Border Patrol agent may have been killed with a gun used in an ATF sting operation Update: Dept. of Justice denies claim

Posted on February 1, 2011

Border Patrol Agents watch for illegal entry f...

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Not good.  It’s possible that the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was from a gun used as part of a federal sting operation.  An operation whose oversight was so negligent that it enabled suspects to smuggle weapons into Mexico.

From AZ Central:

Bandits who gunned down a U.S. Border Patrol agent during a December firefight near Nogales may have been armed with assault rifles purchased from a Valley gun store in conjunction with a federal sting operation and subsequently smuggled into Mexico, according to a key member of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.

In letters to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, suggests that negligence by federal agents who failed to keep the firearms out of Mexico may have played a part in the slaying of Agent Brian Terry, a member of the Border Patrol’s elite tactical unit known as BORTAC.

Grassley said he had information that the AK-47s recovered at the shooting scene were traced to Project Gunrunner, an ATF program designed to stem the illegal flow of U.S. guns to Mexican narcotics cartels. It is not unusual for law-enforcement agents to allow illegal transactions to occur so that they can follow contraband, identifying ringleaders and key players in organized-crime organizations. (emphasis mine)

“Members of the Judiciary Committee have received numerous allegations that the ATF sanctioned the sale of hundreds of assault weapons to suspected straw purchasers, who then allegedly transported these weapons throughout the southwestern border area and into Mexico,” the senator wrote in a letter Thursday to acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson.

“According to the allegations, one of these individuals purchased three assault rifles with cash in Glendale, Arizona, on January 16, 2010. Two of the weapons were then allegedly used in a firefight on December 14, 2010, against Customs and Border Protection agents, killing CBP Agent Brian Terry.” (emphasis mine)

Sting operations are fine, but the feds in charge seem to have lost track of some of these weapons because they surely wouldn’t have allowed them to be taken across the border into Mexico, where they would have little input and guarantee of oversight.  The FBI and Border Patrol are refusing to comment, but the U.S. Attorney’s Office confirms that weapons aren’t allowed to be transported across the border for such operations.  Unfortunately, their spokesperson noted that sometimes suspects under surveillance can “elude agents, which could result in guns winding up in Mexico.”  Isn’t that just great?

As it now appears, Agent Terry may have been killed by a gun that the feds were supposed to be tracking. To make matters worse, no charges have been brought in Agent Terry’s killing because the suspects involved in the firefight, which resulted in his death, have fled the area and escaped back across the border to Mexico. 

Keep that in mind as Secretary Napolitano again says it’s “inaccurate to state, as too many have, that the border is overrun with violence and out of control.”