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Eleven new violent crimes involving guns bought under the controversial Fast and Furious weapon-running scheme have been identified by the Justice Department. And Kenneth Melson, the acting head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives (ATF) likely knew about the program more than a year earlier than he has previously acknowledged, assistant attorney general Ronald Weich told two leading senators.
The new revelations, reported by the Los Angeles Times, are sure to reignite the controversy surrounding the operation in which ATF officers were told not to intercept semi-automatic weapons that they knew would end up in the hands of Mexican drug cartel leaders.
The department now knows of 11 instances beyond Terry’s killing, where a Fast and Furious weapon “was recovered in connection with a crime of violence in the United States.” The Times says 40 of the firearms were recovered at one crime scene in El Paso, Texas, and 17 more at five other scenes in Arizona.
Weich said Melson “likely became aware of” Fast and Furious on December 9, 2009, as part of a briefing following a seizure of weapons in Douglas, Ariz. Melson had said he did not know about it until January this year. Early this summer, when Melson was under pressure to resign, he took the extraordinary step of giving a secret deposition in which he claimed the DoJ was pressuring his agency into not cooperating with Congress’s investigation into the program.