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A primer on the “Fast and Furious” scandal

CBS

What is “gunwalking”?

“Gunwalking” is law enforcement vernacular for the concept of allowing criminal suspects to “walk” off with guns, without police interdicting or tracking them. It’s widely considered taboo, since “walked” guns may be used in violent crimes, including murders.

What is “Project Gunrunner”?

“Project Gunrunner” is a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) national initiative under the Justice Department started in 2006 aimed at reducing US-Mexico cross-border drug and gun trafficking and violence.

What is “Fast and Furious”?

“Fast and Furious” is the name ATF assigned to a group of Phoenix, Arizona-area gun trafficking cases under Project Gunrunner that began in fall of 2009. It’s the largest of several known operations in which ATF employed gunwalking, involving more than 2,000 weapons, including hundreds of AK-47 type semi-automatic rifles and .50 caliber rifles. According to sources who worked directly on the case, the vast majority of guns were not tracked and Mexico’s government was not fully informed of the case. The ATF Special Agent in Charge of the operation was Bill Newell.

Complete coverage of the “Fast and Furious” scandal from CBS News

What is “Wide Receiver”?

“Wide Receiver” is the name ATF assigned to a group of gun trafficking cases investigated out of the Tucson, Arizona office beginning in 2006. Like Fast and Furious, it was supervised by ATF Special Agent in Charge Bill Newell. Sources indicate it involved about 275 “walked” guns. According to sources who worked directly on the case, the vast majority of guns were not tracked and Mexico’s government was not fully informed of the case. Apparently worried that the gunwalking tactics could be viewed as inappropriate, federal prosecutors in Arizona abandoned the case. Then, in fall of 2009, Justice Department officials decided to go ahead and prosecute the…

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