Detective Gregory of the Devonshire Constabulary: "Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"
Sherlock Holmes: "To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time."
Gregory: "The dog did nothing in the night-time."
Holmes: "That was the curious incident." -- "Silver Blaze," Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
The energetic Richard Serrano of the LA Times, who is rapidly making his name as the premier print reporter of the Gunwalker Scandal, writes "Family of U.S. agent slain in Mexico demands to know gun source."
Yes, as should we all.
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."
No. It is not.
Once again, "Fast and Furious" was merely the Phoenix branch of a much larger operation -- a NATIONAL POLICY -- mandated by the DOJ at the behest of the White House.
Remember that things done in a bureaucracy, any bureaucracy, are done according to policy and areas of operation and responsibility. Dallas, where the weapons which the Feds say were found at the scene of the Zapata murder, is NOT in the area of the Phoenix Field Division. It IS in the area of the Dallas Field Division.
So I asked some long-time ATF agents this question: "What coordination is required when a case straddles FD's AOs? Is one FD allowed to proceed with investigations in another's AO without coordination or handing it off?"
One answered tersely: "No investigation without notifying the affected other division."
Cross division cases are rare. The SACs hate losing the glory and hate poaching. If there is a cross division operation, I guarantee you BOTH SACs are read in and up on the details it would be highly -- I repeat highly -- outside policy to operate in another division without the bosses' approval.
"The bosses' approval" refers to national ATF headquarters.
So, what of the Dallas ATF office?
Back in early March we had this denial: Dallas ATF agents say, "Hey, don't look at us, you want 'Gunwalker Bill' Newell. He's in Phoenix."
Dallas ATF agents said Friday that they don’t intentionally allow guns to be smuggled into Mexico, an alleged investigative technique now under fire in Arizona and the subject of congressional and Justice Department inquiries.
Robert Champion, special agent in charge of the local Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, acknowledged this week, though, that his agents did delay arresting three Lancaster men for three months after confiscating a load of guns the men intended to smuggle across the border to the Zeta cartel in November.
It was only after a gun used to kill Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Jaime Zapata in Mexico last month was traced back to North Texas that local ATF agents moved quickly to arrest the Lancaster trio.
“I know people will criticize us for not taking these guys down immediately,” Champion said. “But we weren’t sure what they were up to.”
Brothers Otilio Osorio, 22, Ranferi Osorio, 27, and neighbor Kelvin Leon Morrison, 25, were arrested Feb. 28 on federal weapons charges and remain in custody.
During a probable cause hearing Friday in federal court, Otilio Osorio’s attorney Camille Knight tried to question the ATF agent about the controversial Arizona investigation, known as Operation Fast and Furious, but the prosecutor objected on relevancy grounds. The magistrate judge sustained the objection, cutting off further questioning about the matter.
Questioning a Dallas ATF agent about Fast & Furious, even if the examination on that topic had been allowed to proceed, would have yielded only denials. Phoenix Field Division does not control Dallas, Dallas does.
Therefore, if the weapon that killed Jaime Zapata was in fact "walked" it would have been under another operation name.
The guy who would know that name is Robert R. Champion.
Dallas ATF SAC Robert R. Champion. His Field Division is responsible for the firearms that walked south found at the murder scene of Jaime Zapata.
Champion actually has a good reputation among the field agents I talk to as a straight shooter. "His conscience might be bothering him," offered one. But not enough, apparently, to fess up about whether or not Dallas was walking firearms according to ATF HQ policy.
Likewise for the case of Carter's Country in Houston. The agents who repeatedly instructed the Carter's Country employees to let the guns walk were under the control of Houston F.D. SAC Dewey Webb.
Houston F.D. SAC Dewey Webb.
I also asked around about Dewey. In the opinion of the street agents I talk to, according to one, "Dewey has been a misfit every place he went." Another said, "He's an ass-kisser and will do anything DC tells him to."
If Carter's Country is to be believed, one of those things was letting guns walk.
And so we are left speculating on the dogs that haven't barked, and why they haven't barked.
On June 14, Thomas, the Zapata family lawyer, asked the FBI, the U.S. attorney's office and Homeland Security agents for FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration documents on the Zetas cartel and the slaying, and for an inspection of the bullet-riddled vehicle.
"Where did the guns come from that were used in his murder?" he wrote. "Who provided the guns?"
Federal officials said they could not discuss it, he said.
Thomas said he asked to speak with the wounded agent, Avila, but was turned down. He also wants to know whether Zapata was armed.
Thomas said Zapata's father was a Vietnam veteran awarded two Purple Hearts, and that several of the slain agent's siblings work in law enforcement.
"They are all patriots who have dedicated themselves to protecting our country," he said. "So it's very hard for them to be pushed into a position that the U.S. government is stonewalling them."
The reason that the Obama administration is stonewalling is because this was a national policy. From Phoenix to Dallas to Houston to Tampa it was a NATIONAL policy.