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Justice IG to look into anti-gun efforts on border

Justice IG to look into anti-gun efforts on border
Thursday, March 3, 2011 - 7:41pm

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric Holder has asked the Justice Department inspector general to take another look at the efforts of U.S. agents who hunt gun traffickers along the U.S. border with Mexico.

Some on Capitol Hill have suggested the current strategy endangers law enforcement officers.

Holder's decision was followed Thursday by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives announcing that it will ask a panel of law enforcement professionals to review the bureau's firearms trafficking strategies.

The ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, says he has been told by some personnel at ATF that the agency has allowed assault rifles to be sold to suspected straw purchasers for an illegal trafficking ring. Grassley questions whether agents adequately tracked the weapons after that.

Two of those weapons were recovered at a firefight that killed U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent Brian Terry last December.

The Justice Department turned down a request from Grassley for copies of communications between ATF headquarters in Washington and the agency's Phoenix office after Terry's death in southeastern Arizona.

"We are not in a position to disclose documents relating to any ongoing investigation," the Justice Department responded in a letter to Grassley.

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