Top House lawmakers slam ICE division on ‘Fast and Furious’

Top House lawmakers criticized a division of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Friday for its role in the failed gun tracking operation “Fast and Furious,” after a new report detailed the agency’s involvement.

{mosads}At the urging of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), officials with ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations unit did not pursue leads on potential weapons smugglers, according to the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) inspector general report released on Friday.

The 84-page report also found that senior leaders in ICE’s investigative Arizona division failed to read the reports from agents in the field that identified the “flawed methodology” in the “Fast and Furious” operation, according to the report.

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul (R-Texas) and Ranking Democrat Bennie Thompson (Miss.) said the report was “troubling.”

“This report once again demonstrates the obvious flaws in the Fast and Furious Operation,” said McCaul. “While it makes clear that the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement leadership were initially unaware of the operation, it is troubling that those ICE and DHS personnel in Arizona who knew of the problems did not take immediate action.”

Thompson said, “The OIG’s conclusions about the lack of support or oversight by ICE leadership in Arizona of the ICE special agent involved in the operation are very troubling, as is the failure of ICE leadership in Arizona to report serious problems with the operation to ICE headquarters.”

Operation Fast and Furious was run by the ATF and the U.S. Attorney’s office with assistance from other agencies, such as ICE, Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and the Drug Enforcement Agency. It oversaw the sale of about 2,000 guns in the Southwest region to known and suspected criminals who were acting as straw purchasers for Mexican drug cartels.

Two of the weapons sold during the operation were later found at the scene where Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed. The bullets Terry was shot with were too damaged to match them to a particular weapon through ballistics, according to federal officials.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) spent 18 months investigating the role of Justice Department (DOJ) leadership in approving Fast and Furious’s operational tactics. A DOJ inspector general report found that neither President Obama nor Attorney General Eric Holder knew about the flawed operation as it was being carried out.

The new IG report details the involvement of ICE and CBP, which are housed within DHS.

According to the report, DHS as a whole had “minimal involvement” in the operation.

–This report was updated at 9:09 p.m.

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