Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism Hearing with Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, Nov. 1, 2011

Connection Between Wide Receiver and Fast and Furious


Assistant Attorney General Breuer to Senator Grassley: “I regret that in April of 2010 that I did not draw the connection between Wide Receiver and Fast and Furious.”


In the spring of 2010, Criminal Division staff considered Operation Wide Receiver and Operation Fast and Furious related components of the same case.

On February 22, 2010, Gang Unit prosecutors Laura Gwinn and Joe Cooley, assigned respectively to Wide Receiver and Fast and Furious, emailed back and forth with each other about the connection between the two cases when some of the guns being trafficked in Fast and Furious were tracked to a stash house of one of the targets in Wide Receiver.

Because of those overlapping targets, Wide Receiver and Fast and Furious were considered associated cases.  When the ATF Phoenix Field Division assembled a PowerPoint presentation on Fast and Furious in March 2010, one of the slides listing “Associated Cases” with Fast and Furious listed Operation Wide Receiver.  This same PowerPoint was presented at ATF headquarters on March 5, 2010.  According to a March 11, 2010, memo from Gang Unit Chief Kevin Carwile, Gang Unit member Joe Cooley attended that briefing.

Concerns about those overlapping targets also led to delay in unsealing the indictments in Wide Receiver, as the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona had concerns that when the Wide Receiver indictments were unsealed it would tip off targets in Fast and Furious.  As the department wrote in its October 31, 2011, letter to Senator Leahy:

The documents produced today reflect that the Gang Unit prosecutor was ready to indict the Wide Receiver cases and unseal them beginning in the spring of 2010, but that the Assistant U.S. Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona handling Fast and Furious believed that if the Wide Receiver indictments became public at that time they would negatively impact his case.  The Assistant U.S. Attorney therefore requested that the indictments and/or the unsealing of the indictments in Wide Receiver be delayed.  As a result of that request, Wide Receiver 1 was indicted under seal in May 2010, Wide Receiver 2 was indicted under seal in October 2010, and both cases were unsealed in November 2010.

In a July 1, 2010, memo to DAAG Weinstein and others, Gang Unit Chief Kevin Carwile described Fast and Furious as “a gun trafficking case with apparent ties to the Tucson case already indicted by [the Gang Unit],” which was a reference to Wide Receiver.

Finally, an October 18, 2010, memo under Assistant Attorney General Breuer’s name that is addressed to the Attorney General and Acting Deputy Attorney General reads: “On October 27, the Organized Crime and Gang Section (OCGS) plans to indict eight individuals under seal relating to the trafficking of hundreds of firearms into Mexico.  The sealing will likely last until another investigation, Phoenix-based ‘Operation Fast and Furious,’ is ready for takedown.”

Given all this evidence that the cases were seen as related by Criminal Division staff, Breuer’s claim that he failed to “draw the connection” between the cases is not credible.  Since Breuer knew of gunwalking in Wide Receiver, if he knew that the cases were related then it’s difficult to understand why he would not have prevented gunwalking in Fast and Furious.

Documents supporting the FACTS.