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Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Forgotten, Murdered Federal Agent in Fast and Furious

There have been two federal agents murdered by drug cartels during the time that Operation Fast and Furious was in effect. One of them - Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry - has become more widely cited when the details of the scandal come up. The other - ICE Agent Jaime Zapata - doesn't get as much attention. In large part, that's because two guns from the actual operation were found at Terry's murder scene. It's not as clear-cut when it comes to Zapata, who was killed in Mexico City. The gun used to kill Zapata came from Texas and the details of any operation run out of that state aren't as well known as Fast and Furious, which was run out of Phoenix. Zapata's family is working to change that.

Via LA Times:
Five months after U.S. immigration agent Jaime Zapata was shot to death by a Mexican drug cartel, his family is demanding to know whether the weapons were purchased in the United States and smuggled into Mexico under the now-defunct Fast and Furious operation.

The family complains that U.S. authorities in Washington and Texas have refused to answer crucial questions about the Feb. 15 ambush on a four-lane highway in northern Mexico.

"What happened with Jaime needs to come out," the family's lawyer, Raymond L. Thomas of McAllen, Texas, said in a telephone interview Sunday. "And the likelihood that these were Fast and Furious guns is certainly plausible."

Mexican authorities have announced nine arrests in the high-profile case. Among them was Jesus Rejon Aguilar, a Zetas cartel leader who was captured near Mexico City this month.

In Washington, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is seeking information on the Zapata slaying.
The article ends thusly:
Zapata, a 32-year-old Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agent, was based in Laredo, Texas. He and fellow agent Victor Avila were on the Pan-American Highway in Mexico when they were stopped by at least eight men in two vehicles. The Americans identified themselves and the attackers opened fire, killing Zapata and wounding Avila.

In March, ATF officials in Texas told reporters that one of the weapons believed to have been used in the assault — a Romanian-made AK-47 — was bought in October at a Texas gun shop. The shop purportedly sold 40 firearms that wound up with the Zetas cartel.

On June 14, Thomas, the Zapata family lawyer, asked the FBI, the U.S. attorney's office and Homeland Security agents for FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration documents on the Zetas cartel and the slaying, and for an inspection of the bullet-riddled vehicle.
It's already known - h/t Sipsey Street - that Janet Napolitano pledged in March of 2009 to go after gun dealers who sell weapons to bad guys who take them into Mexico. If it can be proven that the gun used to kill Zapata was purchased in Texas, the gun store owner responsible should have been arrested and charged by now. That is, unless there was indeed a Fast and Furious operation - which looks increasingly likely - run out of Texas. When that is uncovered, this scandal gets ratcheted up a big notch. In fact, if it is true, Eric Holder's Justice Department may have been better off revealing it a long time ago because the screws have tightened significantly since Fast and Furious became a story.

Read it all.

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