While much attention has been given to the fact that a gun which the ATF let walk in Operation Fast and Furious was used to kill US Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, much less attention has been given to the murder of US Immigration and Customs Agent Jaime Zapata in Mexico on February 15, 2011. As it turns out, the guns used in his ambush were both let walk by the ATF, in contravention of US and Mexican laws. Sharyl Attkisson of CBS News reports,
Prosecutors recently sentenced a Texas man, Manuel Barba, for trafficking a weapon connected to the murder of Immigration and Customs (ICE) Agent Jaime Zapata … Barba was sentenced to 100 months in prison on January 30th …
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.
More details, including the fact that the government seems to be stonewalling Zapata’s parents, can be found at the link.
A WASR-10 semi-automatic rifle is an AK-47 which has been modified to be legal in the US. Apparently, the weapon can be easily customized to get around these modifications.