WASHINGTON — Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley Thursday said it was unsurprising that a gun lost by U.S. federal agents had wound up in the hands of Mexican drug lord El Chapo, and warned guns from the failed “Fast and Furious” program could be in circulation for another 100 years.
“It doesn’t surprise me one bit. There were about 2,000 guns that were under Fast and Furious, and we think that there’s only been 500 of them recovered. So these guns will be around for maybe a century killing people, you know?” Grassley told BuzzFeed News Wednesday afternoon.
On Wednesday the AP reported that the Justice Department had confirmed that one of the rifles seized earlier this year at El Chapo’s hideout in Los Mochis, Mexico, was one of more than 1,400 guns that agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms lost between 2009 and 2010.
Fast and Furious was a program designed to identify and arrest illegal gun runners: federal agents allowed suspects to purchase the guns in the hopes of tracing them to buyers. Instead, an estimated 2,000 guns went missing, and most — but not all — ended up in the hands of Mexican drug cartels. In 2010, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed with a Fast and Furious gun.
Grassley, who had not yet been briefed on the El Chapo case, couldn’t say whether he will open new hearings into the program. But he slammed the administration’s unwillingness to cooperate with congressional investigators, who have been looking into the program.
“On hearings, you know what? They haven’t even cooperated with us on the investigations we’re doing, and we’d probably have answers to a lot of these questions that we’ve asked for,” Grassley said.
John Stanton is a national reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New Orleans. In 2014, Stanton was a recipient of the National Press Foundation’s 2014 Dirksen Award for distinguished reporting of Congress.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.