Sunday, February 27, 2011

Scandal: ATF's Project Gunrunner and the Death of BP Agent Brian Terry

Sen. Grassley probes border agent slaying The ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee wants Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to explain why Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agents allowed suspected gun smugglers to purchase and keep assault rifles that later may have been used in the fatal shooting of a U.S. Border Patrol agent. In a letter, Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa said ATF agents told his staff the agency allowed the sale to "known and suspected straw purchasers for an illegal trafficking ring near the Southwest border" and two of those weapons reportedly were recovered at the site of the Dec. 14 shootout that killed Border Patrol agent Brian A. Terry. Mr. Grassley said the ATF had been tracking Avila's firearms purchases since November 2009 and while at least one Arizona gun dealer wanted to stop participating in sales "like those to Avila," the ATF encouraged the dealer to continue selling to suspected traffickers and asked the dealer to forward information about the sales to the ATF. He said the dealer who sold the weapons believed recovered at the scene of Terry's death met with both the ATF and federal prosecutors in December 2009 to "discuss his role as a FFL (federal firearms licensee) during this investigation." Mr. Grassley noted that Avila bought three more weapons at the same Glendale, Ariz., gun dealer on Jan. 9, 2010, which were entered into an ATF database two days later. By Jan. 13, he said, Avila had been added by the agency to a suspected person database. He said Avila bought three AK-47 assault rifles on Jan. 16 and that over the next several months, ATF continued to track his multiple firearms purchases, including two purchases of .50-caliber rifles in June 2010. After the fatal shooting of Terry, law enforcement officials recovered from the scene two assault rifles that were traced by ATF and matched two of the three rifles purchased by Avila "and tracked by ATF nearly a year earlier." Mr. Grassley noted that in addition to the assault rifles, the Avila indictment refers to approximately 769 firearms, of which 103 were recovered...

Below is the CBS News report:

And here is the reaction of Agent Terry's family:

"It's like it never happened": Terry family on agent's murder Murdered Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry is remembered as an American hero. But, two months and one day after someone gunned him down in the southern Arizona desert, Brian's family says the government he bravely worked for has forgotten him, "Is it upsetting for your family that you're still not getting answers?" KGUN9 asked. "Oh yeah, we're left in the dark here. I mean, the only time you ever hear anything is from the media out there where you're at (Tucson). But, as far as out here (Michigan), it's like it never happened," said Kent Terry, Jr., Brian's older brother. "I'm devastated! It brings us back to day one. Here you are thinking you have the right people in custody and now they're saying they don't! Do we have the right people?" asked Brian's sister, Kelly Terry. Apparently not; as KGUN9 news first reported earlier this week, three of the four suspects originally detained in this case pleaded down to misdemeanor immigration crimes and will be deported. "Have you heard anything about this fourth suspect, I mean, are you getting any information at all?" KGUN9 asked. "The only thing I heard is what you just said. There was one illegal wounded at the scene. That's the last I heard of it. And, the only thing I heard of it," said Kent. Officials will just say that fourth suspect was wounded. But, they won't say how he was wounded, or if he'll even be charged in connection with Brian's death. And, now, another wound. Iowa's Senator Charles Grassley wrote a letter today to the Attorney General of the United States, Eric Holder. The letter reads, in part, "…when asked whether Alcohol Tobacco & Firearms (ATF) had encouraged any gun dealer to proceed with sales to known or suspected traffickers such as Avila, the briefers said only that they did not have any "personal knowledge" of that." Senator Grassley says ATF whistle blowers told the senator guns used in the shooting death of Brian came from a Glendale gun shop and that agency knew of the sale. Those whistle blowers told the senator it was a botched operation...

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