Honoring the Life of Fallen Border Patrol Agent Terry

December 14, 2012

Issa: We've seen real accountability, but still missing answers from DoJ

WASHINGTON – House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa issued the following statement on the two-year anniversary of the Operation Fast and Furious-linked shooting of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.

“Two years after the tragic death of Brian Terry, Americans remember his legacy of service to his country in the Marine Corps and the Border Patrol,” said Issa.  “In the past year, we have seen real accountability for both criminals whose actions contributed to Agent Terry’s death and Justice Department officials whose conduct was faulted by the Inspector General.

“Former Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler and Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein have left the Department.  Several others have left or are in the process of losing their jobs.

“Before final closure can be brought to this matter, the Justice Department must hand over critical documents showing what it really knew while it denied wrongdoing for months.  If the Justice Department does not change course and agree to produce these documents, I am confident that the Court will rule appropriately on the lawsuit authorized by a congressional vote that included the support of twenty-one House Democrats.”

Late in the evening of December 14, 2010, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, a native of Michigan and Marine veteran, was on patrol with three other agents in Peck Canyon, near Rio Rico, Arizona. The agents spotted a group of five suspected illegal aliens – at least two were carrying rifles. As the agents approached, at least one of the suspects fired at them. The agents returned fire. In the midst of the gunfight, Agent Terry was struck by a bullet. Most of the suspected aliens fled the scene, though one of them had been wounded and was unable to flee. Though Agent Terry was fully conscious after being wounded, his bleeding could not be stopped and he died in the desert during the early morning hours of December 15 while the group waited for medical assistance to arrive. When help finally did arrive, investigators recovered two AK-47 variant rifles at the scene. Traces conducted later that day showed the two weapons had been bought on January 16, 2010, by a then 23-year-old straw purchaser named Jaime Avila, Jr. who was a target of an ATF effort known as Operation Fast and Furious, which sought to dismantle an arms trafficking network through the unusual and controversial tactic known amongst ATF agents as “gun-walking.”

Earlier this week, the straw purchaser of the Operation Fast and Furious weapons found at the scene of Agent Terry’s murder, Jaime Avila, Jr., told the judge sentencing him, “I’m sorry about the Terry family – what happened – and that if I had the power to change everything, I would.”  Avila was sentenced to 57 months in prison with three years supervised probation.