Fast and Furious Connection Not Ruled Out in Found Assault Rifles, Says Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada

See also: Arizona Sheriffs Call for Independent Investigation of "Fast and Furious" Gunwalking Scandal


House Republicans Call For Special Counsel to Determine Whether AG Eric Holder Lied During "Fast and Furious" Testimony

Even a few rusty guns found in the desert are enough to raise questions about a "Fast and Furious" angle, and enough to make an Arizona sheriff curious.

On Friday, officials from the Santa Cruz Sheriff's Office announced that three assault rifles had been found on June 20 in the desert, about 20 miles north of the Arizona-Mexico border.

When we called Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada this morning, it turned out we weren't the only reporters asking whether the guns could be some of federal government's "walked" guns. We weren't even that serious in asking the question, believing that a "yes" answer was rather unlikely. But Estrada answered without hestitation, "We haven't discounted that possibility."

Though the Fast and Furious scandal was already months old when Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke resigned over it last August, it blew up in the headlines again last week when the U.S. House voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for refusing to turn over requested documents.

The three guns -- two SKS's and an AK-47 -- were found in a black, plastic bag by a hiker in Madera Canyon.

"They were rusted and had dirt on them," Estrada says. "Obviously, we'll check with (the ATF) to find out where the weapons orginated.

The firearms could have come from almost anywhere, considering the hundreds of gun stores in Arizona that sell such weapons.

But thanks to the federal government's misguided program allowing suspected cartel members to buy and smuggle firearms, when old guns are found just lying around in the desert, the first thought of many Americans just might be: Hey, a present from Eric Holder!

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.