Fast and Furious: Walked ATF guns found at Zapata crime scene
From Sharyl Attkisson, the gun-walking sentinel of CBS News:
Prosecutors recently sentenced a Texas man, Manuel Barba, for trafficking a weapon connected to the murder of Immigration and Customs (ICE) Agent Jaime Zapata. Nobody was more astonished to learn of the case than Zapata’s parents, who didn’t know that Barba had been arrested or linked to their son’s murder.
“The family was obviously surprised to learn that there was a case involving a weapon linked to the Zapata incident,” attorney Trey Martinez told CBS News. Martinez represents Zapata’s parents and the surviving ICE agent in the assault, Victor Avila. “They were surprised they had never been contacted in the capacity as victims so they could give a response or some kind of reaction at the time of sentencing.”
Possibly influencing their reaction would be a set of documents obtained by CBS News, which somehow penetrated the Obama Administration stone wall to obtain confirmation that one of the weapons discovered at the Zapata crime scene was indeed a “walked” gun from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. That must not have been easy, since the Administration has been denying Freedom of Information Act requests from the murdered man’s family.
The reaction of leading Senate investigator Charles Grassley was certainly influenced by the news from CBS, as Grassley related in an email to Dave Workman of the Washington Examiner:
I’ve been asking for information from the departments of Justice and Homeland Security on the circumstances surrounding the murder of ICE Agent Zapata for almost a year, only to be met with resistance and more of the same stonewalling. If these revelations prove to be true, it’s a sad commentary that this known trafficker was allowed to continue his illegal purchases, including trafficking the apparent weapon used in the murder of our own agent.
Also surprised, according to Workman: Zapata’s partner, ICE agent Victor Avila, who was able to survive the hail of bullets from those walked guns.
The Houston prosecutors said they didn’t contact Zapata’s family because they weren’t handling the murder case, just the weapons charges. The Zapata murder is under the purview of another U.S. Attorney’s office. And if there’s one thing we’ve learned from Eric Holder’s congressional testimony, nobody in the Holder Justice Department talks to anybody else.
It turns out “Barba was under ATF surveillance for at least six months before a rifle he trafficked was used in Zapata’s murder.” From the CBS report:
Documents indicate ATF opened its case against Barba, entitled “Baytown Crew,” in June of 2010. During the investigation, court records state Barba recruited straw purchasers and “facilitated the purchase and exportation of at least 44 firearms” including assault rifles. On August 20, 2010 Barba took delivery of the WASR-10 semi-automatic rifle later used in Zapata’s murder, obliterated its serial number, and sent it to Mexico with nine others just like it.
Nearly two months later, on Oct. 8, 2010, ATF agents recorded a phone call in which Barba “spoke about the final disposition of … firearms to Mexico and also about the obliterating of the serial numbers before they were trafficked.” Barba told straw purchasers the guns were destined for the Zeta drug cartel.
A warrant wasn’t issued for Barba’s arrest until four months later; coincidentally, the day before a rifle he trafficked was used against Zapata.
(Emphasis mine.) This wasn’t part of Operation Fast and Furious, which was run out of Arizona. It was another gun-walking operation, running out of Texas. A second “walked” ATF gun was also recovered from the scene of Zapata’s murder, sold by a different group of people… who were also on the ATF radar screen. How many more of these gun walking fiascoes are there? Who knows? That question should be taken seriously: who knows?
This is, by the way, how the Obama gun-walking operations were designed to work. No credible attempts were made to follow or interdict the weapons, unlike the much smaller Bush-era gun-walking failure called Operation Wide Receiver, which put radio tracking devices on its guns. The entire point of Operation Fast and Furious, as well as offshoots like the Texas operation, was to recover the walked guns from murder scenes. One of those scenes involved a United States Border Patrol agent, Brian Terry. Another involved ICE Agent Jaime Zapata. A couple hundred more of them featured dead Mexican citizens.
Considerable effort has been invested in building a shield of plausible deniability around Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama. Holder’s shield became implausible deniability, once he committed perjury before Congress, and tried to defend himself by claiming he has no idea what most of the Justice Department is doing at any given time, does not communicate with anyone, and believes “lies” are entirely a matter of feelings.
It is, however, undeniable that either of these men could dispel the shroud of obfuscation surrounding the gun-walking murders by ordering full cooperation with congressional investigators, and the immediate provision of all documents lawfully requested by subpoena. They are both accountable for their refusal to do so.
What say you, Republican leadership? Is there enough blood on Eric Holder’s hands to get those impeachment hearings going yet, or do you need to hear him laugh at contempt of Congress citations a few more times?