Grassley, Chaffetz Demand Answers to Delayed ATF Investigation

Published: Mar 3, 2017

DOJ IG report took five years to complete inquiry

WASHINGTON – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) sent a letter to the Department of Justice Inspector General (DOJ IG) Michael Horowitz, asking why the IG’s office took nearly five years to complete an investigation into the Osorio and Barba trafficking rings. This investigation was originally requested by the House Oversight and Senate Judiciary Committees in Sept. 2012.

Excerpts from the letter:

“It has been more than six years since Agent Zapata was murdered in the ambush attack involving U.S.-purchased and subsequently trafficked firearms.  It has been nearly five years since the probe was requested.  Given the high level of congressional interest in this matter and the seriousness of the allegations, we are perplexed that your investigative work took so long.”

“You reach the gravely serious conclusion, ‘[w]e identified one instance, however, where we believe ATF had both the legal authority and opportunity to take the firearms in [Osorio’s] possession, yet failed to seize them.‘”

Grassley and Chaffetz added that nobody will ever know whether Agent Zapata would still be alive if federal law enforcement agencies had done THEIR job properly.

Full text of the letter can be read here.

Background:

On February 15, 2011, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agents Jaime Zapata and Victor Avila were driving on official U.S. business near the Mexican town of Santa Maria del Rio, when members of the Zetas drug trafficking organization opened fire on their vehicle. Agent Zapata died from his injuries and Agent Avila was seriously wounded. Firearms recovered at the scene traced back to an October 10, 2010, purchase by Otilio Osorio at a Dallas-Fort Worth Gun Show, and an August 20, 2010, purchase by Robert Riendfliesh at a pawn shop in Beaumont, Texas. 

DOJ IG will conduct a briefing for committee staff this afternoon to answer questions regarding the report.  The IG should be prepared to answer questions about whether the department has taken any steps to hold any government officials accountable for this failure to interdict firearms, and if not, why no recommendations were made asking the department to take steps to hold officials accountable. 

###