Seven months after federal agents began the ill-fated Fast and Furious gun-tracking operation, they stumbled upon their main suspect in a remote Arizona outpost on the Mexican border, driving an old BMW with 74 rounds of ammunition and nine cellphones hidden inside.
Detained for questioning that day in May 2010, Manuel Fabian Celis-Acosta described to agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives his close association with a top Mexican drug cartel member, according to documents obtained this weekend by the Times/Tribune Washington Bureau.
The top Fast and Furious investigator, Special Agent Hope MacAllister, scribbled her phone number on a $10 bill after he pledged to cooperate and keep in touch with investigators.
Then Celis-Acosta disappeared into Mexico. He never called.
Had they arrested him red-handed trying to smuggle ammunition into Mexico, Fast and Furious might have ended quickly. Instead, the program dragged on for another eight months, spiraling out of control.
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