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Justice Department Denies Lawmaker’s ‘Fast and Furious’ Claim

Oct. 17 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Justice Department denied that a third weapon tied to a program that put illegal U.S. guns in the hands of Mexican criminals was recovered at the scene where border patrol agent Brian Terry was killed last year.

“The FBI has made clear that reports of a third gun recovered from the perpetrators at the scene of Agent Terry’s murder are false,” said Tracy Schmaler, a Justice Department spokeswoman, in an e-mail statement today.

U.S. Representative Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said there was evidence of a possible third weapon during an appearance yesterday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” program.

Issa, a California Republican, has led the congressional investigation into the law enforcement program called Operation Fast and Furious that allowed illegal U.S. gun purchases in an effort to link the weapons to Mexican drug cartels.

Two of about 2,000 guns that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives allowed to be carried away were found at the scene of Terry’s December 2010 murder in Arizona.

During his “Face the Nation” appearance, Issa said the two recovered weapons were numbered “two” and “three” during the subsequent FBI investigation and “there’s no ‘one.’”

“I’m not accusing anyone of a criminal cover-up, but we have a real obligation to follow this,” Issa said.

Schmaler said the third item was a blood sample from Terry rather than a firearm. “For this reason, it was not listed on the ballistics report prepared by the FBI,” Schmaler said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Seth Stern in Washington at sstern14@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net

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