and I think there were substantial mistakes made, which led to bad tragic results. And I think that the Attorney General and I think that the authorities under him have modified their actions, but clearly we’re all concerned about instances like that.”