Sheriff Paul Babeu of Pinal County, Ariz., said that Attorney General Eric Holder’s recent attacks on his colleague, Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Ariz., were an attempt to take public attention off of Operation Fast and Furious.
“The fact [that the Department of Justice] chose today to release their findings was only done to take the attention away from themselves,” Babeu said in a press release, according to Sonoran News. “Today marks the one year anniversary since the murder of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.”
Holder’s DOJ announced on December 15 that it “had reasonable cause to believe” Arpaio’s office was discriminating against Latinos.
Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office’s “systematic disregard for basic constitutional protections has created a wall of distrust between the sheriff’s office and large segments of the community, which dramatically compromises the ability to protect and serve the people,” Thomas Perez, assistant atorney general for the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, said in a statement.
On Dec. 15, 2010, Terry was murdered with Operation Fast and Furious weapons. Babeu said that he is suspicious because the DOJ released the details of its three-year investigation “within 12 hours of the Terry family having announced they want justice against all of those responsible for Operation Fast and Furious.”
Mere hours before the DOJ took the findings of its Arpaio investigation public, Terry’s family called for criminal charges to be filed against all responsible for Operation Fast and Furious and for Terry’s murder, including Obama administration officials.
Fast and Furious was a program of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, overseen by the DOJ. It sent thousands of weapons to Mexican drug cartels via straw purchasers — people who legally purchase guns in the United States with the known intention of illegally trafficking them somewhere else.
At least 300 people in Mexico were killed with Fast and Furious weapons, as was Terry. The identities of the Mexican victims are unknown.