Note: Have to wonder how many weapons would have made it into
Mexico, WITHOUT the federal govt.??
Did Texas let guns 'walk' into Mexico?
By DAN FREEDMAN, WASHINGTON BUREAU
Published 07:41 p.m., Saturday, November 19, 2011
Houston and Texas
THE TRAIL OF SMUGGLED WEAPONS
August and September 2010: Dallas brothers Otilio and Ranferi Osorio
are first flagged by ATF for multiple handgun purchases.
August 2010: A load of 23 weapons is seized in La Pryor, Texas, with
its serial numbers obliterated. The guns are sent to West Virginia
Sept. 17: Three of the guns are traced to the Osorios and friend
Oct. 10: Otilio Osorio buys a Draco AK-47 pistol in Dallas.
November 2010: The Osorios and Morrison deliver a load of weapons to
an undercover informant as part of a secret DEA operation. But they
are not arrested.
Feb. 15, 2011: U.S. federal agent Jaime Zapata is killed in Mexico in
a highway stop by gangsters. Ballistic tests show one of the guns is
the Draco bought by Otilio Osorio.
Feb. 28, 2011: The Osorios and Morrison are arrested.
WASHINGTON - Otilio Osorio was just 22 in October 2010 when he
purchased a Romanian-made Draco AK-47 pistol in Joshua, just outside
There was nothing remarkable about the sale until the gun, with its
serial number obliterated, was identified as one of three weapons
used to kill Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Jaime Zapata
on a Mexico highway four months later.
Documents obtained by the Houston Chronicle show that at different
points in 2010, two Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms divisions
- Dallas and Phoenix - had evidence implicating Osorio well before
drug gangsters gunned down Zapata and his partner Victor Avila, who
But no one put it all together until agents in Dallas arrested Osorio
in February, 13 days after Zapata's death and four months after
Osorio purchased the deadly Draco.
Now the case of Osorio, as well as his ex-Marine brother Ranferi
Osorio, and their next-door neighbor in the Dallas suburb of
Lancaster, Kelvin Leon Morrison, is exhibit A in an effort by
congressional Republicans to uncover a Texas version of the flawed
tactics used in the Phoenix-based Operation Fast and Furious.
Texas Sen. John Cornyn has demanded answers from Attorney General
Eric Holder on whether ATF agents in Texas - akin to the botched
Operation Fast and Furious in Arizona - allowed such guns to "walk"
into Mexico in an effort to track them, rather than intercepting them
and arresting the purchasers.
"The attorney general has taken every opportunity to sidestep and
stonewall, and until he reassures Texans that gun-walking never
occurred in our state, I will continue to press him for answers,"
As part of Fast and Furious, ATF agents in Phoenix were instructed to
track weapons purchases as they moved up the chain to Mexican drug
cartels. But they lost sight of 1,400 guns that ended up in Mexico,
two of which were found at the murder scene of Border Patrol agent
Brian Terry in Arizona in December.
Cornyn and others say they're especially concerned because the Osorio-
Morrison case also involved a gun used in the murder of a U.S. law
Dallas office's records
ATF officials in Dallas remain adamant that there was no Fast and
Furious in Texas.
"This case has nothing to do with Fast and Furious," said Thomas
Crowley, spokesman for ATF in Dallas. "There hasn't been any gun-
walking in the Dallas division of ATF."
The records reviewed by the Chronicle, some of them obtained from
Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley - who along with Republican
Congressman Darrell Issa of California is probing the Fast and
Furious debacle - suggest the Zapata gun case instead may have been
an instance of missed opportunities, intelligence-sharing failures
and the inability to connect the dots and make arrests before the
weapon was ever purchased in October 2010.
The Osorios first showed up on ATF's radar in August and September of
that year when the Dallas division received records of their
purchases, known as "multiple sales summaries," of the Dracos and
other pistols in the Dallas area.
Tracing load of weapons
Such reports flood ATF offices and by themselves are not normally
cause for suspicion, ATF officials have said.
The trio next appeared on Sept. 17, 2011, the day the agency's
National Tracing Center in Martinsburg, W.Va., completed traces on a
load of 23 guns seized in a traffic stop in La Pryor, Texas, 46 miles
from the U.S.-Mexico border. One of the guns came back to Morrison
and two to Ranferi Osorio.
The load, records show, actually had been flagged down in La Pryor
more than a month earlier on Aug. 7. But the serial numbers had been
obliterated. It took ATF technicians until mid-September to restore
Complicating the puzzle was the fact that the trace requests came not
from the Dallas ATF, but the Las Cruces, N.M., office, where agents
were investigating a family involved in smuggling guns to Mexico.
When the trace results were available, the reports were not sent to
Dallas but to the Phoenix ATF office, which oversees Las Cruces.
A federal law enforcement source said the results trickled in to the
Dallas office between Sept. 17 and Oct. 28, 2010.
ATF traced the sales to 10 people in the Dallas area, but did not
zero in on the Osorios or Morrison. Instead, they had their sights on
Only later did agents determine that buyer also was linked to the
Osorios and Morrison, the source said.
Nevertheless, the source insisted: "We didn't ignore (the Osorios and
Morrison). We looked into everybody.''
Robert Champion, ATF agent in charge in Dallas, declined an interview
request, citing ongoing prosecutions in the case.
In November 2010, authorities encountered the Osorios and Morrison
According to affidavits, Dallas agents were asked by the Drug
Enforcement Administration to provide an undercover informant for an
operation in which he would call arms smugglers in the Dallas area
and request a gun load for transport to the Los Zetas trafficking
gang via Laredo.
When the informant pulled into a Wal-mart parking lot in the Dallas
area, he was met by the Osorios, who handed over 40 firearms, about
half of them Dracos or Romanian AK-47 rifles.
The informant drove the load to Laredo, where ATF agents arranged a
traffic stop by deputies who seized the weapons.
Back in the Dallas area, officers did a similar stop on the vehicle
that delivered the weapons to the informant, and officers identified
the occupants as the Osorios and Morrison.
Yet, the three men were not arrested.
A federal law enforcement source said the November undercover
operation was part of a larger DEA case, which authorities didn't
want to jeopardize.
The Osorios and Morrison were arrested on Feb. 28 and have pleaded
guilty to gun-law violations. They are awaiting sentencing.