PJ Media

Gunwalker: Family of Slain Federal Agent Demands Answers

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents Jaime Zapata and Victor Avila were ambushed by eight cartel members in Mexico in February. Avila survived, Zapata did not.

One of the guns used in the murder was a Romanian-made semi-automatic AK-pattern pistol called the “Draco,” which is basically an AK-pattern rifle without a shoulder stock and featuring a much shorter barrel. It was traced back to a gun shop in the United States.

It has been almost six months since his murder, and Jaime Zapata’s family wants answers:

Five months after U.S. immigration agent Jaime Zapata was shot to death by a Mexican drug cartel, his family is demanding to know whether the weapons were purchased in the United States and smuggled into Mexico under the now-defunct Fast and Furious operation.

The family complains that U.S. authorities in Washington and Texas have refused to answer crucial questions about the Feb. 15 ambush on a four-lane highway in northern Mexico.

“What happened with Jaime needs to come out,” the family’s lawyer, Raymond L. Thomas of McAllen, Texas, said in a telephone interview Sunday. “And the likelihood that these were Fast and Furious guns is certainly plausible.”

The ambush of Zapata and Avila has long been associated with the multi-agency aberration known as “Operation Fast and Furious.” But the Draco pistol used in Zapata’s murder was not part of Operation Fast and Furious, which took place in what the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has designated the Phoenix Field Operations area, which encompasses all of Arizona and New Mexico. The Draco was instead just one of many firearms obtained for the cartels by a trio of gunrunners in the Dallas Field Operations area, from a parallel operation that looks suspiciously like Operation Fast and Furious.

A third operation named “Operation Castaway” is also coming to the attention of congressional investigators, and a pattern of weapons recovered from the Houston area in southern and central Mexico suggests that a fourth “watch and do nothing” operation existed.

Just how many “Gunwalker” operations did the ATF, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Agency, Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, the Internal Revenue Service, and the State Department collude in?

Was Operation Fast and Furious in Phoenix an isolated incident as the Obama administration and their unserious allies in the mainstream media would like us to believe? Or is it more likely that the federal agencies that are known to have come together for this operation participated in a number of operations in all border states where gun smuggling has been alleged, including the two suspected operations in Texas and Operation Castaway?

Should investigators be looking for the presence of similar multi-agency operations in the Los Angeles, Denver, Miami, and New Orleans field areas?

We are nowhere near being able to answer these questions, because the federal agencies involved are attempting to evade questions from the family members of dead law enforcement agents and congressional investigators alike.

The family of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, who was murdered in Arizona by illegals armed with at least two Fast and Furious weapons from the Phoenix operation, wants answers as well. They are considering suing the government to get those answers.

Senator Charles Grassley and Representative Darrell Issa are trying to pry answers from a recalcitrant Department of Justice, including letters sent to the director of the FBI and the administrator of the DEA seeking “all communications” from eight FBI special agents and six DEA special agents. In addition, they are seeking information about the number of informants in each agency related to “Fast and Furious” defendants, and specific information about suspect Manuel Fabian Celis-Acosta, who is accused of supplying a number of AK-type firearms to the cartels.

They’re also attempting to discover more about the circumstances surrounding Agent Zapata’s death, in order to get answers for the Zapata family.

Not so many years ago, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd asserted that “the moral authority of parents who bury children killed in Iraq is absolute.”

The sentiment of “absolute moral authority” for anti-war parents of soldiers lost in battle was embraced, amplified, and echoed by the Times, the Washington Post, and the overwhelming majority of print and broadcast media pundits while those parents served as useful political props for the media and progressive politicians. When the left took over both houses of Congress and the White House — and the mother they used as a bludgeon turned out to be a hate-spewing, conspiracy-mongering anti-Semite — the media quietly let the “absolute moral authority“ card slip out of their hand.

Zapata’s father is a Vietnam combat veteran with two Purple Hearts, and his siblings work in law enforcement. The family isn’t demanding to see the president, or delivering ditch-side sermons to a fawning media. All they want is answers.

Where is the media to bestow them with absolute moral authority and to champion their cause?