Did The U.S. Gov Supply The Gun That Killed Jaime Zapata?

By Cindy Casares

Operation Fast and Furious—the Arizona-based federal gun-tracking program that led to the death of a U.S. agent at the hands of Mexican criminals—could be underway in Texas, too, and may have led to the death of Laredo immigration agent Jaime Zapata.

Fast and Furious, launched in autumn 2009, allowed illegal guns to travel, or “walk,” into Mexico so federal agents could track Mexican drug cartel activity. The problem is that the U.S. lost track of hundreds of guns. Some wound up at the scenes of drug cartel murders, and even next to the body of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, who was shot and killed while patrolling the Arizona desert last year.

Fast and Furious was run out of the Phoenix office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), a federal law enforcement agency within the U.S. Department of Justice. There is startling evidence that a similar scheme could be occurring in Texas. According to an October 2011 investigation by Houston NBC affiliate KPRC, employees at a Houston gun shop named Carter’s Country alleged that they were asked by Houston ATF agents in 2006 to sell guns to suspicious purchasers and notify ATF so agents could observe the purchases. Carter’s Country employees say they complied with the request, adding that at least 6 of the 16 times they called during a suspicious sale, ATF agents never showed, but told Carter’s Country to make the sale anyway.

These sales continued into December 2010, when a Carter’s Country salesman became the subject of a Houston grand jury investigation due to a criminal complaint filed by ATF. That prompted Carter’s Country to pull the plug and hire high-powered defense attorney Dick DeGuerin.

ATF officials refused to be interviewed on-camera by KPRC, but told reporter Robert Arnold that Carter’s Country may have “misconstrued” the bureau’s request for help as a gun-walking operation. DeGuerin and Carter’s Country stuck to their story, and in March 2011, on the heels of the shooting death of Laredo Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agent Jaime Zapata in Mexico, DeGuerin received word that ATF was dropping the case. “We stood to embarrass them, meaning the ATF, for being hypocritical, two-faced, and turning against the very people who were trying to help them,” DeGuerin said.

And what of the murder of special agent Zapata, who was shot and killed in Mexico in February 2011? That gun was traced back to gun dealers near Dallas.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder asking about Zapata’s death. That went unanswered. So in August Cornyn asked Rep. Darrell Issa and Sen. Chuck Grassley, the leaders of the congressional investigation of Fast and Furious, to launch an inquiry into whether ATF ever conducted Texas-based gun-walking operations.

At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Nov. 8, Cornyn attempted to grill Holder about Fast and Furious, but the AG did his best to paint the questioning as partisan bickering. Unable to name one person in his department who was disciplined over the operation, Holder left the American people with more questions than answers.

Why did ATF drop the charges against Carter’s Country? Why did the Department of Justice wait more than five months to arrest three men in suburban Dallas it knew were gun dealers? Why did the arrests come two weeks after Zapata was killed, when, as Issa and Grassley found, ATF knew the men were trafficking guns long before they bought the weapon tied to the Zapata murder?

Jaime Zapata’s mother, Mary Zapata-Muñoz, has her own thoughts about the mystery surrounding her son’s death:

“I hope that it’s not a cover up. I pray that the weapon that killed my son didn’t come from the United States and was allowed to travel to Mexico. A few days after [Jaime] passed away, he came to me in a dream. And he pointed to his lips and he said, ‘Mom, I cannot speak. You have to speak for me. Seek justice. Make sure that another person does not have to go through what I went through.’”

I hope the same as Mrs. Zapata-Muñoz, but it sure doesn’t look good.


Subscribe today!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Must Read

How a harsh criticism turned ‘Coco’ into Pixar’s most uniquely made movie yet

Victor Landa November 17, 2017

Director Lee Unkrich was hot off the box office success and Oscar win for 2010’s “Toy Story 3” when he delved into making a movie that focused on the Mexican […]

Trump Administration Targets and then Mocks Immigrant with Prosthetic Leg

Victor Landa November 15, 2017

A 20-year-old undocumented immigrant with prosthetic leg and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status has been detained by federal immigration agents and held without charges for over a month, treated inhumanely […]

More Latinas are becoming teachers and reshaping our nation’s classrooms

Victor Landa November 29, 2017

The growth of the Latino population in the United States will have a lasting cultural and intellectual impact beyond the arts, food, and celebrations. More and more, Latinas are becoming […]

As Numbers Grow, Recognizing Generations Of Latino Veterans

Victor Landa November 10, 2017

As the nation honors its veterans, government officials point to the growing numbers of Latinos in the military, while Hispanic scholars and historians remind us of the generations of Latino […]

U.S Hispanic Chamber Leader Who Has Had Turbulent Relationship With Trump May Be Ousted

Victor Landa November 22, 2017

The US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) is moving behind the scenes to oust its prominent president Javier Palomarez over allegations that he misused the organization’s money for his personal […]

How Indie Latinx Comic Book Authors Are Capturing the Latinx Experience

Victor Landa November 13, 2017

Back in 2010, comics creator Javier Hernandez was walking around San Francisco with his friend Ricardo Padilla when he had an idea: Why don’t they build a comics convention focusing […]

Half of Latino Immigrant Characters on TV Are Portrayed as Criminals, Study Finds

Victor Landa November 1, 2017

Define American, the immigration nonprofit founded by Pulitzer-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, has released its first-ever media reference guide for writers, directors, and producers concerning Latino immigrant characters. Immigrants and […]

Could Hispanic vote push Lupe Valdez into Texas Governor’s Office?

Victor Landa December 8, 2017

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez is running as a Democratic candidate for Texas Governor after a year of speaking out on big state issues– particularly the controversial sanctuary cities ban. Experts says […]