Senator: ATF encouraged gun sales to smugglers

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by Jared Dillingham

Bio | Email | Follow: @JaredDillingham

azfamily.com

Posted on April 15, 2011 at 9:45 PM

PHOENIX - A US Senator said he has proof the ATF purposely allowed Valley gun shops to sell guns to suspected smugglers.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley released emails Friday, which reveal some store owners were worried about their guns ending up with Mexican drug cartels.

One store owner sent an email to the ATF, writing, "We just want to make sure we are cooperating with the ATF and that we're not viewed as selling to the bad guys ... and that none of the guns could or would make it south of the border."

The ATF agent responded, "We are continually monitoring these suspects using a variety of investigative techniques." The ATF told the store owners they were tracking the suspected smugglers, and building cases against them.

Sen. Grassley said that plan backfired.

In December, the store owners' fears became reality. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in a shootout with a cartel south of the border. Two of the AK-47s used in the shooting were traced back to a Valley gun store.

Sen. Grassley said the US Justice Department has repeatedly denied allowing the sale of guns to suspected smugglers. He sent this latest round of whistle-blower emails to Attorney General Eric Holder, and is waiting for a response.

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