Napolitano Doesn’t Know if Any ‘Fast and Furious’ Guns Were Apprehended

By Fred Lucas and Edwin Mora | July 24, 2012 | 11:46am EDT

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano delivered the first annual "State of America's Homeland Security" address on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011, at The George Washington University's Homeland Security Policy Institute in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

( – Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said her department has increased the seizure of weapons along the border, but she did not know if any of those weapons were seized from Operation Fast and Furious, the botched Justice Department program that allowed guns to flow to Mexican drug trafficking organizations.

When Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said his understanding is that not a single Fast and Furious gun was apprehended, Napolitano responded, “I just can't answer that. I don't know.” The exchange occurred during a July 19 hearing of the House Judiciary Committee.

During her opening statement, Napolitano talked about the increased number of weapons seizures.

“This decrease in apprehensions of those seeking to enter the country illegally, one of the best indicators of illegal immigration attempts, is combined with increased seizures in drugs, weapons, cash and contraband,” Napolitano told the committee.

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Later in the hearing Chaffetz brought up Fast and Furious weapons.

“The president, yourself, the attorney general have all said that the Southwest border is more secure than it has ever been before,” Chaffetz said. “In Operation Fast and Furious, the government purposely allowed nearly 2,000 weapons to get into the hands of the drug cartels. How many of those weapons were detained at the border? Any?”

Napolitano responded, “I couldn't answer that.”

Chaffetz followed, “My understanding is that there hasn't been one single gun from Operation Fast and Furious apprehended by the Homeland Security or any other law enforcement other than the two weapons that were found at the scene at the death of Brian Terry. Is there – am I wrong in that?”

Napolitano still did not have a clear answer.

“I just can't answer that. I don't know,” Napolitano said.

The Justice Department’s Operation Fast and Furious, which began in fall 2009, intentionally allowed guns to flow to Mexican drug cartels with the intention of tracing the guns to the crime scene. The operation was halted in December 2010 after two of the guns from the operation were found at the murder scene of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has been investigating the matter for more than a year. The House recently voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for failure to produce subpoenaed documents.

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