Senate Judiciary Committee Oversight Hearing with Attorney General Eric Holder, Nov. 8, 2011
Connection Between Fast and Furious and Agent Terry’s Death
Attorney General Holder to Senator Cornyn: “It is not fair, however, to assume that the mistakes that happened in Fast and Furious led directly to the death of Agent Terry.”
According to the FBI, two weapons were found at the murder scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. The bullet removed from Agent Terry matched the caliber of those two weapons, not the caliber of the weapons in possession of the Border Patrol agents, so it appears he did not die from friendly fire. Congressional investigators have asked the FBI to explain its theory of the case, since if there was no third gun at the scene and the bullet didn’t come from the Border Patrol, there must still be an unknown third gun which law enforcement has not yet recovered. It is possible that that third gun is not related to Fast and Furious. However, since two guns walked in Fast and Furious were present, it is possible that a third may have been as well. The two found at the scene were both part of a lot of three weapons purchased by known straw buyer Jaime Avila on the same day in January 2010.
Prior to the purchase of the weapons found at the Terry murder scene, Avila had already been identified by the ATF as a likely straw purchaser at least two-and-a-half months earlier. In November 2009 Uriel Patino, the largest purchasing target in Operation Fast and Furious, brought Avila into a cooperating gun dealer to buy five weapons. ATF received real-time notice from the gun dealer and knew the purchases were significant enough that agents rushed to the store to follow them. However, they arrived too late. Yet rather than going to Avila’s address to question him, ATF opted to sit back. Avila continued to purchase through December 2009 and into January 2010.
When the weapons found at the Terry murder scene were bought by Avila on January 16, 2010, the cooperating gun dealer gave the ATF same-day notice via fax. One business day later, the ATF entered the purchases in their Suspect Gun Database. Nevertheless, the ATF still failed to question Avila the day of the purchase, the day the purchase was entered into the Suspect Gun Database—or at all, until Avila was arrested 11 months later in direct response to Agent Terry’s death. The falsification of forms charge for which Avila was arrested on December 15 could have been made months earlier.
Regardless, by using the word ‘directly,’ Holder seems to be echoing the statement of Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer: “The tragic truth is that if those criminals who killed Agent Terry had not gotten the guns from this one source, they would have gotten the gun from another source.” That is hardly an excuse for federal law enforcement to watch criminals collect more than a thousand firearms without acting to stop them.
Documents supporting the FACTS.