03/01/11— The gun used to kill U.S. agent Jaime Zapata on February 15, 2011, was traced back to Lancaster, Texas on Saturday. The U.S. Agency for the Control of Alcohol, Tobacco, Fire Arms, and Explosives (ATF), traced the gun’s origins by tracking gun sales and conducting intensive surveys in both Mexico and the United States. The ATF found that the gun was obtained from an arms smuggling group that operated in Lancaster, Texas for some time. On Saturday, three men were arrested with charges of the involvement in the illegal sale of an assault weapon that ended up in the hands of the assassins who killed U.S. Imigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agent, Jaime Zapata. The three men arrested have been identified as Otilio Osorio, Osorio Ranferi and Kevin Morrison.
At least one of the guns found has been traced to Otilio Osorio, who according to Mexican police sources, is suspected of having ties to Mexican cartels. Kevin Morrison is Osorio’s neighbor and is accused of having bought the gun. Osorio Ranferi is also suspected to be connected with the Mexican cartels. The three of them were brought to court on Monday.
Robert Champion, an ATF agent said, “cartels recruit individuals in this area of Texas and then ask them to go to gun shows for the sole purpose of purchasing arms and ammunition. We believe they have created their own networks of contraband.” Texas, along with Arizona have become favorite spots for the cartels to buy their arms and ammunition with a total of 8,000 armories along the border, however the ATF has the same number of ATF agents patrolling the area as it did in the 1970’s.
In attempts to change the situation, Mayors throughout the United States supported an initiative proposed by the ATF to make it mandatory for armories within the states of Texas, California, New Mexico, and Arizona, to report sales of “high-powered weapons.” The new initiative now states that “if a shop with a federal license sells more than 2 pistols to the same person in the time frame of 5 working days, then the store must notify the ATF of this sale. However, if this same store sells 10 or 15 AK-47’s to an individual, there isn’t a requirement to report the sale.”