WASHINGTON – Weapons from the failed federal operation "Fast and Furious" have reportedly been linked to 11 more violent crimes in the U.S., including in places like Arizona and Texas where a total of 42 weapons were seized.
As early as January 2010, guns tied to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosions were found at crime scenes in cities like Phoenix, Glendale and El Paso, the Los Angeles Times first reported.
The ATF program was designed to identify cartel leaders in Mexico by allowing for the illegal purchase of weapons and then tracking the firearms. The operation backfired when ATF lost track of the guns.
Under the program, 1,418 firearms were circulated though the number of disappeared guns is still unknown.
In a letter obtained by Fox News, Justice Department officials said last month they are cooperating with congressional investigations and the Justice Department inspector general's office. It also acknowledged that ATF Acting Director Kenneth E. Melson "likely became aware" of the operation as early as December 2009.
But Republicans leading the congressional probe into Fast and Furious replied to Attorney General Eric Holder in a letter Tuesday, saying that many of his answers to their inquiries were "non-responsive."
"We are disappointed that the Department has chosen to play word games rather than simply responding with as much detail as possible about these additional 11 cases," wrote Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and Sen. Charles Grassley, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee.
Meanwhile, three supervisors in charge of the program are being transferred to Washington for new management positions at the agency's headquarters. The decision to promote William Newell and David Voth, both field supervisors who managed the program out of the agency's Phoenix office, and William McMahon, who was the ATF's deputy director of operations in the West, earned criticism from U.S. Sen. John Cornyn.
"Until Attorney General (Eric) Holder and Justice Department officials come clean on all alleged gun-walking operations, including a detailed response to allegations of a Texas-based scheme, it is inconceivable to reward those who spearheaded this disastrous operation with cushy desks in Washington," Cornyn, R-Texas, wrote to Holder.