Patterico as Carnac the Magnificent, Redux: More on the Connections Between Project Gunrunner and Jaime Zapata’s Murder
On March 4, 2011, I asked of the murder of Jaime Zapata:
Was this murder also the result of guns that the Obama administration deliberately allowed into Mexico?
It was known at the time that a Project Gunrunner gun had been found at the murder scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. My question was: did the DoJ and/or ATF also “walk” the gun that had been used to kill ICE agent Jaime Zapata? This was a question I had not heard asked publicly before it was asked on this blog. (As I explained at the time, I cannot take credit for asking this question: as often happens, it was a perceptive reader who tipped me to the possibility.)
I elaborated on the thesis on March 29, 2011, asking: Should the ATF Have Prevented the Sale of the Gun that Killed ICE Agent Jaime Zapata?. I followed it up with a post the next day in which I said:
I think the feds had Zapata’s murder weapon in their hands, and let it go. I think that, in February 2011, Zapata was murdered with a gun that literally slipped through the fingers of ATF agents.
The documents upon which I based my analysis related to ATF surveillance of a weapons trafficker named Otilio Osorio and his confederates. It has since been revealed that, just as I had speculated, a shipment of guns delivered by the Osorio crew to a confidential informant in November 2010 included a gun found at Zapata’s murder scene. What I didn’t predict is that one of the other murder weapons involved in Zapata’s murder was also linked to a second illegal firearms trafficker who was being surveilled by ATF:
In a related development, CBS News has obtained documents showing that Barba was under ATF surveillance for at least six months before a rifle he trafficked was used in Zapata’s murder. Zapata’s government vehicle was ambushed by suspected cartel thugs in Mexico Feb. 15, 2011.
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.
Barba is now the second weapons trafficker who had been under ATF surveillance to be linked to Zapata’s murder. As CBS News previously reported, ATF had also been watching suspect Otilio Osorio during the time he trafficked a different weapon used in Zapata’s assault. Records show ATF watched on Nov. 9, 2010 as Osorio, his brother Ranferi and Kelvin Leon Morrison transferred a cache of illegal weapons to a confidential informant but failed to arrest the men at the time.
Note the November 9, 2010 date that the Osorio crew shipped weapons to a confidential informant. Then read my March 29, 2011 post again, in which I conducted an extensive examination of the available court documents, and asked:
Was the gun used to kill Zapata part of the shipment that was delivered to the CI [confidential informant] in November 2010? Was that gun allowed to “walk” into Mexico?
It now appears, if you don’t mind my tooting my own horn, that I was dead on. I just didn’t realize that the Osorio gun wasn’t the only gun the U.S. Government had walked into Mexico that ended up being associated with Zapata’s murder.
So the moral of the story is: always trust content from Patterico — but understand that sometimes what the government has done is even worse than Patterico suspected.