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WASHINGTON - CBS News has obtained secretly recorded conversations that raise questions as to whether some evidence is being withheld in the murder of a Border Patrol agent.
The tapes were recorded approximately mid-March 2011 by the primary gun dealer cooperating with ATF in its "Fast and Furious" operation: Andre Howard, owner of Lone Wolf Trading Company in Glendale, Arizona. He's talking with the lead case ATF case agent Hope MacAllister. The conversations refer to a third weapon recovered at the murder scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
Law enforcement sources and others close to the Congressional investigation say the Justice Department's Inspector General obtained the audio tapes several months ago as part of its investigation into Fast and Furious. Then, the sources say for some reason the Inspector General passed the tapes along to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Arizona: a subject in the investigation. It's unclear why the Inspector General, who is supposed to investigate independently, would turn over evidence to an entity that is itself under investigation. The Inspector General's office had no immediate comment.
In the audiotapes, ATF Agent MacAllister tells Howard that a third weapon recovered at the Brian Terry murder scene last December is an SKS assault rifle. Agent MacAllister claims to know that the SKS "had nothing to do with" the Brian Terry murder and, unlike the WASR's, did not trace back to the Lone Wolf gun store. It's unclear why a weapon would be, in essence, missing from the evidence disclosed at the crime scene under FBI's jurisdiction.