CBS News reports that Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed by an AK-47 that was traced back to an Arizona gun shop. US officials in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms allowed these “guns to walk” into Mexico for the purpose of tracing them at crime scenes and other locations in Mexico.
The Serial Numbers of the two assault rifles found at the murder of BP Agent Terry were traced to Operation Gunrunner, a controversial ATF plan that allowed thousands of weapons onto the streets, even after gun shops had reported them as suspicious shell purchases.
According to CBS, several gun shops wanted to stop the questionable sales, but ATF encouraged them to continue:
“Jaime Avila was one of the suspicious buyers. ATF put him in its suspect database in January of 2010. For the next year, ATF watched as Avila and other suspects bought huge quantities of weapons supposedly for “personal use.” They included 575 AK-47 type semi-automatic rifles.
ATF managers allegedly made a controversial decision: allow most of the weapons on the streets. The idea, they said, was to gather intelligence and see where the guns ended up. Insiders say it’s a dangerous tactic called letting the guns, “walk.”
One agent called the strategy “insane.” Another said: “We were fully aware the guns would probably be moved across the border to drug cartels where they could be used to kill.”
On the phone, one Project Gunrunner source (who didn’t want to be identified) told us just how many guns flooded the black market under ATF’s watchful eye. “The numbers are over 2,500 on that case by the way. That’s how many guns were sold – including some 50-calibers they let walk.”…
Sure enough, the weapons soon began surfacing at crime scenes in Mexico – dozens of them sources say – including shootouts with government officials.
One agent argued with a superior asking, “are you prepared to go to the funeral of a federal officer killed with one of these guns?” Another said every time there was a shooting near the border, “we would all hold our breath hoping it wasn’t one of ‘our’ guns.”
Then, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered. The serial numbers on the two assault rifles found at the scene matched two rifles ATF watched Jaime Avila buy in Phoenix nearly a year before. Officials won’t answer whether the bullet that killed Terry came from one of those rifles. But the nightmare had come true: “walked” guns turned up at a federal agent’s murder…”