Sheriffs blast "Fast and Furious" operation

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu speaks as, from left, Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever, Yavapai County Sheriff Scott Mascher, and LaPaz County Sheriff Don Lowrey listen during a press conference in front of the Arizona Peace Officers memorial Friday, Oct. 7, 2011 in Phoenix to discuss "Operation Fast and Furious". The gathering was to announce that Ten Arizona Sheriffs demand a Special Counsel to Investigate Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice for their roles in â
AP Photo/Matt York

PHOENIX - Ten Arizona sheriffs slammed the Obama administration on Friday over a botched federal operation that allowed up to 1,400 high-powered rifles to make their way to Mexico, calling for the president to launch an independent investigation and for Attorney General Eric Holder to step down or be fired.

Speaking at the state capitol in Phoenix, the sheriffs called the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' 2009 operation, known as "Fast and Furious," a betrayal of state law enforcement.

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Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu (BAB'-yew) said it's not a partisan issue, noting that the sheriffs joining him were Democrats and Republicans.

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He says it's a public safety issue, and that the guns allowed into Mexico have been linked to crime scenes on both sides of the border.