Web Producer: Ina Ronquillo
Associated Press

PHOENIX (AP) - A judge has set a new trial date for 15 people accused of participating in a gun smuggling ring that was investigated by the federal government in Operation Fast and Furious.

U.S. District Judge James Teilborg set a Jan. 3 trial date.

Ring members are accused of buying guns and smuggling them into Mexico for use by a drug cartel.

Two rifles bought by an admitted ring member were found in the aftermath of a 2010 shootout that mortally wounded a Border Patrol agent in southern Arizona, just north of the Mexican border.

Federal authorities have faced harsh criticism since the agent's death for allowing suspected straw gun buyers to walk away from weapons shops with weapons, rather than arrest the suspects and seize the guns there.

New trial date set in Fast and Furious case -