Moral Low Ground


Mexican Police Chief Luis Lucio Rosales Astorga Killed with WASR-10 Rifle Lost in ATF ‘Fast and Furious’ Fiasco

A3P Gun Appreciation Day

A semiautomatic ‘assault’-style rifle lost in the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) ‘Fast and Furious’ scandal was used by a suspected Mexican drug gang member to murder a Jalisco police chief earlier this year.

The Los Angeles Times reports Luis Lucio Rosales Astorga, chief of police in the Jaliscan city of Hostotipaquillo, and one of his bodyguards was killed in an ambush by as many as eight men on January 29. The chief’s wife and another of his bodyguards were wounded in the attack. One of the gunmen was armed with a WASR-10 rifle, a Romanian variant on the popular Russian AK-47.

According to the US Department of Justice, the rifle that killed the chief was traced back to Lone Wolf Trading Company, a Glendale, Arizona gun store from which illegal weapons purchases were permitted by the ATF under ‘Fast and Furious’ so that the government could track them and trace them to Mexican drug cartels. But almost all of the illegally-purchased guns were lost as they crossed the border into Mexico. According to Mexican authorities, 211 people have been killed or wounded by guns connected to ‘Fast and Furious.’

The WASR-10 used to assassinate Rosales was purchased on February 22, 2010, about three months into ‘Fast and Furious.’ Jacob A. Montelongo, 26, of Phoenix, has been identified as the buyer. Montelongo, who purchased at least 109 guns during ‘Fast and Furious,’ would later plead guilty to conspiracy, making false statements, and smuggling. He was sentenced to 41 months in prison last November.

Despite the high Mexican death toll attributable to ‘Fast and Furious’ guns, the story received little US attention until US Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was shot to death in December 2010 with a gun purchased under the program. Following Terry’s death, conservative politicians and right-wing media, led by Fox News, portrayed ‘Fast and Furious’ as the worst scandal of Barack Obama’s presidency. Many conservative pundits called ‘Fast and Furious’ “worse than Watergate,” the scandal that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon in 1974, and many called on Attorney General Eric Holder to step down.

The Terry killing did result in a series of investigations into ‘Fast and Furious’ and the firing or resignation of numerous top ATF officials. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives also voted Attorney General Holder in contempt of Congress after he repeatedly refused to hand over crucial documents related to the scandal to the House Oversight Committee.

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