Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Operation Fast and Furious' under investigation

By EMMA PEREZ-TREVINO, The Brownsville Herald

Questions regarding the Feb. 15 slaying of Brownsville native Jaime J. Zapata, a special agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement remain unanswered and the list of legislators that attempt to help his family get answers grows.

U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa and U.S. Sen. Charles E. Grassley gave FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III until noon July 25 to provide information as "the family of Jaime Zapata is still seeking answers about the circumstances involving his death," they wrote to Mueller July 11.

Issa is the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and Grassley is the ranking member of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.

They wrote to Mueller because the FBI is the lead agency investigating the murder of Zapata and the assault on ICE Special Agent Victor Avila of El Paso in the state of San Luis Potosi.

Law enforcement officials in the United States and Mexico say that members of the Zetas drug cartel were responsible for the attack on Zapata and Avila.

Issa and Grassley also have been investigating how weapons used in Zapata’s slaying and U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in Arizona traced to illegal arms purchasers in the United States ended up in Mexico.

Two weapons found at the scene of Terry’s killing in December 2010 were traced to the "Fast and Furious" operation of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), which allegedly allowed criminals to traffic arms within the United States and to Mexico.

It is alleged that ATF agents did not arrest the suspects or seize the weapons with the aim of identifying major weapons smugglers and drug cartel operatives.

Issa and Grassley want to know:

>Was Zapata armed and if not why not?
>Was he in a bulletproof vehicle and if so, how was he killed inside of the vehicle?

>Describe in detail the actual circumstances leading up to, and including the shooting of Zapata.

>What investigative steps have been taken by the FBI since the shooting?

Grassley and Issa also have requested a copy of any investigative reports regarding the assault and suspects and photographs of the crime scene.

The Zapata family recently received a visit from ICE officials, but information has not been released regarding their meeting.


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