PHOENIX — A high-powered rifle used to kill a police chief in Mexico earlier this year has recently been traced to the controversial “Fast and Furious” federal operation.
According to the Los Angeles Times, internal Department of Justice records revealed that Luis Lucio Rosales Astorga, a police chief in the city of Hostotipaquillo, was shot and killed by a high-powered rifle that was sold as part of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ failed gun-tracking operation.
The police chief and one of his bodyguards were shot on Jan. 29 in the state of Jalisco. A second bodyguard and the police chief’s wife were injured in the attack, which was believed to be initiated by one of the drug gangs that are prevalent in the area.
Local authorities arrested eight suspects in their 20s and 30s after the attack on the police chief. Several weapons — including rifles, grenades and handguns — were seized from the suspects.
The firearm used to kill the police chief was a semi-automatic WASR rifle. The weapon was traced back to the Lone Wolf Trading Company, a gun store in Glendale, Ariz., that was involved in the gun-tracking operation.
Records show 26-year-old Jacob A. Montelongo of Phoenix purchased the weapon on Feb. 22, 2010, about three months into the Fast and Furious operation. Montelongo later was sentenced to 41 months in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy and smuggling items from the U.S.
Court records show Montelongo personally obtained at least 109 firearms during Fast and Furious. How the WASR ended up in the state of Jalisco, which is deep in central Mexico and includes the country’s second-largest metropolis, Guadalajara, remained unclear.
The WASR used in Jalisco was one of hundreds of firearms that were lost in the Fast and Furious operation. The ATF intended to trace the weapons, even if purchased illegally, to Mexican cartel leaders.
According to Mexican officials, more than 200 people have been killed or injured by Fast and Furious weapons in Mexico.
The ATF continues to compile an inventory of all of the lost weapons from the Fast and Furious operation.