‘Fast and Furious’ Investigation Reveals Chief Suspect Twice Release


Richard A. Serrano
LA Times

March 23, 2012

WASHINGTON — Manuel Celis-Acosta, the chief suspect in the ATF’s “Fast and Furious” investigation who was caught but released at the U.S.-Mexico border in May 2010, was also stopped and released two months earlier while in possession of a Colt .38-caliber pistol purchased illegally under the gun-tracking operation.

The revelation that officials twice declined to arrest their prime suspect shows that agents were keenly aware of Celis-Acosta’s activities yet repeatedly turned down opportunities to charge him with felony offenses and bring a quick end to the Fast and Furious probe. Instead, the investigation dragged on for months more, with the loss of about 1,700 U.S. firearms on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.

The new disclosure was highlighted in a letter Thursday to Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr., as the two top congressional investigators on Fast and Furious demanded answers as to why Celis-Acosta was twice permitted to dodge arrest. It was sent by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Fast and Furious was launched Oct. 31, 2009, and ran until a month after a U.S. Border Patrol agent was killed in December 2010. Two Fast and Furious assault weapons were recovered after his slaying near the border.

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