Crime Trackers

May 7, 2012 12:11 PM

The ATF after Fast and Furious - Lessons learned

TUCSON - Under new leadership, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms says it doesn't want to repeat the mistakes of Fast and Furious.

The infamous program originated in the Phoenix Field Division, and allowed weapons to go into Mexico in hopes of tracing them to high-ranking members of the drug cartels.

But it "backfired" - thousands of guns went into Mexico, and two of them were traced back to the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in 2010.

Now, a new program to clean up the tarnished image of ATF is underway.

Carlos Canino is the Assistant Special Agent in charge. He's responsible for Tucson and New Mexico field offices. He says, "Our mantra is that it will never happen again and as a result of that, we are retrofitting and putting on a special type of training."

This training is geared to agents and officers along the Southwest border.

Richard Vasquez is the leading expert in firearms training. He's with ATF, and he teaches in the US and in Latin America. He's teaching the agents how to identify weapons. His goal is "that agents and officers understand the marking requirements, they understand how firearms function."

Canino says each weapon tells a story and agents need to know how to interpret the clues. "You know if you have a who-done-it, but there's a gun on the scene you can get great clues and take it down the road to help solve that crime."

Vasquez says after the class, the agents will be able to make better criminal cases and to protect the public.

This class is a model that will soon be taught around the country.


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