Posted: Sep 26, 2011 10:30 PM
Updated: Sep 27, 2011 8:29 AM
ORO VALLEY - The botched, ATF operation known as Fast and Furious is back in the spotlight and that's exactly what organizers of a town hall meeting wanted.
The program allowed suspected criminals to buy weapons along the border including here in Arizona. The agency's goal was to follow the firearms up the cartel food chain to major traffickers but ATF lost track of thousands of weapons, including at least two found following the shooting death of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.
In the fallout, Arizona's top federal prosecutor and the director of ATF resigned.
The Tucson Tea Party hosted a meeting Monday night up in Oro Valley with speakers from ATF, local law enforcement, and U.S. Congressman Paul Gosar. It was a small panel, but the crowd was anything but small.
Dolores Becker was one of the hundreds that packed into the auditorium. She said, "
We could hardly find a place to park. I was really shocked, but I was delighted."
The speakers explained what happened and didn't shy away from expressing how they really feel about it. Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu said, "Not only is this obscene and outrageous but it has resulted in 200 plus at least murders and deaths in Mexico."
He said the scary part is it's not done and he added we've already witnessed that it's not just in Mexico. Babeu said, "It's just the beginning of the story because 1500 of these guns are still outstanding and we don't know where they are."
People in the crowd said it was eye opening, even shocking to some, but they said that's exactly why they showed up.
Cinda Drescher said, "If you're uneducated, how can you make any meaningful decisions about anything."
But the speakers said education was only part of it. Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar may have got the biggest ovation when he talked about holding people accountable and that a few resignations weren't good enough.
Gosar said, "If main street America had done this we'd already be in jail. Criminal charges should follow those that allow this to occur."
Now that it's over the people said they hope they can sustain the energy from the meeting to reach the ultimate goal of accountability and transparency.
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