Friday, January 19, 2018

First convictions handed down in Fast and Furious weapons operation

PHOENIX — Two men pleaded guilty to buying guns that were destined to be smuggled into Mexico, the first convictions in the federal government's botched Operation Fast and Furious.

The men were so-called straw buyers who acknowledged purchasing guns that they knew were headed to Mexican drug gangs.

The goal of the federal government's investigation was to catch weapons-trafficking kingpins, but firearms agents lost track of many weapons they were trying to trace to smuggling ringleaders, and some guns ended up at crime scenes in Mexico and the United States.

Jacob Wayne Chambers and Jacob Anthony Montelongo each pleaded guilty in federal court Monday to a conspiracy charge. Montelongo also pleaded guilty to dealing guns without a license.

The pair admitted being part of a 20-person smuggling ring that is accused of running guns into Mexico for use by the Sinaloa drug cartel. Two rifles bought by the ring were found at the scene of a December 2010 shootout near the Arizona-Mexico border that mortally wounded Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. The two guns weren't purchased by Chambers and Montelongo and instead were bought by another alleged ring member.

Several agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have said they were ordered by superiors to let suspected straw buyers walk away from Phoenix-area gun shops with AK-47s and other weapons believed headed for Mexican drug cartels, rather than arrest the buyers and seize the guns there. Chambers bought 79 guns from three licensed dealers in Arizona from September 2009 to December 2009 and got paid $50 for each AK-47 and $100 for a .50-caliber rifle.

Montelongo purchased 109 guns from eight dealers in Arizona from January 2010 to July 2010. He was paid $50 for pistols, $100 for rifles and $150 each for six .50-caliber rifles.

Each faces up to five years in prison and a maximum $250,000 fine. Their sentencing is set for May 21.

Comments
10 Things to Know for Today

10 Things to Know for Today

Among 10 Things to Know: Congress likely racing toward a government shutdown; Pope Francis shocks Chile by accusing sex abuse victims of slander; California DA says couple's abuse of 12 kids became torture
Updated: 10 minutes ago

AP Top News at 6:26 a.m. EST

AP Top News at 6:26 a.m. EST
Updated: 10 minutes ago
South awaits thaw from snowstorm, icy roads and numbing cold

South awaits thaw from snowstorm, icy roads and numbing cold

Southerners are waiting for a thaw that would end days of icy roads, snow, broken pipes and numbing cold
Updated: 10 minutes ago
Forecast: One more chilly morning before a return to Florida weather

Forecast: One more chilly morning before a return to Florida weather

Tampa Bay can finally bid farewell to this week’s stretch of brutally cold conditions.10News WTSPFeels-like temperatures around the Tampa Bay area It will be a bit of a slow return to normal, as some residents are still waking up to frost and sub-fr...
Updated: 10 minutes ago
Turkey says Syria offensive 'de facto' underway

Turkey says Syria offensive 'de facto' underway

Turkey's defense minister says country determined to carry out a military offensive against enclave in northwest Syria, saying Syrian Kurdish fighters pose ever increasing threat to Turkey
Updated: 15 minutes ago
US oil output is booming and seen outpacing Saudis, Russia

US oil output is booming and seen outpacing Saudis, Russia

A global energy agency says that U.S. oil production is growing quickly and is forecast to top that of heavyweights Saudi Arabia and Russia this year
Updated: 17 minutes ago

Russian police in unexpected encounter with crocodile

Russian police have had an unexpected encounter while searching a house in St. Petersburg _ a crocodile in the basement
Updated: 19 minutes ago

Lundby wins 4th straight ski jumping World Cup event

Maren Lundby won her fourth straight World Cup ski jumping event to build on her status as the gold-medal favorite for next month's Pyeongchang Olympics
Updated: 21 minutes ago

UK holiday spending squeezed by Brexit-related inflation

Official figures show that retail sales in Britain in the crucial month of December sank by far more than anticipated in the markets
Updated: 23 minutes ago

Germany midfielder Leon Goretzka signs deal to join Bayern

Germany midfielder Leon Goretzka has signed a pre-contract with Bayern Munich and will complete his move from Schalke in July
Updated: 24 minutes ago