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Comments from the U.S. Attorney General Holder

In testimony today before the United States Senate Appropriations Subcommittee, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder addressed recent allegations involving gun trafficking investigations and stated that he has made it clear to the law enforcement agencies and prosecutors working along the Southwest Border that no one in the Department of Justice should allow guns to illegally cross the border into Mexico.

Following is the Attorney General’s direct testimony today on this topic:

Sen. Hutchison:
Let me ask you about the ATF issue that I mentioned in my opening statement. There are reports that there was actually knowledge of the ATF of the sales that were going on of arms out of America illegally into Mexico. Reportedly, I think to be able to trace them. But after the shooting of an ICE agent and the BP agent in Arizona, what is your view on that? I know that you solicited an IG study. Is this the correct use of Project Gunrunner? Of course it’s a great concern.

Attorney General Holder:
“The mission of ATF is to stop the flow of guns into Mexico and to people who shouldn’t have guns here in the states. ATF has served greatly here and in Mexico.

“It is true, there have been concerns. I take those allegations very seriously and that is why I asked the IG to report on it. Letting guns ‘walk’ is not something that is acceptable. Guns are different than drugs or money when we are trying to follow their trail. That is not acceptable. We cannot have a situation where guns are allowed to walk. And I made that clear to attorneys and agents in charge of ATF. “

Additional general background information:

Both Presidents Obama and Calderon have made clear that fighting criminal activity along the U.S.-Mexico border – including the illegal trafficking of guns to Mexico – is a priority for both governments.

The mission of ATF and other law enforcement agencies is to stop the flow of illegal weapons and drugs across the border, and it will continue to be. The Department of Justice is aware of the questions that have been raised by ATF agents and takes those very seriously – that is why the Attorney General has asked the Acting Inspector General to get to the bottom of what happened.

The Attorney General has made it clear to the law enforcement agencies and prosecutors working along the U.S. Southwest Border that no one in the Department of Justice should allow guns to illegally cross the border into Mexico.
“Fast and Furious” was one of many priority anti-gun trafficking operations conducted on U.S. territory. It was a successful operation that broke up a trafficking ring in the United States and led, among other things, to the indictments announced January 25 in Phoenix against 20 defendants accused of illegally trafficking firearms from the United States into Mexico.
U.S. law enforcement briefed Mexican counter-trafficking officials as plans unfolded on operations in the United States through January 25, 2011, when 19 of the 20 indicted defendants were arrested. Mexican law enforcement officials were present for these arrests on January 25 in Phoenix.
Attorney General Holder’s prepared remarks can be found at www.justice.gov