The suit contends that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearm and Explosives officials and Arizona federal prosecutor “intentionally crafted a strategy based on allowing illegal purchases of firearms and subsequent transfers of those illegally-purchased firearms to violent criminals occur.” They were “recklessly indifferent to the certainty of violence and mayhem their actions caused, were causing and would cause in the future and persisted in order agents to engaged in gunwalking for over 15 months from the inception of Operation Fast and Furious in October 2009 to Brian Terry’s murder on Dec. 15, 2010,” the lawsuit states.
The defendants named in the lawsuit include: William McMahon, ATF Deputy Assistant Director; William Newell, Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix Field Office; George Gillett, Assistant Special Agent in Charge in Phoenix; David Voth, group supervisor in Phoenix; Hope MacAllister, lead agent in the operation; Tonya English, ATF agent; and Emory Hurley, lead prosecutor in the Arizona U.S. Attorney’s office.
Also named in the lawsuit are Lone Wolf Trading Company and its owner Andre Howard. The suit contends that the two guns found at the scene were sold at the Glendale, Ariz. gun shop.
The operation aimed to track some 2,000 guns as they flowed over the border into Mexico, in an attempt to catch high-level drug cartel members. The guns were sold to “straw buyers,” who then in turn smuggled them over the border. However the operation backfired when hundreds of guns went missing. Two were found at the scene of Terry’s murder in 2010.
The gun-walking operation sparked controversy on Capitol Hill, with the House voting to find Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress over the production of a number of documents related to the operation.
Earlier this month, McMahon, Newell and Gillett were all recommended for removal from ATF amid a review of their conduct. MacAllister was recommended for transfer and Voth was recommended to be demoted. ATF leadership still has to review and consider the recommendations. Attorneys for some of the officials have said they’ll fight the reprimands.
An ATF spokesman declined to comment on the lawsuit to the Associated Press. Newell and the Arizona U.S. Attorney’s office did not immediately return requests for comment from the AP.