The first convictions in the Department of Justice’s fatally flawed Fast and Furious gunwalking scheme were made in a Federal court on Monday; the investigation into the operation continues.
Jacob Wayne Chambers and Jacob Anthony Montelongo each pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge, and Montelongo also pleaded guilty to dealing guns without a license, according to The Associated Press.
The pair admitted that they were part of a 20-person smuggling ring that trafficked guns to Mexico for the Sinaloa drug cartel.
Chambers bought 79 guns from “straw” dealers in Arizona between September 2009 and December 2009 and got paid $50 for each AK-47 and $100 for a .50-caliber rifle he sold to the cartel. Montelongo purchased 109 guns in Arizona from January 2010 to July 2010 and was paid $50 for pistols, $100 for rifles and $150 each for six .50-caliber rifles.
The two face up to five years in prison and a fine as high as $250,000 when they are sentenced in May.
The convictions come as Congressional Republicans, led by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), continue their probe into Justice Department officials’ knowledge of the operation. On Monday, Issa cried foul when Patrick Cunningham, the chief of the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney’s office in Arizona, was excused from a deposition when he refused to give more than his name and title after saying last week that he would not testify and did not have to according to the 5th Amendment.
According to Fox News, Issa speculated that Cunningham’s dodging testimony about the operation was “a major escalation of the department’s culpability” in a letter he wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder.
Also this week, Republicans in the Arizona Legislature formed their own committee to investigate Fast and Furious. U.S. Attorney for Arizona Dennis Burke was fired due to fallout surrounding the scandal, and the lawmakers hope to learn more about the impact that Fast and Furious had on their State, according to the Phoenix Business Journal.