The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona led the Fast and Furious OCDETF Strike Force. Although ATF was the lead law enforcement agency for Fast and Furious, its agents took direction from prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The lead federal prosecutor for Fast and Furious was Assistant U.S. Attorney Emory Hurley, who played an integral role in the day-to-day, tactical management of the case.14
Many ATF agents working on Operation Fast and Furious came to believe that some of the most basic law enforcement techniques used to interdict weapons required the explicit approval of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and specifically from Hurley. On numerous occasions, Hurley and other federal prosecutors withheld this approval, to the mounting frustration of ATF agents.15
The U.S. Attorney’s Office chose not to use other available investigative tools common in gun trafficking cases, such as civil forfeitures and seizure warrants, during the seminal periods of Fast and Furious.
Transcribed Interview of Special Agent in Charge William Newell, at 32-33 (June 8, 2011).
Transcribed Interview of Special Agent Larry Alt, at 94 (Apr. 27, 2011).
The U.S. Attorney’s Office advised ATF that agents needed to meet unnecessarily strict evidentiary standards in order to speak with suspects, temporarily detain them, or interdict weapons. ATF’s reliance on this advice from the U.S. Attorney’s Office during Fast and Furious resulted in many lost opportunities to interdict weapons.
In addition to leading the Fast and Furious OCDETF task force, the U.S. Attorney’s Office was instrumental in preparing the wiretap applications that were submitted to the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. Federal prosecutors in Arizona filed at least six of these applications, each containing immense detail about operational tactics and specific information about straw purchasers, in federal court after Department headquarters authorized them.